Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
Eelam Tamil Scientists: An Inventory of Their Productivity
5 March 2009
Lieut. Col. Appaiah , Prof. S. Raveendranath
This essay is dedicated to the memories of two Tamil scientists and institution
builders, Lieut. Col. Appaiah Annai [I. Rasiah from Manipay] and
Prof. S. Raveendranath, who
were abducted by para-militaries affiliated to the Sri Lankan army and were put
to death. For the record, Appaiah Annai, abducted on Dec. 24, 1997, was a
home-grown weapon systems-tinkerer and improviser, whose professional
qualification is tagged as garage mechanic. Prof. Raveendranath, abducted on
Dec.15, 2005, was an agricultural pest entomologist.
More than ten years ago, I contributed five short essays to the multi-volume
Biographical Encyclopedia of Scientists
(edited by Richard Olson, Marshall Cavendish Corp., New York, 1998). This
was a five volume compilation profiling 472 representative figures in the
history of scientific investigation. Among its 182 contributors, I was
commissioned to cover five, four of whom were Nobelists in science (namely
Kenichi Fukui, Shibasaburo Kitasato, Karl Landsteiner, Shinichiro Tomonaga and
Hideki Yukawa). As I was residing in Japan, the editor offered me to cover the
lives of four well known Japanese scientists.
Prior to that, I had studied and published on the scientific productivity of
Einstein, Landsteiner and Freud (Sri Kantha, 1996). I also studied eight
prolific, prominent scientists who had published over 1,000 papers and whom I
humorously tagged as kilo-base goliaths (KBGs), and three among these eight were
chemistry Nobelists. (Sri Kantha, 1992a, 1992b). This study also attracted
notice by a peer physiology columnist (Tenney, 1993).
These interests led me to the idea that I should endeavor to collect publication
details of notable Sri Lankan Tamil scientists, which remain dispersed and
inaccessible. This essay is a front runner of this project, and is not meant to
be all inclusive. I have identified 90 Tamil/Muslim scientists, who were
born between 1895 and 1958. If the achievements of other published Tamil/Muslim
scientists have been omitted or slighted, it is mainly due to my ignorance
and lack of access to their published record.
This essay has been in preparation for the past two years. I have had the
benefit of input from physician Nages Nagaratnam (born 1926, currently residing
in Australia) and another Tamil scientist who wishes to remain anonymous. I note
that these two have added valuable details to this essay in themes that I am not
familiar with. First I begin with an email correspondence I had with Dr.
Nagaratnam. I provide excerpts of an e-mail I sent to him on February 24, 2007.
“Last month when I searched the net, I came across the National Academy of
Sciences of Sri Lanka site. I had heard about it, but didn’t take much
interest in the past. When I read through the ‘Academicians’ list, I was
pleasantly surprised to find your name. Sure you deserve to be among the
elites. You have been inducted 30 years ago. Can you provide some
information about this National Academy for me?
1. When was this Academy established?
2. How many were the original ‘founder members’? And on what basis, did
these original ‘founder members’ constitute themselves for the Academy? I
find a few names listed with the tag as ‘founder members’?
3. How does the selection process operate? [I’m just curious. Does every
member of the Academy vote for the initiation of new member? And does this
election occur annually like the American National Academy of Sciences?]
4. Can you provide me a list of Tamil/Muslim scientists (from your memory)
who have been elected to this Academy?
I should mention why I request this information. As you know, I have been
one interested in chronicling our history. And as such, I have been
collecting bio-data and publication records of Eelam Tamil (and a few
Muslims) academics for a survey study, and if possible, for a book project
on Eelam Tamil scientists.”
The very next day, I heard from Dr. Nagaratnam. His e-mail response dated Feb.
25, 2007 was as follows. Relevant excerpts:
“The National Academy of
Sciences of Sri Lanka [NAScSL] was established in 1976. The Act relating
to the NAScSL was passed in parliament only in 1988. I do not know who the
founder members were. Only living founder member is Dr. A.S. Kunasingham,
BS, MS(Hawaii), PhD (Hawaii)/ agriculture economics – development economics.
The first President was Prof. Milroy Paul. I was elected the following year
1977, and was the first clinician and non-academic to be made a Fellow. My
name was proposed by Prof. K.N. Seneviratne, then professor of physiology
and supported by Prof. C.C. de Silva, Prof. Milroy Paul.
There is an election every year by the General Assembly of new Fellows not
exceeding 15 in a given year. Each nominee shall be proposed and recommended
by a certificate in the form prescribed by the Council, signed by three
Fellows one of whom shall be the proposer, one seconder and the third
When the Act was passed in 1988, the schedule had 52 Fellows. The 13 Tamils
were Prof. K.D. Arudpragasam, Prof. K. Balasubramaniam, Dr. S. Gnanalingam,
Mr. E.E. Jeyaraj, Dr.A.S. Kunasingham, Prof. A.W. Mailvaganam,
Dr.N.Nagaratnam, Dr.W.R.N. Nathaniel, Prof.M.A. Paul, Prof.R.S. Ramakrishna,
Dr.S. Sentheshanmuganathan, Prof.G.G.R. Thambyahpillai, Dr.A. Thurairajah.
Upto 2002, the Tamil past Presidents were Prof. Milroy Paul and Dr.K.D.
Arudpragasam. The living Tamil Fellows, as in the Directory of Fellows
(2002) election are: Prof. K.D. Arudpragasam, Prof. K. Balasubramaniam,
Prof. W.R. Breckenridge, Prof. M.A. Careem, Prof. U. Coomarasamy, Prof. M.M.
Ismail, Prof. M.T. Jiffry, Prof. N.S. Kumar, Dr.A.S. Kunasingham (founder
fellow), Prof.W.D. Lakshman, Dr.N. Nagaratnam and Dr.P. Sivapalan. The
Directory of Fellows (2002) had listed 108 Fellows.”
Cut-off Criteria used for this Compilation
Three cut-off criteria were adopted for inclusion in this survey.
First, it is limited to only those who were born either by the end of 1958 or
with a research career span (~25-30 years). Secondly, it is also limited to
those who completed their education at a high school/university in Sri Lanka.
