Hyderabad: Dr S. Venkata Mohan has been recently named for the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology, the highest Science award in the country, also called the “Indian Nobel Prize”.
While congratulatory messages have been pouring in for the principal scientist of Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences division of Chemical Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), at his home in Tarnaka, where Dr Mohan stays in a joint family of 14 members, celebrations are “just about normal”.
“My daughter, Sumana, is 12 years old, and my son, Deepak, is 14. They don’t see me as a big scientist. I am just ‘dad’ for them. My family is full of science experts. Awards, big or small, keep coming. So it’s normal. Both my younger brothers, Krishna and Ram, are scientists. And my father, Jayaram Reddy, was a Chemistry professor at Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati (his hometown).”
The 43-year-old adds: “I was holidaying with my family at Andaman Islands when I got the news. So we celebrated there.”
Dr Mohan’s job entails guiding PhD students, handling administrative tasks and conducting experiments in labs.
Since 2002, he has been working on “sustainable waste remediation technologies” for which he has won six national and international awards as also seven patents. He explains: “I am trying to develop one integrated method which can treat waste water as well as produce valuable by-products such as biohydrogen (clean fuel), biodiesel and bioplastic. The challenge is to make it economically viable for industries.”
It is a lot of work and Dr Mohan is usually up at 4 am every day. “My wife (Kavitha) and kids often complain that I don’t give them enough time. But they understand. Luckily, I am in a joint family, there are many who can help Kavitha with the household chores when I cannot.”
Does he find time to help his kids with school projects? “If they are related to environment, I do, that’s my field. At other times, they go to my father. He has been a professor, so he explains clearly.”...