Prof. Roddam Narasimha

Prof. Roddam Narasimha

Prof. Roddam Narasimha

Dr Roddam Narasimha is presently a DST Year-of-Science Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research.
He was educated at the University College of Engineering and at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, and obtained his PhD at the California Institute of Technology, USA, in 1961. He joined the Indian Institute of Science in 1962 and was associated with the Department of Aerospace Engineering in various capacities from that date till 1999. In 1982 he founded the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences (now Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences), which he headed till 1989. During 1984 to 1993 he was Director of the National Aerospace Laboratories. For many years since 1982 he held a visiting position at Caltech, as Clark B Millikan Professor or Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar. During 1989-90 he was Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University in England. He has also held visiting positions at NASA Langley, Strathclyde, University of Brussels, Adelaide University etc. From 1990 to 1994 he was INSA Golden Jubilee Research Professor, and from 1994 to 1999 the ISRO K R Ramanathan Distinguished Professor, at IISc/JNCASR. He was Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies during 1997-2004.

Prof Narasimha’s research has been chiefly concerned with aerospace and atmospheric fluid dynamics. He is internationally known for his  extensive studies of transitions between laminar and turbulent flow (going in either direction), the structure of shock waves, various characteristics of fully developed turbulent flow (e.g. their memory, the bursting phenomenon in boundary layers), the fluid dynamics of clouds, near-surface temperature distributions and eddy fluxes in tropical  atmospheric boundary layers. His recent laboratory studies on cloud flows, carried out with colleagues and students, have been called ‘amazing’, resulting in ‘groundbreaking research’ on an important scientific problem rellevant to global climate change and the Indian monsoons.

He has been closely associated with aerospace technology development in India at both technical and policy-making levels. During 1977-79, he was the Chief Project Coordinator in Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and led a joint HAL-NAL-IISc team carrying out early conceptual studies of the LCA.  As Director of NAL he initiated and oversaw several major technology programmes, including the development of carbon composite wings and flight control systems for the LCA.  Under his leadership NAL made the first parallel computer in the country in 1986, and fabricated and flew the first fibre glass aircraft in the country.   He served on the Board of Directors of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for several years. As a member of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Scientific Advisory Council he was instrumental in establishing a major parallel computing initiative in the country. He was President of the Indian Academy of Sciences during 1992-94 and spear-headed a new programme on university education in science, leading to the establishment of the journal Resonance and other Academy programmes involving teachers and students. He has served  three terms on the National Security Advisory Board.  Currently he is a member of the Scientific Advisory Council  to the Prime Minister. He has been a member of the Space Commission since 1989. He led conceptual studies of the Indo-French atmospheric research satellite Megha-Tropiques,  and  continues to be Co-Chairman the Joint Scientific Working Group for the satellite.

As Director of NIAS Prof Narasimha initiated a series of major dialogues on international security issues with the US National Academy of Sciences and other bodies, and pursued his interests in the history of science and technology and the philosophy underlying Indic ratinalism.

He has been widely honoured for his research work as well as his scientific leadership. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and a Foreign Associate of both the US National Academy of Engineering and the US National Academy of Sciences. He is also an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was awarded the Trieste Science Prize for Engineering Sciences in 2008 for ‘his distinctive and original contributions to fluid dynamics and its applications in aerospace technology and atmospheric dynamics’.  In 2000 he won the Fluid Dynamics Award of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astonautics. In India his distinctions include the Bhatnagar Prize, the Gujarmal Modi Award, the Ramanujan Award, the Aryabhata Aeard, and the Padma Bhushan, among many others. He is a Fellow of all the national academies of science and engineering, and an Honorary Fellow of the Aeronautical Society of India. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of Caltech and was conferred the Honorary Fellowhsip of  IISc as part of its centenary celebrations.  He has delivered invited lectures at the International Congress of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, the Australasian Fluid Mechanics Conference, the American Institute of Aeronautics  and astronautics, and various other national and international meetings.  He was also the LSG Kavasznay Lecturer at the University of Texas at Houston and the Sixth Yunchuan Aisinjioro-Soo Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He has been conferred honorary dectoral degrees by Roorkee, Banaras and Gulbarga Universtites, and the Desikottama award by Shantiniketan.  His books include Verses for the Brave; he has edited or co-edited The Dynamics of TechnologyAn Encyclopaedia of classical Indian SciencesNature and Culture and 15 other books on fluid dynamics and related subjects.

He is the author of more than 250 research publications, mostly in fluid mechanics, aerospace science and atmospheric dynamics.