Thirdly, only those scientists who have published in the journals
indexed by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) Web of Science have
been included. I am aware that there are numerous computer
scientists/engineers/physicians who work in industries and for-profit Institutes
who have admirable research credentials, including patents. Due to difficulties
gathering their information, these scientists have been excluded here.
A synopsis on the origin of ‘Scientist’ category at global and ‘local’ levels
Here is a version on the origin of the English word ‘scientist’. According to
Heilbron, a historian of western science, ‘scientist’ also is a word of the
19th century, coined in the 1830s to design the type of people who attended the
meetings of the newly established
British Association for the Advancement of Science. The name did not catch
on: it sounded too professional, too much like ‘dentist’. The preferred term
continued to be ‘men of science’ or ‘scientific men’ until well after the First
World War. ‘Scientist’ came into common use in the 1930s, just as big science
was taking its first toddler’s steps in Ernest Lawrence’s Radiation Laboratory.”
Heilbron continues further:
“The timing of this usage is significant. The phrase ‘a scientist’s
creativity’ could not have been composed before the late 19th century, even
then something like ‘the creativity of a scientific man’ would have been
preferred, to keep the individual’s genius from disappearing into the
professional expertise. By the 1930s scientists had lost this scruple and
accepted their name.”
One would suggest some additional reasons for the elevation of scientist in the
lexicon: call it the ‘Einstein effect’ and or ‘Nobel effect’. The Nobel prizes
established in 1901, as well as the popularity of Einstein’s relativity theory
that captured popular imagination in 1919, contributed more to the prominence of
scientists in the society. Heilbron also records that when the first edition of
the reference work
American Men of Science appeared in 1904, there were 4,000 entries.
By 1930, the number of entries had increased to 20,000.
At the local level, a chronological record of institutionalization of science in
colonial and independent Ceylon is given below. Scientists who were affiliated
to any one of these institutions – other than the CAAS – became, what I tag as,
the pioneers (born before 1920), first generation (born between 1920 and 1939)
and second generation (born between 1940 and 1958) scientists in the island.
1870 – Founding of a medical school in Colombo.
1876 – Establishment of the Colombo Museum.
1900 – De Soyza Bacteriological Institute established in Colombo, which
later morphed into Medical Research Institute (MRI) in 1946.
1910 – Rubber Research Institute (RRI) set up at Agalawatte.
1912 – Department of Agriculture (DOA) established.
1918 – Tea Research Institute (TRI) established at Talawakelle.
1921 – Ceylon University College organized.
1928 – Coconut Research Institute (CRI) set up at Lunuwila.
1942 – University of Ceylon came into existence, following the proclamation
of Ceylon University Ordinance No. 20 of 1942. This act incorporated the
Ceylon Medical College and Ceylon University College into a single
1944 – Establishment of the Ceylon Association for the Advancement of
Science (CAAS), which later changed its name into the Sri Lanka Association
for the Advancement of Science.
1952 – The main campus of the University of Ceylon established in Peradeniya
(Faculty of Engineering set up in 1950; Faculty of Agriculture and
Veterinary Science set up in 1953; the Medical School set up in 1961)
1955 – Establishment of the Ceylon Institute of Scientific and Industrial
1958 – Elevation of Vidyalankara and Vidyodaya Buddhist Colleges to
university status. For a long time, Tamil natural scientists were excluded
in the hiring process of these two universities.
1972 – University of Sri Lanka constituted under the one university scheme,
according to the University of Sri Lanka Act (No.1) of 1972. Katubedda
Technical College, converted to a campus of this single university.
1974 – The Jaffna Campus set up as a wing of University of Sri Lanka.
1981 – Batticaloa University College established, which morphed into Eastern
University, Sri Lanka in 1986.
Parameters of Scientific Productivity
A proper definition of science consists of three interlinked objectives: a study
of the physical and/or natural world based on empiricism, communication (open
exchange of data and ideas) and criticism (devotion to an attitude of
skepticism) (Holden, 1998). Simply stated, the primary function of scientists is
to conduct research and place their findings in the public record for
acceptance and criticism by peers through communication via appropriate academic
More than 8 years ago I received a reprint of a beautiful essay by Harvard
University’s bacteriologist Bernard Davis (1916-1994), published posthumously in
2000, from his wife Elizabeth Davis. In this 13-page essay entitled ‘The
Scientist’s World’, Davis had touched on the multiple facets of a scientist’s
life. I reproduce two paragraphs on scientific writing from this essay for their
relevance and to illustrate how scientist’s stereotyped writing differs from
those of others (fiction writers, journalists, lexicographers, musicians, poets
and playwrights) who practice writing.
“A scientific paper is an unusual art form. It has to be as compact as possible,
while giving the reader all the information needed to repeat the experiments.
Because the literature is vast, the format of a paper is standardized so the
reader can quickly find the parts that interest him; readers skim most of the
papers that they look at, except those very close to their interests. The aim is
efficient, impersonal transmission of the essentials, rather than a narrative
account of the steps along the way. The personal aspects of the process of
discovery are therefore usually left out, though they may appear when the
material is presented in a lecture.
Writing a scientific paper well is difficult, though the problems are different
from those of belles letters. It is a challenge to present the material
compactly but without ambiguity and to organize a complex argument coherently.
Yet despite the stereotyped form, some intellectual leaders, such as Francis
Crick or Jacques Monod, convey an elegant, personal style.” (Davis, 2000)
Thus, the research productivity of a scientist in terms of published papers is
currently measured by the four major parameters (indicated below), each of which
has merits and demerits. These parameters are annotated as follows, and the
merits and demerits have been adopted from Hirsch (2005, 2007):
Total publications = The number of
research publications that have appeared in the journals which are indexed
by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), currently operated by
Thomson Associates. Merit: Total publications measures productivity.
Demerit: it does not measure importance or impact of publications.
