A graduate student once came across the story of the legendary scientist Madame Curie, who in spite of facing all hurdles like poverty, gender discrimination, professional jealousy, was able to discover the new elements Polonium and Radium, thereby opening a new vista of Radioactivity. Her strong determination and dedication eventually led her to win two Nobel prizes and her passion, led her to the pinnacle of science. This story of Madame Curie has inspired lakhs of young people to realize their social responsibility and commit themselves for the development of the society. The legacy of Curie was just sufficient to ignite a ‘light of science’ in a young boy from Bellary. This teen ager, then strongly determined to do something memorable in the name of the great scientist Madame Marie Curie. Soon, his visionary dream turned into reality by establishing the “Madame Curie Science Academy” in the year 2000, when he was just 20 years old. That young man was none other than S.Manjunatha, today who is well known as a man of Science in Karnataka.
On 28th of April 1980, Manjunatha was born to Sri S. Gavisiddappa & Smt. S. Shivaleela who belongs to a lower middle class family, which is culturally rich. He was sent to a Jyothi Nursery a Pre Primary School, where he got a strong foundation from his teacher V.Rani. He then completed his primary at BMD School, Bellary, which was a just few yards away from his home, where he was influenced by his teachers, E. Usha Rani, K.Sujatha, P. Sitara & P. Jahira. He was also taught by his private tutors Miss T.Jyothi Rani, who taught Mathematics & Miss T.Mamatha Kumari, who taught Kannada. He completed his higher secondary at Setra Gurushanthappa School and stood first in the SSLC Examination in 1996. He also won an endowment prize for securing the highest marks in Kannada language. Young Manju started winning prizes in competitions such as Essay writing, Elocution, One act plays, Embroidery and in many more events. In his high school days, he was greatly motivated by his teachers M. Indira, H.M. Shivagangamma, K.S. Vasantha, K.M. Siddalingaiah & J. Rudrappa. Followed by his pre-university course at Wardlaw College, he joined B.Sc. at Veerasaiva College, Bellary affiliated to Gulbarga University. Here, he was totally inspired by his dedicated teachers, Dr. C.Nagabhushan, Prof. A.Shirly Jones, and Prof. S.M.Sudharani. During this time, three he continuously for the three consecutive years, bagged prizes in Smt. Usha M Jali Memorial, District Level Science Lecture Contest. He has also won Silver & Bronze Medals in the Elocution competition organized at the Youth Festival in Gulbarga University. Later, he joined the Gulbarga University, at Gulbarga for his postgraduate studies, where he passed his M.Sc. in Physics in first class with distinction.
Under the banner of “Madame Curie Science Academy”, he has delivered more than 400 science lectures throughout Karnataka. Through his academy, he showed a greater commitment towards the spreading of scientific temperament among the students, youth, women and the rural community. Mr.Manjunatha is outright in condemning Astrology, Palmistry, Vaastu, Black Magic and all other sorts of superstitions. At the time of solar eclipses, he arranges mass lunch programmes, just to eradicate the blind belief that, one should not have any food or water during the time of eclipses. He is always endeavouring to popularize science by organizing science lectures at various schools & colleges in Bellary and surrounding places. Another interesting thing is that the academy as a token of respect, he celebrates the birth anniversaries of great scientists every year, which is first of its kind in Bellary.
As an amateur astronomer, Manjunath underwent various training programmes at Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, Bangalore. He has learnt astronomy, from the great astronomers of Karnataka, Dr.B.S.Shylaja and Prof.H.R.Ramakrishna Rao. His curiosity in celestial bodies during his teen age eventually turned out to become a life time passion for astronomy. ‘Transit of Venus’, one of the rarest celestial phenomena occurred on June 8th 2004, to celebrate this rare astronomical phenomenon; he distributed one thousand solar filters on behalf of his Academy to the residents of Bellary. He also arranged a mass programme to watch this historical event and was successful in creating awareness among the common people. Manjunath’s love towards astronomy is unique and this is evident from his poems written on the sun, the moon, stars, planets, comets and the meteors. He published this collection of poems “Chukki Chandrama” (Kannada Version) in 2006. Today, this work has seen several reprints and is appreciated by the great poets of our state as a rare literary work. Prof. Vasantha Kushtagi a great poet of northern Karnataka not only appreciated these poems but also called Manjunath a “Poet-Scientist”. Another great poet, Nadoja Dr.Channaveera Kanavi made valuable remarks and appreciated “Chukki Chandrama” as a very useful and popular book.
