Vasudevan Bhaskaran Kartha obtained his MSc (1957) from Kerala University. After training at the Atomic Energy Training School, he joined the Spectroscopy Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). He got his PhD (1967) from Bombay University. He was Colombo Plan Fellow (Atomic Energy of Canada and National Research Council of Canada, NRC, 1961-62); post-doctoral Fellow, NRC, Ottawa (1967-69); NRC Visiting Scientist (1975); Visiting Scientist, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden (1975); Visiting Research Officer, NRC, Ottawa (1982); and Visiting Scientist, NIST, Washington (1990). He took voluntary retirement from BARC (1999) to join Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, as Visiting and Research Scientist where he worked till 1997. He then joined the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal, where he established a Centre for Laser Spectroscopy for development of laser applications in Biology and Medicine. He is now Advisor to MAHE for various research programmes.
Academic and Research Achievements: The contributions of Dr Kartha fall mainly in two areas: (i) contributions to nuclear energy programme of the country and (ii) contributions in basic research. His contributions to the atomic energy programme include development of ultra-sensitive spectroscopic analytical methods for analysis of nuclear purity materials, uranium, heavy water, UF6, etc.; investigations in laser isotope separation techniques; and development of highly sophisticated instrumentation for analytical and accelerator-based spectroscopy. Kartha carried out research over a wide range of topics such as cryogenic infra-red spectroscopy; high pressure laser Raman and fluorescence studies; ultra-high resolution diode laser spectroscopy; FTIR spectra of high TC materials; catalysis and catalytic surfaces; high resolution molecular spectroscopy; biochemical and bio-medical applications of spectroscopy for early detection and diagnosis of various forms of cancers, etc. Dr Kartha has several firsts to his credit in the country like, the first molecular laser isotope separation, the first supersonic nozzle beam spectroscopy, the first proteomics studies for cancer detection, etc. He has designed and initiated work on the four spectroscopy beam lines on INDUS I, the first synchrotron source in the country.
Other Contributions: Kartha worked as Member of Spectrographic Analysis of Metals, Minerals and Ores Committee, Indian Standard Institution and Adviser of Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment. He has served on numerous national committees.
Awards and Honours: Kartha was awarded the KR Krishna Iyer Gold Medal, the Rao Bahadur Padmanabha Rao Gold Medal, and the Ross Gold Medal by Kerala University; and the Ratanji Ranchodji Desai Gold Medal of Bombay University. He received UDCT Golden Jubilee Fellow Award of Bombay University (1986); Professor K Rangadhama Rao Memorial Lecture Award of INSA (1991); Professor SC Sirkar Memorial Lecture Award of IACS ((1992); Life-Time Achievement Award from Indian Society of Radiation and Photochemical Sciences (2000); Professor Nandalal Singh Memorial Lecture Award from Laser and Spectroscopy Society of India, BHU (2002). Dr Kartha is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and Laser and Spectroscopy Society of India.