Total citations = The number of
citations by other researchers, to a published paper, review, commentary or
letter, that have appeared in the journals indexed. The underlying
assumption here is that a publication that fetches higher number of
citations deserves respect, and indicates the ‘popularity’ of this
publication. ‘Popularity’ is a fluid indicator at best that may reflect
factors such as importance of findings, dissemination mechanism,
‘crowdedness’ of a particular research field, visibility and prestige of the
journal that carried the particular publication. Merit: Total citations
measures total impact. Demerit: this parameter may be inflated by a small
number of ‘big hits’ that may not be representative of the researcher if he
or she is a coauthor with many others on those papers.
h-index = A relatively recent index proposed by Jorge E. Hirsch, that
quantifies a scientist’s research output. (Ball, 2005, 2007; Hirsch, 2005,
2007). The h-index combines the total publications and total citations of an
individual author. According to Hirsch, “A scientist has index h if h of his
or her number of papers (Np) have at least h citations each and
the other (Np-h) papers have (<h) citations each. Some notable
limitations, identified by Hirsch for this parameter are, (1) ‘a high h is a
reliable indicator of high accomplishment, the converse is not necessarily
always true.’ (2) ‘Different disciplines have different citation patterns’.
As such, inter-disciplinary comparison of h-index among researchers is
questionable. (3) ‘A scientist with a high h achieved mostly through papers
with many coauthors would be treated overly kindly by his or her h.
Citations per paper = Its merit is that
this parameter allows comparison of scientists of different eras. One
demerit is that it rewards low productivity and penalizes high productivity.
A caveat about these various bibliometric indicators on citations by Philip
Siekevitz (1991) is in order. “It again bothers me that we rely on anonymous
people in anonymous offices to list correctly all the authors and their
papers on a particular subject. How good are these listings, computerized or
not?” And these “anonymous people” or the ‘computer programs’ crunching such
numbers are not even specialists or experts in all the disciplines they set
out to assess the quality of scientific productivity. Early this year, 55
editors of scientific journals have voiced their opposition to the faulty
use of numbers by the administrative agencies in evaluating scientific
productivity as follows: “We live in an age of metrics. All around us,
things are being standardized, quantified, measured. Scholars concerned with
the work of science and technology must regard this as a fascinating and
crucial practical, cultural and intellectual phenomenon…We now confront a
situation in which our own research work is being subjected to putatively
precise accountancy by arbitrary and unaccountable agencies…This initiative
is entirely defective in conception and execution….” (Cook et al., 2009)
At best, the quantified numbers representing the four bibliometric
indicators indicated above are two dimensional at best, like a photograph of
a person. For the elusive third dimension, one needs to evaluate the entire
career of each scientist.
Pioneers, First Generation and Second Generation
For convenience I have used the four discipline-based categories: biomedical
sciences, chemical, physical and mathematical sciences, engineering sciences and
social sciences. And within each discipline I have clustered the scientists into
three groups: (1) pioneers (born before 1920), (2) first generation (born
between 1920 and 1939), (3) second generation (born between 1940 and 1958).
Pioneers (born before 1920)
I recognize seven pioneers among Eelam Tamil scientists. These are,
Samuel Victor Ousmond Somanader (1897-1978),
Chellappah Amirthalingam (1903-1982), Arumugam Wisvalingam Mailvaganam
(1906-1987), Velupillai Appapillai (1913-2001),
Christie Jayaratnam Eliezer (1918-2001) and Albert Arthur Hoover.
All except Somanader were founding professors (or lecturers) at the University
of Ceylon in their respective disciplines. Unfortunately at the moment, I lack
the birth year-death year details of Prof. Hoover, a teacher of mine during
1973-74, who also then functioned as the honorary patron of the University of
Sri Lanka (Colombo Campus) Tamil Society, during my tenure as its president
(1974-75). I wish that I had asked him for more details about his early
Somanader, I recognize, as one of the two Sri Lankan Tamil scientists born in
the 19th century. He had been an amateur naturalist in the traditions
of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. Apart from his interests in nature
observations, Somanader had varied interests like journalism and photography.
For over 30 years he earned his living as a school teacher at the Batticaloa
Central (Methodist) College and functioning as its principal in his last decade
of his teaching career. As such, all of Somanader’s solitary publications
appeared in local journals, not catalogued in the ISI Web of Science.
C. Suntheralingam, the other Sri Lankan Tamil scientist born in the 19th
century, had a colorful and controversial career as a politician, MP for
Vavuniya, cabinet minister in the first parliament of post-independent Ceylon,
pamphleteer and rabble-rouser. It should not be forgotten that Suntheralingam
was a mathematician by training and was the first professor of mathematics at
the Ceylon University College from 1921 to 1940.
C. Amirthalingam, a younger sibling of Suntheralingam, was one of the first
scientists (if not the first!) from colonial Ceylon to publish in the Nature
journal. After a short career as the Director of Fisheries in the island,
Amirthalingam moved to Sudan and was affiliated to the University of Khartoum
It is also notable that three among the seven pioneers identified here had the
fortune to have Nobel laureates in science as their mentors during their higher
degree studies in UK. Mailvaganam trained under C.T.R. Wilson and the great
Ernest Rutherford. While Appapillai worked with P.M.S. Blackett, Eliezer had
Paul Dirac as his mentor. The scientific productivities of these seven pioneers
(except that of Somanader) was numerically lower. This is understandable because
all of them had to exert their energy in functioning as institution builders,
administrators, teachers and cultural icons of their community in social
First Generation (born between 1920 and 1939)
25 scientists are identified in the first generation category. Lower
productivity of many can be attributed to the same non-research functions
identified for the pioneers. It should be noted that atmospheric physicist S.
Gnanalingam was a son of pioneer C. Suntheralingam.
sciences: Siva Chinnatamby,
N. Nagaratnam, Shan S. Ratnam, S. Sentheshanmuganathan, R. Kanagasuntheram, K.D.
Arudpragasam, K. Balasubramaniam, S. Balasubramaniam, K. Sivapalan, M.R.
Jainudeen, S. Sotheeswaran, A.H. Sathananthan, P. Sivapalan, V.K. Ganesalingam,
Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences:
M.U.S. Sultan Bawa, S. Gnanalingam, M.A.V. Devanathan, M. Sundaralingam, R.S.
Engineering Sciences: K. Arulanandan,
Social Sciences: S.J. Tambiah, S.