Education Honours Professional Affiliations

  • B.E in Mechanical Engineering (I Class), University of Mysore 1953
  • Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering (I Rank), Indian Institute of Science 1955
  • Associateship of the Indian Institute of Science 1957
    (Thesis: A study of transition from laminar to turbulent flow in the boundary layer on a flat plate, Advisor: Prof S Dhawan)
  • Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Physics, California Institute of Technology 1961
    (Thesis: Some flow problems in rarefied gas dynamics, Advisor: Prof H W Liepmann)


  1. Sharadamba Prize, University of Mysore 1953
  2. The Minta Martin National Student Award, Institute of Aerospace Sciences (USA) 1960
  3. Member, Sigma Xi 1962
  4. Burmah-Shell Award, Aeronautical Society of India 1970
  5. Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences 1972
  6. Bhatnagar Prize in Engineering Sciences, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research 1976
  7. Homi Bhabha Award for Research in Applied Sciences, University Grants Commission 1976
  8. Fellow, Indian National Science Academy 1979
  9. Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar, California Institute of Technology 1982-83, 1986
  10. Member, New York Academy of Sciences 1983
  11. Honorary Fellow, Aeronautical Society of India 1985
  12. Clark B Millikan Visiting Professor, California Institute of Technology 1985
  13. Bhatnagar Medal, Indian National Science Academy 1985
  14. Kannada Rajyothsava Award, Karnataka Government 1986
  15. Distinguished Alumnus, California Institute of Technology 1986
  16. Padmabhushan Award, Government of India 1987
  17. Fellow, Indian National Academy of Engineering 1987
  18. Distinguished Alumnus, Indian Institute of Science 1988
  19. Elected Foreign Associate, National Academy of Engineering, USA 1989
  20. Fellow, Third World Academy of Sciences 1989
  21. Jawaharlal Nehru Visiting Professor of Engineering, University of Cambridge, UK 1989-90
  22. Gujar Mal Modi Award for Science 1990
  23. Fellow of the Royal Society, London, UK 1992
  24. Fellow, American Institute of Astronautics & Aeronautics 1993
  25. Abhinandana, Akhila Bharata Madhva Mahamandala, February 1994
  26. L.S.G. Kovasznay Distinguished Lecturer, University of Houston, Texas April 1994
  27. D.Sc. (h.c.) Gulbarga University 1994 Inaugural (1994-2000)
  28. Valedictory Speaker at the Minnowbrook Conference I-V, Minnobrook, NY, USA, 1994-2006
  29. Distinguished Engineer Award, Engineering Staff College of India (Institution of Engineers), 15 September 1995
  30. D.Engg. (h.c.) Roorkee University 1996
  31. National Design Award, Institution of Engineers 1996
  32. Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal, Indian Science Congress 1998
  33. Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1999
  34. Fluid Dynamics Award, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics 2000
  35. Foreign Associate, National Academy of Sciences, USA 2000
  36. Fellow, The World Innovation Foundation, UK 2000 Yunchuan Asinjioro-500 Distinguished Lecturer, University of Illinois, September 2002
  37. Aryabhata Award, Astronautical Society of India, Ahmedabad, India 2004 (awarded on 5th August 2006)
  38. Fellow, Indian Geophysical Union
  39. Doctor of Science (h.c.) Banaras Hindu University, 2002
  40. Distinguished Fellow, Astronautical Society of India, May 2003
  41. Sixth Yunchuan Aisinjioro-Soo Distinguished Lecturer, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign), 2002
  42. Life Time Contribution Award in Engineering 2003, Indian National Academy of Engineering
  43. Honorary Fellow, Indian Institute of Science 2008
  44. Trieste Science Prize in Engineering Sciences, TWAS 2008
  45. Desikothama from Visva Bharati University 2008
  46. PhD (h.c) from Visweswaraiya Technical University, Belgaum, Dec 2008
  47. Zakri Hussain Memorial Award of the Indian Society of Industrial & Applied  Mathematics, Agra, 14 Jan 2007
  48. The Kamal Kumari National Award for Science and Technology 2009
  49. Lakshmipat Singhania – IIM, Lucknow National Leaderhip Awards 2010
  50. Sir M. Visvesvaraya Senior Scientist State Award for the year 2010
  51. Distinguished Alumnus Award, University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering and Key Note Speaker

    at the UVCE Mega Reunion 2011

  52.  Life Time Achievement Award, H.K. Firodia Momorial Foundation, Pune, 17th November 2011
  53. Ani-muthyalu Award, Sahiti Gagan mahal Trust, Penukonda A.P. Jan 2012
  54. Sir M Visweswaraya State Award for Science and Technology 2012
  55. 10th Sir J.C. Bose Award, honoured by The Indian Science Monitor, Bangalore, 8th January 2013
  56. Padma Vibhushan Award, Science and Engineering 2013
  57. Life Time Excellence Award in the sphere of Earth System Sciences, New Delhi 27 July 2013

