Roddam Narasimha

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Roddam Narasimha
Rodham Narasimha.jpg
Born(1933-07-20)20 July 1933
Died14 December 2020(2020-12-14) (aged 87)
Alma materMysore University
Indian Institute of Science
California Institute of Technology
Scientific career
FieldsFluid dynamics
ThesisSome Flow Problems in Rarefied Gas Dynamics[1][2] (1961)
Doctoral advisorHans W. Liepmann[3]
Doctoral studentsK. R. Sreenivasan[4]
Rama Govindarajan[5]

Roddam Narasimha (20 July 1933 – 14 December 2020) was an Indian aerospace scientist and fluid dynamicist. He was a professor of Aerospace Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science (1962–1999), director of the National Aerospace Laboratories (1984–1993) and the chairman of the Engineering Mechanics Unit at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR, 2000–2014).[6] He was the DST Year-of-Science Chair Professor at JNCASR and concurrently held the Pratt & Whitney Chair in Science and Engineering at the University of Hyderabad. Narasimha was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India's second-highest civilian award, in 2013.[7]

Early life[edit]

Narasimha was born on 20 July 1933. His family traces its origins to Roddam, a village in the Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.[8] His father, R.L. Narasimhaiah, was a professor of physics in Bangalore's Central College, and was also a Kannada language science writer with a focus on physics and astronomy.[9]

Narasimha completed his schooling at Acharya Pathasala in the Gandhi Bazaar neighbourhood of Bangalore.[8] He obtained his graduate degree in mechanical engineering from University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering in Bangalore, which was affiliated with Mysore University. During this time he visited the Tata Institute (now known as the Indian Institute of Science), where the Spitfire aircraft displayed in the aeronautical department caught his interest. After his graduation in 1953, while he was encouraged by his family members to accept a job with the Indian Railways or with Burmah Shell, he went on to join the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore for his master's degree in engineering, which he completed in 1955.[10] During this time he worked with Satish Dhawan, who later chaired the Indian Space Research Organisation. He then went to the United States to complete his doctorate in 1961 under Hans Liepmann at the California Institute of Technology.[11]


Narasimha started his research career at Caltech, working on the problem of jet engine noise reduction. After the launch of the Russian Sputnik and the resulting interest in space programs, he shifted focus to rarefied gas and fluid dynamics, working with Hans W. Liepmann.[12] He continued this research at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he went on to study aerodynamics and supersonic flows toward better understanding of the structure of shockwaves. During this time, he worked on one of the space agency's first computers.[12]

He returned to India in 1962, and joined the Indian Institute of Science as a professor in its aeronautical engineering department (1962–1999), where he continued his fluid dynamics research, studying turbulent flow and relaminarisation, including the study of fluid flow from turbulent (chaotic) to laminar (streamlined) forms.[12] In 1970, he was a member of the investigation team under Satish Dhawan that studied the airworthiness of Indian Airlines Avro 748.[12][13]

He was the ISRO K. R. Ramanathan distinguished professor at the Indian Institute of Science (1994–1999), Director of the National Aerospace Laboratories (1984–1993), Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (1997–2004) and the Chairman of the Engineering Mechanics Unit at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore (2000–2014).[14] He was the DST Year-of-Science Chair Professor at JNCASR and also held the Pratt & Whitney Chair in Science and Engineering at the University of Hyderabad.[12][15] He was also a visiting member of the faculty at international universities including the University of Brussels, Caltech, University of Cambridge, Langley Research Center, University of Strathclyde and University of Adelaide.[12] He served former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's scientific advisory council.[12]

During his time at the National Aerospace Laboratories, Narasimha led the research initiative into parallel computing as a means to solve fluid dynamics problems.[12][16] His efforts lead to first parallel computer in India and development of a code for weather prediction of tropical regions. He was also a contributing member to the team that designed the light combat aircraft.[17]

Over the course of his six decade long academic career he has made significant contributions to fundamental and applied fluid dynamics. At the Indian Institute of Science, his research included the ‘bursting’ phenomenon in a turbulent boundary layer,[18] non-linear vibration of an elastic string,[19] equilibrium and relaxation in turbulent wakes,[20] relaminarization,[21] hydrodynamic instability,[22] wall jets[23] and the study of clouds[24][25] as volumetrically heated jets. At the Engineering Mechanics Unit of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Narasimha continued his research on fluid dynamics of clouds via laboratory experiments[26] as well as numerical simulations.[27] He also studied gas turbine blades,[28] turbulent free shear layers[29] and proposed a novel wing design for turboprop aircraft.[30]