Arasaratnam, S. Thananjayarajasingham.
Second Generation (born between 1940 and 1958)
58 scientists are identified in the second generation category. While the
pioneers and the first generation types have predominantly restricted their main
research location to Sri Lanka and UK, the second generation had become more
international and expanded their research territorial range to other English
speaking countries (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore) as well
as non-English speaking European and Asian countries.
Biomedical sciences: R.R. Selvendran, C.
Santiapillai, R. Rudran, K. Sivasithamparam, N. Sreeharan, K. Kailasapathy, S.
Arulkumaran, R. Rajamahendran, P. Gopalakrishnakone, R. Sivakanesan, K.
Ranjadayalan, K. Arumuganathan, V. Rasiah, R. Ramasamy, S. Raveendranath, S.V.
Rajakulendran, A. Balasubramaniam, S. Sri Kantha, Rajani Thiranagama, W.T.
Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences:
M. Singham, P. Kathirgamanathan, S. Surendrakumar, G.C.J. Fernandez, S.
Hariharan, V.S. Manoranjan, S.S. Sritharan, A. Thavaneswaran, V. Jeyakumar, S.
Engineering Sciences: S. Naguleswaran, A.
Kumar David, A.S. Balasbramaniam, D.J. Gunaratnam, S. Sivasegaram, A.P. S.
Selvadurai, S. Selvalingam, V. Thevendran, R. Srikanthan, J.G. Shantikumar,
Indira V. Samarasekara (nee Arulpragasam), S. Vigneswaran, T. Sritharan, S.R.H.
Hoole, S. Parameswaran, R. SriRanjan, M. Sivapalan, C. Sriskandarajah, A.
Anandarajah, K.S. Sivakumaran, R. Siddharthan, N. Sri Namachchivaya, C.
Vipulanandan, M. Mahendran.
Social Sciences: Radhika
Coomaraswamy, N. Shanmugaratnam, A. E. Selvanathan, S. Selvanathan.
Bibliometric Indicators; some notable records
For each of the 87 scientists identified in this essay (excluding three
pioneers: Suntheralingam, Somanader and Appapillai), I provide four personal
parameters (year of birth and year of death [if known] within parenthesis
following the name: productivity span (PS): research specialty (RS) and main
research location (MRL). For quite a number of scientists even the year of birth
(YOB) is tentatively guessed and noted with a question mark(?). Personal details
of scientists are hard to assemble and had been gathered from my personal
knowledge, collections and recorded memories. Even a simple statistic relating
to YOB (and year of death/YOD) has been left unfilled, if not known for sure. A
few to whom I have corresponded, failed to respond to my query and one or two
were reluctant to divulge their YOB. The four parameters of scientific
productivity included are: total publications (TP), total citations (TC),
h-index and citations per publications (C/P). These four bibliometric indicators
are valid as of Dec.31, 2008, according to the publications indexed in the ISI
Web of Science database.
From Archimedes to Einstein, scientists have been born-travelers and
peregrination is part of their trait; this has been so for the Tamil scientists
in the 20th and the 21st centuries – fleeing from
persecution, discrimination and looking for work opportunities at research
centers that have been willing to accept them for their merits. As such, the
most recent work site of each scientist is provided adjacent to MRL, as far as
these can be ascertained from their place of publications, Google-based
information and personal knowledge. The names of scientists are arranged
tentatively according to the YOB, within each of the four main categorical
I apologize that I have not included the bibliometric details of a few
scientists whom I have known individually for technical reasons. These include,
Prof. C. Sivagnanasunderam, Prof. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson, Prof. A. Thurairajah,
Prof. Mano Sabaratnam, and Dr. Velmurugu Ravindran. Common surnames like
Balasubramaniam, Ravindran, Sivapalan and even Srikantha(!) are shared by Tamils
living in India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. These Hindu names having the same
single letter initials become homonyms and get pooled together in the scientific
databases programmed with Christian naming pattern having multiple letter
initials in mind by the indexers and cataloguers. Lately in the correspondence
pages of the Nature journal, Hindu scientists (from India and Singapore),
Buddhist scientists (from Japan) and even Muslim scientists have complained
about the vagaries of such Christian based name programming in databases. Unless
one is sure about research specialty and work location of each scientist, it
becomes a tussle to loosen the knots of individual achievements.
The bibliometric indicators of two deceased scientists are of noticeable grade.
Gynecologist-obstetrician Shan S. Ratnam (1928-2001) has the highest number of
research publications amounting to 554, with 4,226 total citations and an
h-index ranking of 30. Biochemist-crystallographer M. Sundaralingam (1931-2004)
has the best all-round indicators, with 364 publications, 14,743 total citations
and the h-index ranking of 61. While visiting homeland, Sundaralingam lost his
life prematurely on Dec.26, 2004 to the Big Tsunami that struck Trincomalee.
The total publication numbers achieved by Ratnam and Sundaralingam are of some
significance. In an obituary note on Cyril Ponnamperuma (Sri Lanka’s most
recognized Sinhalese scientist) I contributed to the Lanka Guardian
journal, I had annotated as follows: “Ponnamperuma published over 300 research
papers in the field of chemistry and chemical evolution, edited 16 books and
authored a couple of books (vide, The International Who’s Who 1994-95,
Europa Publications) in his professional career which spanned almost 35 years. I
believe that among the Sri Lankan scientists, only P.E.P. Deraniyagala, the
former director of the National Museums of Ceylon, could match this prolific
record. According to a count published in the Spolia Zeylanica (1960,
vol.29), Deraniyagala had published 323 papers between 1923 and 1960. But it
should be noted that Deraniyagala edited Spolia Zeylanica and majority of
his publications appeared in this journal, and probably without peer review.
