Sethunathasarma Krishnaswami obtained his BSc (Chem) degree (1963) from Kerala University. After a short stint at the Atomic Energy Training School, he joined the Geophysics Group of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai (1964) and worked under the supervision of Dr Lal to obtain his PhD (1974) degree from the Bombay University. He spent a year at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego with H Craig, where they discovered 210Pb-226Ra radioactive disequilibrium in the deep sea. Later on he joined Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), Ahmedabad. He did his post-doctoral research with KK Turekian, Yale University and his subsequent visits to Yale led to new results on the applications of U-Th series nuclides for investigating the processes in aquatic systems.
Academic and Research Achievements: Krishnaswami’s research work was focused on the applications of environmental radioactive and radiogenic isotopes to study the earth surface processes. His contributions in isotope geochemistry have provided new and powerful environmental radioactive and radiogenic tracers and approaches to understand and quantify natural processes, such as sedimentation and particle mixing in lakes and coastal oceans; growth history of marine and fresh-water ferromanganese deposits; particle dynamics and solute-particle interactions; contaminant transport in sea water and sub-surface aquifers; weathering and erosion in the Himalaya and Deccan traps and their influence on global change, etc. He published about 100 papers in peer reviewed scientific journals, contributed reviews in books/encyclopedia, edited special volumes of journals and wrote a book on U-Th Series Nuclides in Aquatic Systems (Elsevier). Krishnaswami guided six students towards their PhD degree.
Other Contributions: He was Associate Editor of Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, and Member of Editorial Board of Journal of Earth System Science. He served as Vice-President of IAPSO (International Association for the Physical Sciences of the Oceans), Vice President of SCOR (Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research of ICSU) and Executive Member and Treasurer of IGBP (International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme of ISCU). He was INSA Council Member (2002-04).
Awards and Honours: Krishnaswami received INSA Young Scientist Medal (1975); Krishnan Medal (1981); and SS Bhatnagar Prize (1984). He was a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore; National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad; The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, Trieste; American Geophysical Union; Geochemical Society; and European Association of Geochemistry.