Since his boyhood, Manjunath hated all kinds of blind beliefs and superstitions. Disgusted with this pseudo-psychology, he wrote poems to address this issue and also tried to condemn it, in every possible way. “Vaicharika Kavanagalu” (Kannada Version) his second collection of poems was published in 2009 by Navakarnataka Publications, Bangalore. It has seen several reprints and is well received by its readers. Even this book got good response and appreciation from the senior and great rationalists like, Sri. Ko. Channabasappa, Prof. B.V. Veerabhadrappa and Dr. S. Balachandra Rao. As a poet, Manjunath has recited his poems in many poets meet including Ballari Zilla Kannada Sahitya Sammelana. He has also presented a paper titled “Vijnana matthu Kannada” in 77th Akhila Bharatha Kannada Sahitya Sammelana held in Bangalore. He has attended many poets' meet (Kavi Goshti) including the prestigious fest of southern India i.e. Hampi Utsava, Bellary Zilla Sahithya Sammelana and many more.
While doing his M.Sc., Manjunath was selected to the National Level Summer Research Fellowship programme from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore, a premier research institute of our country. Based on his research results, he was able to publish his work on “SERS- active femtoliter silver cups”, in an international journal “Nanotechnology” of IOP publishing.
Mr.Manjunath, started his career as a lecturer in physics at S.G. College, Bellary, where, he improved the quality of students in physics, majority of them from the rural background. This automatically resulted in increase in the percentage of passing in physics. In the mean time, he was selected for an international PG Diploma course in Materials Science from the International Centre for Materials Science (ICMS) of JNCASR. He got a PG-Diploma fellowship of Rs 8000 per month for a period of one year from ICMS. He was fortunate to get an opportunity to work directly under the guidance of the world renowned scientist Bharata Ratna Prof.C.N.R.Rao. During this time he published his research works in the reputed international journals. After the submission of his project report “Studies on nanostructures of ZnO & GaN”, he was awarded the PG-Diploma. Thus he became the first Indian Student to get PG-Diploma in Materials Science from ICMS. Along with him, two other young scientists from Nigeria & Ghana too were awarded the PG Diploma in Materials Science from ICMS, JNCASR.
Along with Smt. Indumati C.N.R. Rao, Manjunath coined 75 new words in Kannada related to nanotechnology, for the Science & Technology Dictionary of Navakarnataka Publications known as “Vijnana Tantrajnana Padasampada”. In order to popularize science, he regularly contributes science articles to leading Karnataka newspapers. On the occasion of the National Science Day, Dooradarshana Chandana telecasted live interview of Manjunath in its ‘Belagu’ Programme on Feb 28th 2011. He has also given talks on Radio Station of Hospet several science issues. In collaboration with Karnataka Rajya Vijnana Parishath, he has interacted with the students of Kodagu, Uttara Kannada, Chitra Durga, Davanagere, Yadagiri districts, in the student-scientist interaction programme of ‘Vision Group on Science & Technology’ of Govt. of Karnataka. This programme is a brain child of the visionary scientist of Karnataka Ratna Prof. C.N.R. Rao.
Apart from being the President of the Madame Curie Science Academy, since its inception, he has extended his services to various organizations in promoting science and scientific outlook, his rational ideas and social service as listed below:
He served/serving as
- Dist. Joint-Convener of the Bellary Dist. Committee for the “Year of Scientific Awareness-2004”.
- Life member, Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT).
- Life member, Kannada Sahithya Parishath.
- Founder Vice-President, Harihara-Raghavanka Kannada Sangha, Bellary.
- The Honarary Editor, nammabellary.com, website.
- Vice-President, Karnataka Rajya Vijnana Parishath, Bellary district committee.
- Convenor, Reddy Beedhi Nagarikara Vedike, Reddy Street, Bellary.
- Honorary Member, Management Committee, Shanthi Vidya Kendra, Talur Road, Bellary.
In appreciation of his services, he has been conferred with several awards.
- “Dr. H. Narasimhaiah Best Teacher Award”, from Subhash Bharani Saamskrithika Vedike, in 2008,
- “Bellary District Best Youth Award” from Ballari Zilla Yuvajana Seva matthu Kreeda Elaakhe, in 2008,
- Summer Research Fellowship-2007 of JNCASR, Bangalore.
- Post-Graduate Diploma Fellowship (2009-10) of International Centre for Materials Science, JNCASR, Bangalore.
- “Dr. Raj Award-2012” from Karnataka Rakshana Vedike (Praveen Shetty Group) of Kampli Unit, Bellary.
- "Basava siri Prashasth-2013" from Teachers' Forum of Bellary district.
- Bronze and Silver medals from Gulbarga University, Gulbarga.
At present he is working as an Asst. Prof of Physics in a private engineering college of Bellary.