Ponnamperuma did not have this luxury.” (Sri Kantha, 1995)
Though the current list is dominated by male scientists, mention should be made
about a few female scientists who have raised their status against parochialist
interests such as sexism, racism and casteism. I recognize Dr. Siva Chinnatamby
(1920-2001) as the foremost woman pioneer among Sri Lankan Tamil scientists. The
track records of Navam Hettiarachchy (nee Mylvaganam) and Indira Samarasekara
(nee Arulpragasam) currently active in North America do have meritorious status. Professor
Indira Samarasekara is currently serving as President of the University of
Alberta, Canada, a feat never before achieved by a Sri Lankan scientist, male or
[Country abbreviations used: SL=Sri Lanka, UK=United Kingdom, USA=United States
Bibliometric Inventory of Biomedical Scientists
Amirthalingam, Chellappah (1903-1982) - PS: 1927-32, RS: marine biology,
MRL: UK, SL, Sudan. [formerly at University of Khartoum] TP=5, TC=5,
h-index=1, C/P= 1.0
Hoover, Albert Arthur - PS: 1937-73, RS: biochemistry, MRL: UK, SL.
[formerly at University of Jaffna] TP=5, TC=41, h-index=4, C/P=8.2
Chinnatamby, Siva (1923-2000) – PS: 1965-71, RS:
medicine/gynecology-obstetrics. MRL: UK, SL. TP=2, TC=15, h-index=1, C/P=7.5
Nagaratnam, Nages (1926- ) – PS: 1958-current, RS: medicine/internal
medicine, geriatrics, MRL: SL, UK, Australia. [University of Sydney] TP=90,
TC=356, h-index=10, C/P=4.0
Ratnam, Shan S. (1928-2001) – PS: 1971-2004, RS:
medicine/gynecology-obstetrics, MRL: SL, Singapore [formerly at, National
University of Singapore] TP=554, TC=4,226, h-index=30, C/P=7.6
Sentheshanmuganathan, S. – PS: 1956-76, RS: biochemistry, MRL: UK, SL
[formerly at, Medical Research Institute] TP=9, TC=132, h-index=6, C/P=14.7
Kanagasuntheram, R. (1930s- ) – PS: 1957-86, RS: medicine/anatomy. MRL:
Singapore. [formerly at, National University of Singapore] TP=57, TC=484,
Arudpragasam, Kandiah David (1932-2003) – PS: 1964-66, RS: zoology/marine
biology, MRL: UK, SL. [formerly at, University of Colombo] TP=3, TC=134,
Balasubramaniam, Kandiah (1932- ) – PS: 1964-2001, RS: biochemistry, MRL:
USA, UK, SL, Sweden. [formerly at, University of Jaffna] TP=36, TC=283,
Balasubramaniam, S. (1930s - 1992) – PS: 1968-1995, RS: plant biochemistry,
MRL: UK, SL [formerly at, University of Peradeniya] TP=48, TC=489,
Sivapalan, Karthigesu (1932-1985) – PS: 1971-85, RS: plant biochemistry,
MRL: India, SL [formerly at, Tea Research Institute]. TP=8, TC=46,
Jainudeen, M.R. (1930s - ) – PS: 1965-2005, RS: Veterinary
Science/mammalogy, MRL: SL, Malaysia, Indonesia [formerly at, Universiti
Putra Malaysia] TP=40, TC=384, h-index=11, C/P=9.6
Sotheeswaran, Subramaniam (1930s - ) – PS: 1965-current, RS: organic
chemistry, MRL: UK, SL, Fiji [at University of the South Pacific]. TP=85,
TC=951, h-index=17, C/P=11.5
Sathananthan, A. Henry (1934- ) – PS: 1960-current, RS: zoology/embryology,
MRL: SL, Australia [at Monash University] TP=51, TC=1,120, h-index=20,
Sivapalan, P. (1936- ) – PS: 1964-80, RS: zoology/entomology, MRL: USA, SL
[formerly at, Tea Research Institute] TP=17, TC=67, h-index=4, C/P=3.9
Ganesalingam, V.K. (1936?- ) – PS: 1970-74, RS: zoology/entomology, MRL: UK,
SL [formerly at, University of Jaffna] TP=3, TC=78, h-index=3, C/P=26.0
Hettiarachchy (nee Mylvaganam), Navam (1939- ) – PS: 1974-current, RS: food
biochemistry, MRL: UK, SL, USA [at University of Arkansas]. TP=80, TC=1,007,
Selvendran, Robert Rasiah (1940? - ) – PS: 1967-99, RS: plant biochemistry,
MRL: SL, UK [at Institute of Food Research, Norwich]. TP=91, TC=3,585,
Rudran, R (1940s - ) – PS: 1972-2003, RS: zoology/primatology, MRL: USA [at
National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution]. TP=13, TC=566,
Sivasithamparam, Krishnapillai (1940s - ) – PS: 1979-current, RS: plant
biology, MRL: SL, Australia [at University of Western Australia]. TP=287,
TC=2,487, h-index=22: C/P=8.7
Sriharan, Nadarajah (1940s - ) – PS: 1979-94, RS: medicine, MRL: UK
[University of Surrey]. TP=24, TC=1,650, h-index=9, C/P=68.8
Santiapillai, Charles (1944 - ) – PS: 1982-current: RS: zoology/mammalogy,
MRL: UK, SL [at University of Peradeniya]. TP=24, TC=24, h-index=2, C/P=1.0
Kailasapathy, Kasipathy (1947 - ) – PS: 1991-current, RS: food science, MRL:
SL, USA, Australia [at University of Western Sydney]. TP=81, TC=691,
Arulkumaran, Sabaratnam (1948 - ) – PS: 1982-current, RS: medicine/
gynecology-obstretrics, MRL: Singapore, UK [at St. George’s University of
London]. TP=282, TC=2,129, h-index=24, C/P=7.5
Rajamahendran, Rajadurai (1949? - ) – PS: 1976-current, RS: Veterinary
Science/Endocrinology, MRL: SL, Canada [at University of British Columbia].
