Ilankai Tamil Sangam
18th Year on the Web
Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA
Sri Lankan Tamil Scientists:
An Inventory of Their Productivity
by Sachi Sri Kantha, March 4, 2009
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 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 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 on 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.
The very next day, I heard from Dr. Nagaratnam. His e-mail response dated Feb. 25, 2007 was as follows. Relevant excerpts:
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 John Heilbron, a historian of western science, "‘scientist’ also is a word of the 19th century, coined in the 1830s to designate 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:
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 much to the prominence of scientists in 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 the pioneers (born before 1920), first generation (born between 1920 and 1939) and second generation (born between 1940 and 1958) scientists on 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 institution.
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 Research (CISIR).
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 journals.
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 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 a scientist’s stereotyped writing differs from those of others (fiction writers, journalists, lexicographers, musicians, poets and playwrights) who practice writing.
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, Chellappah Suntheralingam (1895-1985), 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 reminiscences.
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 functioned as its principal in the last decade of his teaching career. As such, all of Somanader’s solitary publications appeared in local journals, and are 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 for long.
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 productivity 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 service.
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.
Biomedical 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, Navam Hettiarachchy.
Chemical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences: M.U.S. Sultan Bawa, S. Gnanalingam, M.A.V. Devanathan, M. Sundaralingam, R.S. Ramakrishna.
Engineering Sciences: K. Arulanandan, S.T. Ariaratnam.
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 the UK, the second generation became more international and expanded their research territorial range to other English speaking countries (the 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. Vigneswaran
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. Sivananthan.
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 one of their traita; 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 divisions.
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 a 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 his 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 the 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 female.
[Country abbreviations used: SL=Sri Lanka, UK=United Kingdom, USA=United States of America.]
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, h-index=13, C/P=8.5
Arudpragasam, Kandiah David (1932-2003) – PS: 1964-66, RS: zoology/marine biology, MRL: UK, SL. [formerly at, University of Colombo] TP=3, TC=134, h-index=3, C/P=44.7
Balasubramaniam, Kandiah (1932- ) – PS: 1964-2001, RS: biochemistry, MRL: USA, UK, SL, Sweden. [formerly at, University of Jaffna] TP=36, TC=283, h-index=10, C/P=7.9
Balasubramaniam, S. (1930s - 1992) – PS: 1968-1995, RS: plant biochemistry, MRL: UK, SL [formerly at, University of Peradeniya] TP=48, TC=489, h-index=13, C/P=10.2
Sivapalan, Karthigesu (1932-1985) – PS: 1971-85, RS: plant biochemistry, MRL: India, SL [formerly at, Tea Research Institute]. TP=8, TC=46, h-index=4, C/P=5.8
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, C/P=22.0
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, h-index=19, C/P=12.6
Selvendran, Robert Rasiah (1940? - ) – PS: 1967-99, RS: plant biochemistry, MRL: SL, UK [at Institute of Food Research, Norwich]. TP=91, TC=3,585, h-index=32, C/P=39.4
Rudran, R (1940s - ) – PS: 1972-2003, RS: zoology/primatology, MRL: USA [at National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution]. TP=13, TC=566, h-index=9, C/P=43.5
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, h-index=12, C/P=8.5
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, Canada, Australia. [at Queensland Department of Primary Industries]. TP=55, TC=487, h-index=12, C/P=8.9