He was the longest-serving member of the Indian Space Commission, a policy-making body for space exploration in India.[12] He resigned from this position in February 2012, in protest at the blacklisting of three former ISRO technocrats including G. Madhavan Nair, former ISRO chairman, for their perceived role in a controversial agreement between ISRO's commercial entity Antrix and Devas Multimedia in 2005.[31][32]


Narasimha was an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and also of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He was a distinguished alumnus of Caltech and the IISc.[33][34] He was also a foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences in the United States.[35]

Some of his honours and awards include:

He was the author of more than 200 research publications and fifteen books.[43]

Personal life[edit]

Narasimha died on 14 December 2020, from brain haemorrhage at the MS Ramaiah Memorial Hospital in Bangalore. He was 87 and was survived by his wife and daughter.[44]


  • Narasimha, Roddam (1961). Orifice Flow at High Knudsen Numbers. Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.
  • Narasimha, Roddam (1962). Collisionless Expansion of Gases Into Vacuum. Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory.
  • Narasimha, Roddam; Ojha, S. K. (1967). Effect of Longitudinal Surface Curvature on Boundary Layers.
  • Narasimha, Roddam; Srinivasan, J.; Biswas, S. K. (2003). The Dynamics of Technology: Creation and Diffusion of Skills and Knowledge. SAGE. ISBN 978-0-7619-9670-5.
  • Kalam, APJ Abdul; Narasimha, Roddam; Dhawan, Satish (1988). Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology: Asian Congress of Fluid Mechanics.


