IIT Madras launches ‘V. Balakrishnan Institute Chair’ dedicated to the Indian Theoretical Physicist

CHENNAI : Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) launched ‘V. Balakrishnan Institute Chair’ on 15th July 2022 to focus on research and teaching in the areas of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and theoretical foundation of Engineering.

The Chair was named in honor of Prof. V. Balakrishnan, a former faculty of IIT Madras and a distinguished Indian theoretical physicist whose expertise spans several fields and areas, including particle physics, many-body theory, and the mechanical behavior of solids, dynamical systems, stochastic processes, and quantum dynamics. He is an accomplished researcher who has made important contributions to the theory of anelasticity, continuous-time random walks, and recurrences in dynamical systems.

The Chair was endowed by Dr. Satish Ramakrishna, an IIT Madras alumnus who is currently the Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer of Two Sigma Investments, a New York-based hedge venture capital firm. Mr. Satish Ramakrishna belonged to the 1987 batch of the Department of Electrical Engineering, IIT Madras.

Announcing the first occupant of ‘V. Balakrishnan Institute Chair’, Prof. V. Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Prof. V. Balakrishnan is one of the greatest teachers and researchers who had served in IIT Madras. He Is also the most loved, respected, and adored faculty of the Institute. I congratulate Prof. Sarit Kumar Das for being the first occupant of this illustrious Chair.”

Speaking during the event, Dr. Satish Ramakrishna, Managing Director and Chief Risk Officer, Two Sigma Investments, said, “Prof. V. Balakrishnan is intensely analytical and is a great communicator of a rational approach to life, which is an approach followed by intelligent and purposeful people. The occupants of the Chair have a high mark to aspire to.”

Addressing the audience, Prof. V. Balakrishnan, Professor Emeritus, said, “Based on my experience, I learned to never presume that when you know something, you know about it completely. You should also never presume that everybody should know about it too. As a teacher, I’ve learned to put myself in the shoes of the students.”

Further adding, Prof. Balakrishnan, said, “I am extremely optimistic about the future of IIT Madras. There has been a tremendous change in the Institute in the last 40 years. The rankings have improved, thanks to the efforts of the various stakeholders of the Institute.”

Prof. Sarit Kumar Das, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, was selected as the first occupant of the ‘V. Balakrishnan Institute Chair.’ Prof. Sarit Kumar Das’ research varies from a wide range of heat transfer applications such as nanofluids, biological heat transfer microfluidics, and nanoparticle mediated drug delivery in cancer cells. He is also an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India, and the Indian National Academy of Engineering.

Delivering the welcome address during the event, Prof. Mahesh Panchagnula, Dean (Alumni and Corporate Relations), IIT Madras, said, “This Chair is bound to attract some of the brightest minds to come to IIT Madras and also aspire to become an occupant of this Chair. This occasion is also the time to reminiscence the journey of IIT Madras in the last 60 years. Today for every one faculty position that the Institution advertises for, around 40 people apply for the position. This is a leading indicator of a good educational Institute.”

Delivering the acceptance speech, Prof. Sarit Kumar Das, Department of Mechanical Engineering, IIT Madras, said, “I consider it my greatest achievement to be the first occupant of this illustrious Chair. Thank you for this honour.”