Ramachandran Srinivasan did his PhD (1958) from University of Madras. He worked as Senior Professor and Head, Department of Crystallography and Biophysics, and Honorary Director, NICRYS, University of Madras.
Academic and Research Achievements: Srinivasan’s contributions have been essentially in structural crystallography both in theory and practice. On theoretical side, methods of structure analysis, using X-ray diffraction particularly Fourier theory and statistical applications received his special attention. Special mention may be made of the proposal of Fourier representation of imaginary component in the presence of anomalous scattering, essentially unique solution to phase problem using anomalous scattering from single wavelength measurements both of which have come into sharp focus in recent years in macromolecular crystallography with the advent of synchrotron radiation facilities. On the practical side, he developed powerful tools of analysis of data on protein structure and conformation and applied them to available large volume of protein data to yield (a) best helical parameters for the alpha helix from single crystal globular proteins (b) presence of supercoiling even in single strands (c) E-helix, an extended helical conformation and (d) subhelical distortion and their quantification. He also proposed a generalized methodology for essentially unique single parametric characterization of any biopolymer by treating biopolymers as quasi-rigid systems. Applications to proteins, double helical DNA and single stranded tRNA were also made. In the light of these methodologies, some of the double helical analyses of DNA in the literature need very cautious interpretation. In solid state NMR, he developed a powerful new method of line shape analysis using truncated moments which could be used for motional studies. He was instrumental in the creation of NICRYS, a hard-data informatics center at Chennai relating to crystallography, perhaps first of its kind in this region of Asia. He contributed nine volumes in the area of `Crystallography and Biophysics’ (by Pegamon, John Wiley and others) and one on Statistical Application was translated into Russian.
Other Contributions: Srinivasan organized special seminars on musicology sponsored by Sangeet Natak Academy (1981). He even contributed a research article on computer applications to musicology to a commemorative volume which he edited. He was also Consultant (formerly Member), IUCr, Teaching Commission. He served as Member of the Indian Physics Association, Indian Biophysical Society; New York Academy of Sciences, and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.
Awards and Honours: Professor Srinivasan won the CV Raman Research Gold Medal (Madras) (1962). He was elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics, London and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; and Founder Fellow of Tamil Nadu Academy of Sciences.