  1. ^ Narasimha, Roddam (1961). Some flow problems in rarefied gas dynamics (phd thesis). California Institute of Technology. Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  2. ^ "Caltech Thesis Library - Roddam Narasimha" (PDF). Caltech Library. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  3. ^ "Roddam Narasimha – The Mathematics Genealogy Project". 4 April 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Katepalli R. Sreenivasan". Mathematics Geneaology Project. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  5. ^ Desikan, Shubashree; Kulkarni, Tanu (16 December 2020). "An intellect with a passion for learning, discussing and teaching". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  6. ^ "Prof Roddam Narasimha, former Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (from 1984 to 1993) is no more. – CSIR – NAL". Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  7. ^ "Padma Awards". pib. 29 January 2013. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Aakaasha Raaya – Bhāvanā". Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  9. ^ "Roddam Narasimha: A keen scientific mind and scholar". The Week. Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  10. ^ "Caltech Aerospace (GALCIT)". Archived from the original on 14 November 2013. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Flow Problems in Rarefied Gas Dynamics" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sandhya Ramesh (15 December 2020). "Aerospace scientist Roddam Narasimha, 'an authority on fluid dynamics', dies at 87". ThePrint. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Above the Clouds – Bhāvanā". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  14. ^ "Prof Roddam Narasimha, former Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (from 1984 to 1993) is no more. - CSIR - NAL". Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Narasimha Roddam - Academic profile". Archived from the original on 13 May 2016. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  16. ^ Basu, A. J.; Sinha, U. N.; Narasimha, R. (1 June 1992). "Direct Numerical Simulation of Turbulence on the Flosolver MK3 Parallel Computer". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  17. ^ a b c Staff Writer (15 December 2020). "'Pained by his demise': PM Modi condoles death of Professor Roddam Narasimha". mint. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  18. ^ Rao, K. Narahari; Narasimha, R.; Narayanan, M. A. Badri (28 July 1971). "The 'bursting' phenomenon in a turbulent boundary layer". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 48 (2): 339–352. Bibcode:1971JFM....48..339R. doi:10.1017/s0022112071001605. ISSN 0022-1120.
  19. ^ Narasimha, R. (July 1968). "Non-Linear vibration of an elastic string". Journal of Sound and Vibration. 8 (1): 134–146. Bibcode:1968JSV.....8..134N. doi:10.1016/0022-460x(68)90200-9. ISSN 0022-460X.
  20. ^ Narasimha, R.; Prabhu, A. (11 July 1972). "Equilibrium and relaxation in turbulent wakes". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 54 (1): 1–17. Bibcode:1972JFM....54....1N. doi:10.1017/s0022112072000497. ISSN 0022-1120.
  21. ^ Narasimha, R.; Sreenivasan, K.R. (1979), "Relaminarization of Fluid Flows", Advances in Applied Mechanics, Elsevier, 19, pp. 221–309, Bibcode:1979aam....19..221N, doi:10.1016/s0065-2156(08)70311-9, ISBN 978-0-12-002019-5, retrieved 5 January 2021
  22. ^ Govindarajan, Rama; Narasimha, R. (8 December 1997). "A low-order theory for stability of non-parallel boundary layer flows". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 453 (1967): 2537–2549. Bibcode:1997RSPSA.453.2537G. doi:10.1098/rspa.1997.0135. S2CID 123579986.
  23. ^ Narayan, K Yegna; Narasimha, R (August 1973). "Parametric Analysis of Turbulent Wall Jets". Aeronautical Quarterly. 24 (3): 207–218. doi:10.1017/s0001925900006600. ISSN 0001-9259.
  24. ^ Bhat, G. S.; Narasimha, R. (25 October 1996). "A volumetrically heated jet: large-eddy structure and entrainment characteristics". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 325: 303–330. Bibcode:1996JFM...325..303B. doi:10.1017/s0022112096008130. ISSN 0022-1120.
  25. ^ BASU, A. J.; NARASIMHA, R. (25 April 1999). "Direct numerical simulation of turbulent flows with cloud-like off-source heating". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 385 (1): 199–228. Bibcode:1999JFM...385..199B. doi:10.1017/s0022112099004280. ISSN 0022-1120.
  26. ^ Narasimha, R.; Diwan, S. S.; Duvvuri, S.; Sreenivas, K. R.; Bhat, G. S. (14 September 2011). "Laboratory simulations show diabatic heating drives cumulus-cloud evolution and entrainment". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108 (39): 16164–16169. doi:10.1073/pnas.1112281108. ISSN 0027-8424. PMC 3182732. PMID 21918112.
  27. ^ Rao, Samrat; Vybhav, G. R.; Prasanth, P.; Deshpande, S. M.; Narasimha, R. (2020), "A DNS Study of Bulk Flow Characteristics of a Transient Diabatic Plume that Simulates Cloud Flow", Recent Advances in Theoretical, Applied, Computational and Experimental Mechanics, Singapore: Springer Singapore, pp. 387–396, doi:10.1007/978-981-15-1189-9_31, ISBN 978-981-15-1188-2, retrieved 5 January 2021
  28. ^ Ranjan, Rajesh; Deshpande, S.M.; Narasimha, Roddam (August 2017). "New insights from high-resolution compressible DNS studies on an LPT blade boundary layer". Computers & Fluids. 153: 49–60. doi:10.1016/j.compfluid.2017.05.004. ISSN 0045-7930.
  29. ^ Suryanarayanan, Saikishan; Narasimha, Roddam; Dass, N. D. Hari (14 January 2014). "Free turbulent shear layer in a point vortex gas as a problem in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics". Physical Review E. 89 (1): 013009. Bibcode:2014PhRvE..89a3009S. doi:10.1103/physreve.89.013009. ISSN 1539-3755. PMID 24580322.
  30. ^ [1], "Optimal wing planforms for reducing the induced or total drag of the wing of an aircraft driven by wing-mounted tractor propellers/rotors", issued 2010-07-05 
  31. ^ "Roddam Narasimha quits Space Commission". Associated Press. 24 February 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  32. ^ "Eminent Indian space scientist quits in protest". 24 February 2012. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  33. ^ "Caltech Aerospace (GALCIT) | Distinguished Alumni". 31 October 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Distinguished Alumni List". Indian Institute of Science. Archived from the original on 15 March 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
  35. ^ "2000 NAS New Member Elections". 2 May 2000. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  36. ^ a b c d e "INSA :: Indian Fellow Detail". Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  37. ^ "Nature - Prize Winners of the Year (2008)" (PDF). Nature. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  38. ^ "Honour for scientist Roddam Narasimha". The Associated Press. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
  39. ^ "Padma Vibhushan Awardee Aerospace Scientist Roddam Narasimha Dies At 87". Outlook India. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  40. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  41. ^ Dance, Amber (6 February 2020). "What the best mentors do". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-00351-7. S2CID 214423534.
  42. ^ "Roddam Narasimha (1933-2020): 'Almost perfect guru, steeped in Indian tradition'". The Indian Express. 16 December 2020. Retrieved 16 December 2020.
  43. ^ "Narasimha Roddam - Publications". 24 January 2012. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
  44. ^ "Padma Vibhushan awardee and eminent aerospace scientist Roddam Narasimha dies". Hindustan Times. 15 December 2020. Archived from the original on 15 December 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.

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