Ramasamy, Ranjan (1950? -) – PS: 1974-current, RS: medicine/immunology, MRL: UK, SL, Brunei [at University of Brunei Darussalam]. TP=52, TC=473 H=14 C/P=9.1
Raveendranath, Sivasubramaniam (1951 -) – PS: 1980-2008, RS: entomology, MRL: UK, SL. [formerly at, Eastern University]. TP=1, TC=14, h-index=1, C/P=14.0
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, h-index=17, C/P=16.2
Balasubramaniam, Ambihaipahan (1952? - ) – PS: 1980-current, RS: biochemistry, MRL: USA. [at University of Cincinnatti] TP=155, TC=2,727, h-index=28, C/P=17.6
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, h-index=2, C/P=5.2
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 Scientists
Mailvaganam, Arumugam Wisvalingam (1906-1987) – PS: 1945-54, RS: atmospheric physics, MRL: UK, SL [formerly at, University of Colombo]. TP=6, TC=17, h-index=3, C/P=2.8
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, C/P=9.7
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, C/P=5.6
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, h-index=11, C/P=6.58
Manoranjan, Vallipuram S., (1953? -) – PS: 1982-current, RS: mathematics, MRL: UK, USA. [at Washington State University] TP=39, TC=534, h-index=10, C/P=13.7
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, C/P=9.6
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, h-index=9, C/P=9.6
Ariaratnam, Samuel T. – PS: 1960-2001, RS: civil engineering, MRL: UK, Canada. [formerly at University of Waterloo] TP=52, TC=527, h-index=14, C/P=10.1
Naguleswaran, Sivapatham – PS: 1970-current, RS: mechanical engineering, MRL: UK, SL, New Zealand [at University of Canterbury] TP=39, TC=298, h-index=11, C/P=7.6
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, h-index=3, C/P=2.1
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, C/P=3.88
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, C/P=13.5
Anandarajah, Annalingam, (1954? -) – PS: 1983-current, RS: civil engineering, MRL: USA. [at Johns Hopkins University] TP=40, TC=292, h-index=10, C/P=7.3
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, C/P=6.2
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, h-index=2, C/P=3.4
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, C/P=10.2
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, C/P=0.4
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,
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 these: “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, but 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 are 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 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 elegance has 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 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 the majority of the other Tamil scientists who were born in post-independent Sri Lanka and have been laboring on 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.
Amaradasa RMW, de Silva MAT: The evolution and structure of science and technology in Sri Lanka. Science Technology Society, 2001: 6(1): 179-201.
Amarasuriya NR: Scientific journals of Sri Lanka. Information Development: 1991: 7(4): 204-207.
Anon: The powers that be. Chemistry in Britain, 1989: 25: 663.
Ball P: Index aims for fair ranking of scientists. Nature, 2005: 436: 900.
Ball P: Achievement index climbs the ranks. Nature, 2007: 448: 737.
Cook, H et al. Journals under threat: a joint response from History of Science, Technology and Medicine editors. Medical History, 2009; 53: 1-4.
Davis, BD: The Scientist’s World. Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews, 2000; 64: 1-12.
Heilbron JL: Creativity and big science. Physics Today, 1992 Nov.: 42-47.
Hirsch JE: An index to quantify an individual’s scientific research output. Proc. National Acad. Sci. USA, 2005: 102: 16569-16572.
Hirsch JE: Does the h index have predictive power? Proc. National Acad. Sci. USA, 2007: 104: 19193-19198.
Holden C: Defining ‘Science’ for the People. Science, 1998; 280: 663.
Mackay AL: A Dictionary of Scientific Quotations, Institute of Physics Publishing, Bristol, 1992, p.81.
Roe A: The Making of Scientist, Dodd, Mead and Co, New York, 1953, pp. 1-17 and 230-244.
Siekevitz P: Low citation rates – who is to blame? FASEB Journal, 1991: 5: 2217.
Sri Kantha S: Productivity drive. Nature, 1992a; 356: 738.
Sri Kantha S: Clues to prolific productivity among prominent scientists. Medical Hypotheses, 1992b; 39: 159-163.
Sri Kantha S: Scientific productivity of Einstein, Freud and Landsteiner. Medical Hypotheses, 1996; 46: 467-470.
Sri Kantha S: Cyril Ponnamperuma – scientist extraordinary. Lanka Guardian, July 15, 1995, p. 19.
Tenney M: Kilo-base Goliaths. News in Physiological Sciences, 1993; 8: 186.