TP=104, TC=1,016, h-index=18, C/P=9.8
Gopalakrishnakone, P (1949? - ) – PS: 1978-current, RS: medicine/
anatomy-toxicology, MRL: UK, SL, Singapore [at National University of
Singapore]. TP=172, TC=1,382, h-index=20, C/P=8.0
Sivakanesan, Ramaiah (1950? - ) – PS: 1980-current, RS: Veterinary
Science/Biochemistry, MRL: UK, SL [at University of Peradeniya]. TP=11,
TC=35, h-index=4, C/P=3.2
Rasiah, Velu (1949? -) – PS: 1989-curent, RS: soil science, MRL: USA,
[at Queensland Department of Primary Industries]. TP=55, TC=487,
Ramasamy, Ranjan (1950? -) – PS: 1974-current, RS: medicine/immunology, MRL:
UK, SL, Brunei [at University of Brunei Darussalam]. TP=52, TC=473 H=14
Raveendranath, Sivasubramaniam (1951 -) – PS: 1980-2008, RS: entomology,
MRL: UK, SL. [formerly at, Eastern University]. TP=1, TC=14, h-index=1,
Rajakulendran, S. Victor (1951? - ) – PS: 1986-current, RS: entomology,
MRL=USA, Australia. TP=3, TC=52, h-index=3, C/P=17.3
Ranjadayalan, Kulasegarum (1951? - ) – PS: 1990-current, RS: medicine, MRL:
UK. [at Newham University Hospital] TP=84, TC=1,130, h-index=17, C/P=13.5
Arumuganathan, K. (1951? - ) – PS: 1991-current, RS: plant molecular
biology, MRL: UK, USA. [at Virginia Mason University] TP=40, TC=649,
Balasubramaniam, Ambihaipahan (1952? - ) – PS: 1980-current, RS:
biochemistry, MRL: USA. [at University of Cincinnatti] TP=155, TC=2,727,
Kantha, Sachi Sri (1953 - ) – PS: 1983-current, RS: zoology/behavioral
biology, MRL: SL, USA, Japan. [at Gifu Pharmaceutical University] TP=79,
TC=339, h-index=8, C/P=4.3
Thiranagama (nee Rajasingham), Rajani (1954-1989) – PS: 1986-91, RS:
medicine/anatomy, MRL: UK [formerly at, University of Jaffna] TP=5, TC=26,
Vigneswaran, Wickii Thambiah (1957? - ) – PS: 1978-curent, RS:
medicine/anatomy, MRL: USA. [at University of Chicago Medical School] TP=76,
TC=408, h-index=10, C/P=5.4
Bibliometric Inventory of Chemical, Physical and Mathematical
Mailvaganam, Arumugam Wisvalingam (1906-1987) – PS: 1945-54, RS: atmospheric
physics, MRL: UK, SL [formerly at, University of Colombo]. TP=6, TC=17,
Eliezer, Christie Jayaratnam (1918-2001) – PS: 1943-2000, RS: applied
mathematics, physics, MRL: UK, SL, Malaysia, Australia [formerly at, La
Trobe University] TP=30, TC=388, h-index=8, C/P=12.9
Sultan Bawa, Muhammad Uvais Sideek (1921-1999) – PS: 1949-1989, RS: organic
chemistry, MRL: UK, SL [formerly at, University of Peradeniya] TP=89,
TC=1,281, h-index=20, C/P=14.4
Gnanalingam, Suntheralingam (1924 - ) – PS: 1952-95, RS: atmospheric
physics, MRL: UK, SL, USA. [formerly at, CISIR, SL] TP=7, TC=68, h-index=6,
Devanathan, Malcolm A.V. (1925? – 1977) – PS: 1953-81, RS: physical
chemistry, MRL: UK, USA, SL, India [formerly at, Tea Research Institute, SL]
TP=41, TC=2,281, h-index=16, C/P=55.6
Sundaralingam, Muttiah (1931-2004) – PS: 1960-2006, RS:
biochemistry/crystallography, MRL: USA. [formerly at, Ohio State University]
TP=364, TC=14,743, h-index=61, C/P=40.5
Ramakrishna, R.S. (1932-2003) – PS: 1960-89, RS: inorganic chemistry, MRL:
UK, SL. [formerly at, University of Colombo] TP=29, TC=163, h-index=8,
Singham, Mano (1940s - ) – PS: 1989-2003, RS: physics, MRL: SL, USA. [at
Case Western Reserve University] TP=19, TC=19, h-index=2, C/P=1.0
Kathirgamanathan, P. (1951? - ) – PS: 1979-2004, RS: inorganic chemistry,
MRL: UK. [at South Bank University] TP=64, TC=741, h-index=14, C/P=11.6
Surendrakumar, S. (1951 - ) – PS: 1980-99, RS: organic chemistry, MRL: SL,
UK. [at South Bank University] TP=31, TC=863, h-index=20, C/P=27.8
Hariharan, Subramania Iyer, (1952? -) – PS: 1980-current, RS: mathematics,
MRL: USA. [at University of Akron] TP=38, TC=198, h-index=7, C/P=5.2
Fernandez, George C. J., (1952? -), - PS: 1980-current, RS: applied
statistics, MRL: USA. [at University of Nevada, Reno] TP=45, TC=296,
Manoranjan, Vallipuram S., (1953? -) – PS: 1982-current, RS:
mathematics, MRL: UK, USA. [at Washington State University] TP=39, TC=534,
Sritharan, S.S., (1954? -) – PS: 1984-current, RS: applied mathematics, MRL:
USA. [at Naval Postgraduate School] TP=32, TC=290, h-index=10, C/P=9.1
Thavaneswaran, A. – PS: 1986-current, RS: statistics, MRL: USA, Canada. [at
University of Manitoba]. TP=45, TC=128, h-index=6, C/P=2.8
Jeyakumar, Vaithilingam – PS: 1985-current, RS: applied mathematics, MRL:
Australia. [at University of New South Wales] TP=84, TC=804, h-index=17,
Sivananthan, Sivalingam – PS: 1988-current, RS: applied physics, MRL: USA.
