NUS professor Seeram Ramakrishna finds inspiration from Gandhi

NUS professor Seeram Ramakrishna finds inspiration from Gandhi

SINGAPORE - Professor Seeram Ramakrishna, from the National University of Singapore (NUS), has been listed by media and information firm Thomson Reuters as among one of the world's most influential scientific minds.

Prof Ramakrishna, 50, a pioneer in nanofibre production used in fields like healthcare, clean air, clean water and clean energy, was among the 3,200 scientists chosen by the media firm from around the world. There were seven other researchers from NUS and five from Nanyang Technological University in the list, which had the most representation from Harvard University with more than 100 researchers named.

Prof Ramakrishna is the vice-president of research strategy at NUS and has been in Singapore since 1996 when he was offered a Lee Kuan Yew post-doctoral fellowship at the university. He has held various positions at the university since then.

He told tabla! that his main work has involved developing simple and easy-to-use nanomaterials processing methods. "Scientists and engineers around the world have been looking for ways and means to exploit the novel properties of materials at nanometer length scale. The main bottleneck has been the lack of a scalable and cost-effective manufacturing technique," he said.

He is credited with the technology to make translucent braces for corrective dental treatment. He also developed an electrospinning machine which produces a variety of nanofibres. These are then used to regenerate damaged tissues in healthcare, to harvest the sun's energy and store it as well as to treat polluted water.

Talking about his inclusion in the list, Prof Ramakrishna said: "I can use this as evidence to motivate others. I can give confidence to others who otherwise would not conceive of becoming influential and impactful scientific minds in the world."

Prof Ramakrishna, now a Singapore citizen, has his roots in Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, India. He studied in local schools in the Telugu medium until A levels. His father was a high school teacher and mother a housewife. "I am the youngest in a family of four children and hence had enormous freedom to spend the time the way I liked," he said.

He remembered visiting a public library every day after school with his father where he would read newspapers and story books. "My father used to point me to biographies of inspiring people," he said. His mother was instrumental, he said, in his cultural learning. "My mother used to take me to movies, stage shows and temples during the festive season."

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