Prof. Govindjee: A Pioneer in Photosynthesis Research

Meher Wan


Prof. Govindjee is an Indian-American scientist who is known for his seminal scientific contributions in understanding the mechanism behind Photosynthesis. He was born in Allahabad and did his MSc from the University of Allahabad, then moved to the USA for his PhD under renowned scientist Robert Emerson. Prof. Govindjee has been recognised as an expert in photosynthesis and bestowed upon several prestigious awards for his pioneering scientific contributions including Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1976 and the prestigious communication award from the International Society of Photosynthesis Research in 2007, to recognise his important service in communication and outreach to the general public on photosynthesis.


Meher Wan: Prof. Govindjee, you are still involved in your scientific work at the age of 87. How do you feel after such a long journey in science?

Prof. Govindjee: I feel really very good that I am still able to participate in research and writing on a topic that is very dear to me and it is very important for the benefit of us all.


MW:  So, how did this journey begin?

Prof. Govindjee: This journey began when I was an MSc student of Prof. Ranjan in the Department of Botany, University of Allahabad. Prof. Ranjan himself had studied under Professor Blackman of UK. Blackman was known for his pioneering research in photosynthesis. There was a Botanical Society at the University of Allahabad. We students used to organise quite a few activities to learn science together. In the process of organizing one of the events, I became interested in photosynthesis.


MW: You, along with your fellow students, organized a mock symposium during your MSc at the University of Allahabad. What was that?

Prof. Govindjee: Yes, this was the real beginning in photosynthesis and great fun as we assumed the role of major discoverers in photosynthesis like Prof. Joseph Priestley, Otto Warburg, Jan Ingenhousz and even Robert Emerson. It brought to life the past discoverers and their discoveries before the students and teachers. We went to libraries and to professors to understand the discoveries of those scientists and then presented in that mock symposium. It was a unique process of learning for us. I think I played Robert Emerson in that more.