 Professional Affiliations

  1. Co-Chairman, Joint Scientific Working Group and Joint Steering Committee Megha Tropiques (ISRO-CNES) (1999-)
  2. President, Indian Academy of Sciences (1992-94); Secretary and Member of the Council (1979-85); Vice President (1986-91)
  3. Chairman, Experts Group on failure of ASLV, ISRO (1988-89)
  4. Chairman, Asian Fluid Mechanics Committee (1992-2002), Member 1984-
  5. Member, Working Committee for Current Science
  6. (Founding) Chairman, Editorial Board, Sādhanā (Proc. Engg. Sci.), Indian Academy of Sciences
    (1978-91), Consulting Editor 1996-
  7. Member, Editorial Boards of: Experiments in Fluids (Springer -2002)
    Fluid Dynamics Research (North Holland -2002), Journal of Aerospace Engineering ( I Mech E,UK)
  8. Member-at-large (member 1992-2008) 2008-, General Assembly of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (IUTAM) and of the Fluid Mechanics Symposia Panel
  9. Member, Bureau of the International Union of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (2000-2008)
  10. Member of the Council, Indian National Science Academy (1982-86)
  11. Chairman (1982-85), Member (1985-88), Indian National Committee for Theoretical and Applied Mechanics
  12. Chairman, Indian National Committee for IGBP (1997-2000), Member (2000)
  13. Member, Indian Meteorological Society
  14. Fellow, Indian Astronautical Society
  15. Fellow, Indian Geophysical Union
  16. Founder President, Indian Society for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation
  17. Pratt & Whitney Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering, University of Hyderabad, Central
    University P.O. Hyderabad – 500 046
  18. Chairman, Research Council, National Commission for the History of Science, INSA, 2004-2010
  19. Chairman, Editorial Board, Indian Journal of History of Science 2004
  20. Chairman, Advisory Board, CSIR ( 1999-2002)
  21. Member, US National Science Foundation Panal on Insternational Science and Engineering 2010-
  22. Chairman, Governing Council, Centre for Liquid Crystals Research (now Centre for Soft Matter Research): 2003-2011

Positions Held

       In India

  • Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies 1997-2004
  • ISRO K R Ramanathan Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research 1995-2000
  • Honorary Professor, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, Indian Institute of Science 1993-1998
  • Indian National Science Academy Golden Jubilee Professor 1990-1994
  • Professor and Chairman, Engineering Mechanics Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research 1989-
  • Director, National Aerospace Laboratories 1984-1993
  • Convenor, Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, Indian Institute of Science 1982-1989
  • Chairman, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science 1983-1984
  • Dean, Engineering Faculty, Indian Institute of Science 1980-1982
  • Chief Project Coordinator, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited 1977-1979
  • Professor, Indian Institute of Science 1970-1993
  • Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Science 1967-1970
  • Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science 1962-1967
  • National Institute of Science Junior Fellow at Indian Institute of Science 1955-1957
  • Honorary Distinguished Professor of Department of Space 2013-2015
  • Academy Professor of AcSIR (Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research) 2013-
  • DST Year-of-Science Professor 2013-2017


  • Jawaharlal Nehru Professor, Cambridge University, UK 1989-1990
  • Clark B Millikan Visiting Professor, California Institute of Technology (Caltech) USA (2 months every year) 1985-1989
  • Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar, Caltech, USA 1982-1983 & 1986
  • Leverhulme Fellow, University of Adelaide, Australia, Summer 1975
  • Senior Visiting Fellow, Department of Mathematics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK 1971-1972
  • Visiting Scientist, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Brussels, Summer 1970
  • Visiting Senior Research Fellow, Caltech, USA, Summer 1963, 1964 & 1966
  • Research Fellow, Caltech, USA 1961-1962
  • Research/Teaching Assistant, Caltech, USA 1957-1961


  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, USA 1961-1962
  • H Plesset Associates, Inc., Los Angeles, USA 1961-1963
  • National Aeronautical Laboratory, Bangalore 1969-1971
  • Space Science and Technology Centre, Trivandrum 1969
  • Institute of Computer Applications in Science & Engineering (ICASE), NASA (USA) 1990-1993
  • Member of various design review boards for Vikarm Sarabhai Space Centre, Trivandrum
  • Indian Space Research Organization and Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore

Advisory Positions

  • Member, Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister 2005-
  • Member, Indo-French Forum 2005
  • Member, National Security Advisory Board 1998-2000, 2005
  • Member, Indira Gandhi National Council for Arts 2004
  • Member, Council for Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium 1995-2000
  • Indian National Commission for History of Science 1997-
  • Member, Consultative Group of Eminent Senior Scientists, Government of India 2000-
  • Member, Space Commission 1989-
  • Member, Group on Telecommunications 1989-
  • Member, Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet 1997-1999
  • Member, Defence R&D Council 1995-
  • Member, Technology Development Board 1995-
  • Chairman, Programme Advisory Committee on Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Science & Technology 1995-1997
  • Chairman, Engineering Sciences Research Committee, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research 1995-1998
  • Chairman, Research Council, Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre 1995-1997
  • Chairman, National Steering Committee for Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Computer and Allied Sciences 1995
  • Member, Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC), Department of Science & Technology 1991-1997
  • Member, Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council 1987-1997
  • Member, Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister 1986-1989
  • Member, Joint Council of Integrated Long Term Programme of Co-operation in Science and Technology between India and the Russian Federation
  • Member, Board of Directors, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited 1985-1998
  • Member, Society and Governing Body, Aeronautical Development Agency 1983-1993
  • Executive Delegate for India, Commonwealth Advisory Aeronautical Research Council 1983-1993
  • Member, Aeronautics Research and Development Board, Government of India 1978-1993