Ponisseril Somasundaran, an Indian American member of the faculty of Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been chosen as the sole foreign fellow of the prestigious Royal Society of Canada.
The only one from outside Canada to be elected this year, Somasundaran, who has been at Columbia since 1970 will be inducted in a ceremony on Nov 17 at the Ottawa Convention Centre in Ottawa with 70 other fellows.
“Somasundaran is recognized for his ground-breaking contributions towards unraveling complex nano-scale structures and energetics of surfactant self-assemblies and polymer-surfactant hybrids at interfaces,” according to the citation announcing his election.
“He pioneered the use of spectroscopic methods for probing surfactant self-assemblies. His work forms the backbone of many of the current practices in ultra-lean ores beneficiation, hazardous materials/waste water treatment and personal care industry,” it said.
“His seminal work continues to be vital for meeting today’s environmental and sustainability needs,” the citation added.
Founded in 1882, the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) comprises the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada.
Election to its academies is considered one of the highest honours a scholar can achieve in the Arts, Humanities and Sciences.
Somasundaran was named La von Duddleson Krumb Professor in 1983 and was the chairman of the Henry Krumb School from 1988 to 1992 and of the Department of Chemical Engineering, Material Science and Mining from 1992 to 1997.
Somasundaran is currently Director of the National Science Foundation Centre for Advanced Studies in Novel Surfactants and Langmuir Centre for Colloids and Interfaces.
He was one of the youngest members to be elected in 1985 to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest possible distinction then in engineering in the US.
Somasundaran was also elected to the Chinese Academy of Engineering (1998), Indian National Academy of Engineering (1999) and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences (2000) and Balkan academy of science/Mineral Technology.
He was honoured as the only 1989 Distinguished Alumnus and the first Brahm Prakash Chair in 1990 from the Indian Institute of Science.
Elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 2009, he was awarded Padma Shri civilian honour by the Indian Government in 2010. (IANS)