Renowned scientist Dr. P.K.K. Nair, founder Director and Emeritus Chairman of ERRC passed away at his residence in Bengaluru on Saturday 21 January 2017 at 8.00 pm. Dr. Nair, born on 06 February 1930 in Perunna, Changanassery, had a brilliant academic career, with B.Sc. (1950) from the University of Kerala; M.Sc. (1952) from the Banaras Hindu University;, and Ph.D. (1958) from the Lucknow University while serving the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany (BSIP), Lucknow (1952-1958). He joined CSIR in 1958 at the National Botanical Gardens (now National Botanical Research Institute), Lucknow and rose to the position of Senior Deputy Director over the period 1958-1991. He also served Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), Palode, Thiruvananthapuram on deputation from CSIR during 1981-1983. In 1991, Dr. Nair founded the Environmental Resources Research Centre (ERRC), Thiruvananthapuram, which emerged by now as a platform for research and development in Tropical Biology, Ecology and Sustainable Development. He served ERRC as Director from May 1991 to January 2016, and from then on as Emeritus Chairman.
Dr. Nair, often referred to as the ‘Father of Indian Palynology’ (study of pollen grains) was initiated into the Science of Palynology in 1952, which he enriched with over 200 research publications, including 28 books, producing also 30 Doctoral students from various Indian Universities. Among his academic contributions, the change of the very concept of Palynological Science based in plant reproductive biology and the Triphyletic Theory of Origin and Evolution of Angiosperms are significant. His book Essentials of Palynology provided the first ever teaching material not only for Indian students, but also in the Department of Geology of the University of Texas, USA.
At the same time as conducting and promoting research, Dr. Nair did yeoman service in the organization of palynological activities in India and elsewhere, through conducting seminars and symposia under the auspices of Palynological Society of India (PSI), which he founded in 1964. He was the guest of honour of the British Council (England), Academy of Sciences (USSR) and also the CSIO, Australia. Dr. M.S. Swaminathan aptly sums up the personality of Dr. Nair thus: “…. Dr. Nair is the don of Indian Palynology. He is a role model for students and young scientists, since he has shown through his personal life and work the meaning of the word ‘Dedication’. He has tried to instil a love for palynology among students of biology and medicine. He has also shown the vital significance of the science of palynology in crop improvement”.