[at University of Illinois, Chicago] TP=175, TC=2,497, h-index=28, C/P=14.3
Bibliometric Inventory of Engineering Scientists
Arulanandam, Kandiah (1925-2004) – PS: 1960-2004, RS: civil engineering,
MRL: UK, USA. [formerly at University of California, Davis] TP=39, TC=374,
Ariaratnam, Samuel T. – PS: 1960-2001, RS: civil engineering, MRL: UK,
Canada. [formerly at University of Waterloo] TP=52, TC=527, h-index=14,
Naguleswaran, Sivapatham – PS: 1970-current, RS: mechanical engineering,
MRL: UK, SL, New Zealand [at University of Canterbury] TP=39, TC=298,
Kumar, David A. – PS: 1968-current, RS: electrical engineering, MRL: SL,
Hongkong. [at University of Hong Kong] TP=83, TC=752, h-index=15, C/P=9.1
Balasubramaniam, A.S. – PS: 1968-2004, RS: civil engineering, MRL: SL,
Thailand. [formerly at Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok] TP=30,
TC=234, h-index=10, C/P=7.8
Sivasegaram, S. – PS: 1969-current, RS: mechanical engineering, MRL: SL, UK.
[at University of Peradeniya]. TP=18, TC=148, h-index=7, C/P=8.22
Gunaratnam, David J. – PS: 1969-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL: SL,
Australia. [at University of Sydney] TP=11, TC=17, h-index=2, C/P=1.6
Selvalingam, Selvadore – PS: 1970-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL: SL,
Thailand, Singapore, Australia. [at Deakin University] TP=10, TC=21,
Selvadurai, A. Patrick S. – PS: 1971-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL:
UK, Canada. [at McGill University] TP=211, TC=918, h-index=13, C/P=4.4
Thevendran, V. – PS: 1972-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL: UK, SL,
Singapore. [at National University of Singapore] TP=41, TC=159, h-index=8,
Srikanthan, Ratnasingham, (1949? -) – PS: 1982-current, RS: civil
environmental engineering, MRL: Australia [at Bureau of Meteorology] TP=39,
TC=197, h-index=8, C/P=5.1
Shanthikumar, J. George, (1950? -) – PS: 1979-current, RS: industrial
engineering, MRL: Canada, USA [at University of California, Berkeley]
TP=168, TC=2,301, h-index=26, C/P=13.7
Samarasekara (nee Arulpragasam), Indira (1952 - ) – PS: 1980-current, RS:
mechanical engineering, MRL: USA, Canada [at University of Alberta] TP=97,
TC=1,183, h-index=22, C/P=12.2
Vigneswaran, Saravanamuthu, (1951?-) – PS: 1980-current, RS: environmental
engineering, MRL: France, Thailand, Australia [at University of Technology,
Sydney] TP=143, TC=936, h-index=15, C/P=6.5
Sritharan, Thirumany, (1952? - ) – PS: 1981-current, RS: civil engineering,
MRL: UK, Australia, Singapore [at Nanyang Technological University] TP=60,
TC=379, h-index=11, C/P=6.3
Hoole, S. Ratnajeevan H. (1952 - ) – PS: 1983-current, RS: electrical
engineering, MRL: USA, SL [at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Hartfort]
TP=80, TC=413, h-index=12, C/P=5.2
Parameswaran, Sivapathasuntharam, (1952 - ) – PS: 1985-current, RS:
mechanical engineering, MRL: UK, USA [at Texas Tech University] TP=16,
TC=30, h-index=3, C/P=1.9
Sivapalan, Murugesu (1953 - ) – PS: 1986-current, RS: civil and
environmental engineering, MRL: Australia, USA [at University of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign] TP=118, TC=2,497, h-index=30, C/P=21.2
Sriskandarajah, Chelliah – PS: 1986-current, RS: industrial engineering,
MRL: USA. [at University of Texas at Dallas] TP=75, TC=1,014, h-index=17,
Anandarajah, Annalingam, (1954? -) – PS: 1983-current, RS: civil
engineering, MRL: USA. [at Johns Hopkins University] TP=40, TC=292,
Sivakumaran, K.S., (1954? - ) – PS: 1984-current, RS: civil engineering,
MRL: Canada. [at University of Calgary] TP=26, TC=148, h-index=8, C/P=5.7
Siddharthan, Raj, (1954? -) – PS: 1984-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL:
Canada, USA [at University of Nevada, Reno] TP=34, TC=212, h-index=9,
Sri Namachchivaya, Navaratnam – PS: 1984-current, RS: mechanical
engineering, MRL: Canada, USA [at University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign] TP=76, TC=603, h-index=13, C/P=7.9
Vipulanandan, Coomaraswamy – PS: 1984-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL:
USA. [at University of Houston] TP=77, TC=390, h-index=11, C/P=5.1
Mahendran, Mahen – PS: 1985-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL:Australia.
At Queensland University of Technology] TP=32, TC=118, h-index=7, C/P=3.7
SriRanjan, Ranjan (1952? -) – PS: 1989-current, RS: agricultural
engineering, MRL: Canada. [at North Carolina State University] TP=7, TC=24,
Bibliometric Inventory for Social Scientists
Tambiah, Stanley Jeyarajah (1929 - ) – PS: 1957-2005, RS: anthropology, MRL:
UK, SL, USA. [formerly at Harvard University] TP=25, TC=254, h-index=6,
Arasaratnam, Sinnappah (1930-1998) – PS: 1966-98, RS: history, politics,
MRL: SL, Malaysia, Australia. [formerly at University of New England] TP=24,
TC=12, h-index=2, C/P=0.5
Thananjayarajasingham, Sabaratnasinghe (1933-1977) – PS: 1973-76, RS: Tamil
linguistics, MRL: SL.[formerly at University of Kelaniya/Vidyalankara] TP=6,
TC=1, h-index=1, C/P=0.2
Coomaraswamy, Radhika (1940s - ) – PS: 1978-2004, RS: law. MRL: USA, SL.
[affiliated to the United Nations Organization] TP=6, TC=2, h-index=1,
Shanmugaratnam, Nadarajah (1940s - ) – PS: 1986-current, RS: agricultural
economics. MRL: SL, Norway. [at Norwegian University of Life Sciences]
TP=19, TC=87, h-index=5, C/P=4.6
Selvanathan, Antony E. (1955 - ) – PS: 1986-current, RS: business economics.
MRL: Australia. [at Griffith University] TP=30, TC=165, h-index=8, C/P=5.5
Selvanathan, Saroja (1954 - ) – PS: 1987-current, RS: business economics.
