Dr. B. B. Mundkur (Balchandra Bhavanishankar Mundkur) was born on June 26, 1896, in Mundkur, a village near Mangalore of the Madras State. After passing the high school examination in 1915, he had his early collegiate education at the St. Aloysius College, Mangalore. Later he studied in the Presidency College, Madras, from where he took B.A. (Hons.) in Botany with a first class and won a ‘Gold Medal’. After his brilliant academic career, he was for a short time an Agricultural Officer in Bengal, but from 1922 onward his professional career was solely devoted to Mycology and Plant Pathology. From 1922 to 1928 he worked as Assistant Mycologist in the Cotton Research Scheme at Dharwar (Bombay State) and made a valuable scientific contribution on ‘wilt disease’ of cotton. This work laid a firm foundation for his future career.
Dr. Mundkur went to U.S.A. in 1929 for post-graduate studies at the Iowa State College of Agriculture and was awarded the Ph. D. degree in 1931 in Plant Pathology. Soon after his return he was appointed as Asstt. Mycologist in the Division of Mycology, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Pusa, Bihar. He was associated with the Institution, both in Bihar and later at Delhi till 1947. During his tenure of the post, Dr. Mundkur was a popular figure with post-graduate students and members of the staff. In the earlier part of his career, he took a very keen interest in the ‘Ustilaginales’ of India. He also prepared a supplement to ‘Fungi of India’ by Butler and Bisby. The numerous post-graduate students, who worked under him, found him a wise guide and friendly councillor. He demanded from them the highest standard of scholarship, technical ability and assiduity. The capacity which Dr. Mundkur possessed to enthuse his students remains unrivalled.
In recognition of the meritorious service, in 1947 he was selected as the first Deputy Director of Plant Diseases in the newly established Directorate of Plant Protection, Quarantine and Storage of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. He actively helped in the development of Plant Protection Services in the various States of India and in the development of Plant Quarantine work.
After his retirement Dr. Mundkur was appointed Professor of Botany and was the first incumbent of this newly created post at Poona University. Dr. Mundkur published about 80 papers covering a wide field. His last work ‘Genera of Rusts’ in joint authorship with Dr. Thirumalachar has been well received by Mycological workers. He was one of the chief sponsors of the Indian Phytopathological Society and its organ ‘Indian Phytopathology’. But for his inspiring lead the Society could not have come into existence in such a short time. He was twice President of the Society, the Editor-in-chief of its journal and Secretary-Treasurer. He was also connected with many other scientific societies in India and abroad.
Dr. Mundkur was a Fellow of the National Institute of Sciences of India, member of the American Phytopathological society and the Society of the Sigma XI. He acted as a member of Agricultural Mission sent by the Government of India to Afghanistan in 1939.
Professor Mundkur died at Poona on 13th December 1952.