27th Convocation
28th Convocation, Gauhati University

Monday, 24th February, 2020
Venue : 
Sports Complex, Gauhati University 




Prof Sudhir Kumar Sopory


The Person

The Convocation Address in this 28th Convocation will be delivered by Padma Shri Prof Sudhir Kumar Sopory, eminent educationist, plant physiologist, scientist, and former vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University. Widely acclaimed as a person of great intellect, Prof Sopory is known to be the first to purify a protein kinase C activity from plants and is credited with the identification of topoisomerase as a substrate of protein kinase C. He is an elected Fellow of several major science academies including Indian National Science Academy (INSA), National Academy of Sciences, India (NASI), and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS). Among many accolades and awards that he has won, the most prestigious are the fourth highest civilian honour of the country, Padma Shri, in 2007 and Shanti Swarup Bhatangar Award, the highest Indian award in the science and technology in 1987.

During his researches at Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Sopory developed a plant breeding methodology to produce monohaploids of potato, in 1978. His researches at University of Texas assisted in the discovery of the role of calcium and calmodulin in higher plants and, while in Maryland, he worked on D1 protein to find the mechanism behind it. In the early Nineties, he worked under R Hermann on promoter analysis of light regulated genes encoding proteins involved in photosynthesis. His researches on the gene expression and the activity of nitrate reductase revealed the effect of light on the turnover of phosphoinositide cycle. This helped explain light signal transduction in plants.


Biography

Born on 7 January 1948, Prof Sopory secured his BSc degree in 1966 and MSc degree in 1968 from Sri Pratap College, Sri Nagar under the University of Kashmir. Subsequently, he moved to University of Delhi as a member of faculty and pursued his doctoral studies there to obtain a PhD in plant molecular biology in 1973. After his PhD, he joined Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1973 as an Assistant Professor and worked there till his superannuation in 1996, holding positions as Associate Professor (1978–1984), Professor (1985–1996). During his tenure at JNU, he worked at various overseas educational institutions including Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne (1976–1978), University of Texas as a visiting Fulbright fellow (1981–1982), USDA Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory, Maryland and University of Munich as a visiting Humboldt Professor (1991–1992). After his superannuation, he joined International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) New Delhi, as a group leader of research in plant molecular biology in 1997, and became the interim director of the institution in 2010. In 2011, he was appointed as the vice chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, a post he held till 13 January 2016).

From Wikipedia

Research and Administration

During his researches at Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research, Cologne, Prof Sopory developed a plant breeding methodology to produce monohaploids of potato, in 1978. His researches on the gene expression and the activity of nitrate reductase revealed the effect of light on the turnover of phosphoinositide cycle  helped explain light signal transduction in plants. Prof Sopory is reported to be the first to purify a Protein Kinase C from plants and he has been successful in identifying topoisomerase I, as a substrate of Protein Kinase C in plants. Based on his work on dehydration stress and salinity-related gene regulation, he is known to have developed a new methodology for gene amplification and a Polymerase chain reaction-based protocol for manipulating differentially-expressed genes and their promoters. Working on rice (Oryza sativa) and Pennisetum, he evolved new methodologies for producing stress tolerant transgenic plants. His researches on glyoxalase system in plants explained how it affected the stress environment and he propounded a process how transgenic plants capable of growing in conditions of high salinity could be developed by manipulating glyoxalase I and glyoxalase II - two enzymes related to the detoxification of methylglyoxal, the organic compound known to increase the level of stress response of plants.

Prof Sopory's researches have been documented in over 250 articles published in peer reviewed journals. He has been the editor of 13 books on the subject and has contributed 53 chapters to books written/edited by others. He is the president of the Indian Society of Plant Physiology and the vice president of the National Academy of Sciences, India, Allahabad.

He has served as the vice president of such organisations as Indian Society for Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (2001–2003), Indian National Science Academy (2004–2006) and the Society for Plant Biochemistry and Biotechnology, New Delhi (2009–2011) and is a former secretary of the Plant Tissue Culture Association of India (2001–2010). During his stint as the vice chancellor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the institution is reported to have acquired a new 1000-acre campus in South Delhi. The university started new doctoral research courses in Energy studies, Human rights, Silk Route studies, Climate change and Biotechnology and inaugurated a new website and a cyber library during this period. He has also mentored many students in their doctoral studies.

With inputs from Wikipedia