MRL: Australia. [at Griffith University] TP=24, TC=78, h-index=4, C/P=3.3
A table prepared to present
the details in scientific productivity of these 87 scientists in a comparative
fashion is provided in a pdf file format. Pioneers Suntheralingam, Somanader
and Appapillai have been excluded in this listing. One may be tempted to ask,
what is the meaning of these numbers for Tamil scientists? Do they serve any
societal need in this time of crisis? As answers, I concur with a few inferences
derived by clinical psychologist Anne Roe (1953), from her study of 64 leading
American scientists. These are,
(1) “Scientists are people, not rational automatons. They differ from other
people in terms of what they do, in the things that give them satisfaction,
more than in terms of completely special capacities.”
(2) “One of the first things one notes about scientists is the fact that a
large part of their time is spent in thinking about things, in a
(3) “Make no mistake, an extreme degree of concentration is needed. There is
so much to learn, so much to master of what is already known, before further
steps can be taken, and there are few shortcuts. In this sense, this
driveness is a help to professional accomplishment.”
These inferences appear in the final chapter [‘What does it mean for You?’] of
Anne Roe’s book. The numbers provide a measure of each individual scientist’s
“driveness” and “professional accomplishment.”, whether one is decorated with a
Nobel prize or a Fellowship in any of the Academy of Sciences. But wisdom also
dictates that one shouldn’t be a slave to numbers! In this aspect, what was
presented in the first chapter [‘How this Research Study Developed] by Anne Roe
also deserves attention. She emphasizes that scientists are ‘free people’ and
they care for much for this freedom. To quote, “Research scientists usually are
in a position to control their own work and this is one of the reasons, I think,
why they derive such tremendous gratification from it.” This issue of freedom
also explains the peregrination issue of why such a number of pioneers (such as
Amirthalingam and Eliezer), first generation and second generation scientists
belonging to Tamil ethnics from Sri Lanka have bothered to escape from the
manacles of state oppression, restriction and discrimination.
Four sentences of Anne Roe that appear in the same paragraph also are symbolic
of the situation faced by Lieut. Col. Appaiah Annai in the 1980s. To reproduce
“In the special circumstances of mobilization of scientists for war, again
the problem is set for them, although some of them, at least, must have
considerable freedom in working out the methods of approach. Any diminution
of a scientist’s accustomed freedom to control his own work and what he says
about it is a major frustrating experience to him and one for which he
naturally has very little tolerance. All of his professional activities are
predicated, in a sense, upon the possession of this freedom. Normally,
however, the scientist is his own boss as far as his research is concerned,
and he is limited only by the time at his disposal (his primary job may be
college teaching, for example) and the equipment available to him (although
this is less often a serious limitation than one might think).”
Appaiah Annai’s primary job was not “college teaching”, but vehicle repair.
Nevertheless, he was a teacher in weapon systems-tinkering and improvising to
his young cadets. Appaiah Annai didn’t have a Ph.D, neither did Thomas Edison
nor the Wright Brothers? Those who read the short sketch of Appaiah Annai’s
career that appeared in the Oru Paper (London) of Dec. 27, 2008 can be
impressed by his ‘never give-up spirit’ of a scientist.
One final note: In the absence of any other comparative scale similar to that of
the ISI-Web of Science database, this has been used here for inventory. It
should not be forgotten that the total publications (TP) counted in the ISI-Web
of Science database has to be taken as optimal productivity of each
scientist, as the journal selection criteria for this database has an
exclusivity bias. But, the maximal productivity of each scientist
included here is higher than that of the TP counted in the ISI-Web of Science
database. To illustrate this issue, I present my case as a representative
example. I have 14 published papers in peer reviewed journals (5 in Ceylon
Medical Journal, 2 in the Journal of National Science Council of Sri
Lanka, 1 in Jaffna Medical Journal, 3 in Asian Medical Journal/Japan,
1 in Connective Tissue Research/Japan and 2 in Nutrisyon/Philippines),
none of which has been included in the ISI Web of Science database. Technically,
none of the scientific journals published in Sri Lanka is included in the
ISI-Web of Science database. As such, the TP scores of the pioneers and many of
the first generation scientists included in this list do suffer from this
exclusion bias. For instance, S. Raveendranath’s optimal productivity in terms
of TP is only one. But I’m aware that his maximal productivity is more than one.
On being reproached that his formula of gravitation was longer and more
cumbersome than Newton’s, the great Einstein had responded with a quip, ‘If you
are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor.’ [Mackay, 1992].
In the spirit of Einstein, I infer that the details presented on the
productivity of Sri Lankan Tamil scientists, born between 1895 and 1958, as
measured by the currently accepted yardsticks present the apparent truth, and
the elegance have been left out for tailors [such as the National Academy of
Sciences of Sri Lanka] who promote parochial interests and politics. Though some
of the Tamil scientists included in this survey had been elected as the Fellows
of the National Academy of Sciences of Sri Lanka in the past, based on evidence
of scientific productivity, it is a given that as it has been constituted now,
entry into this Academy appears doomed for majority of the other Tamil
scientists who were born in post-independent Sri Lanka and had been laboring in
the island or elsewhere.
To conclude in a lighter vein, here is a quip about the plight of a most
prolific Creator and discoverer, recorded two decades ago.
“If God applied for a research grant to develop heaven and an earth, He would be
turned down nowadays on the following grounds: (1) His project is too ambitious.
(2) He has no previous track record. (3) His only publication is a book, not a
paper in a refereed journal. (4) He refuses to collaborate with his biggest
competitor. (5) His proposal is all up in the air.” [Anon, 1989].
The punchline of this joke is that even God is bound to get rejections from the
gatekeepers of science. Like in other competitive fields, the life of a harried
and harassed Tamil scientist is filled with rejections, disappointments,
competition for shrinking research budget and lack of adequate recognition in
one’s home country or adopted country. Despite these handicaps, the souls who
endeavor to chase their dreams and show leadership skills to the younger
generations deserve some recognition, and this essay is a tribute to the spirit
of such trendsetters.
It will indeed be a fruitful exercise, if an attempt is made subsequently to
prepare an inventory of scientific productivity of younger Tamil scientists
(born since 1958) who are currently making their grade in research.
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