During the 76th Independence Day celebrations on August 15 at the ramparts of Fort St. George in Chennai, an eminent Jesuit scientist received the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin.
Dr. Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu, director of the Xavier Research Foundation of St. Xavier's College in Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli district, Tamil Nadu, south India, was awarded the Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Award for his outstanding contributions to scientific research.
The award is named after India's 11th President and aerospace scientist, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. The Tamil Nadu government honors P. J. Abdul Kalam (1931-2015) for his contributions to science, humanities, and student welfare.
Since 2015, the award has been given out annually. It contains 500,000 Indian rupees (approximately USD 7,700), a certificate, and an eight-gram gold medal.
On the occasion, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Stalin also presented other awards to notable individuals for their contributions in various fields.
Father Ignacimuthu, a Jesuit, served as Vice Chancellor of the University of Madras in Chennai (2002-2003) and Bharathiar University in Coimbatore (2000-2002).
Before these positions, he was Principal at Jesuit-run Loyola College, Chennai (1997–2000), Assistant Director at the Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College, Chennai (1993–1996), Principal at St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai (1992–1993), Vice-Principal and Lecturer, Reader, St. Joseph’s College, Trichy (1980–1992), and Director at the Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College, Chennai.
He was named one of the top 1% of biologists in the world in 2020. After scientists in the United States evaluated his research publications, he was awarded the honor. Three professors at Stanford University in the United States investigated the contributions to the biology of over 100,000 scientists from all over the world.
His research specialization has been in biotechnology, ethnopharmacology, and applied entomology. He has published over 800 scientific journal articles and authored 80 books.
‘Jacthrips ignacimuthui’ is an insect named after him. ‘Ignaciomycin’ is a naturally occurring molecule named after him. He was instrumental in the development of Xavier herbal hand sanitizer to protect against pathogens such as Covid-19.
He obtained his Bachelor’s in Science major in Botany from the University of Madras in 1972, Masters in Science from the University of Madras, Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of Delhi in 1986, Doctor of Science in Biotechnology from the University of Madras in 2001.
Ignacimuthu was visiting scientist at several universities: University of Molecular, Germany; University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA; ETH Zentrum, Zurich, Switzerland, National Institute of Basic Biology, Okazaki, Japan; University of Kaiserslautern, Germany.
He was appointed a member of the Biotechnology Board, Government of Tamil Nadu; Tamil Nadu State Council for Higher Education; Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, New Delhi; International Journal of Plant Cell Biotechnology and Molecular Biology; Wealth of India, CSIR, New Delhi; University of Hyderabad; University of Nagaland, Planning Board, Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, and others.
The 73-year-old Jesuit scientist has received as many as 31 national and international awards and prizes for his scientific contribution.
He has participated in more than 75 national and international seminars and conferences. He has guided over 100 Ph.D. candidates.
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