Dr. S.Y. Padmanabhan (Suchindrum Yegyanarayona Padmanabhan) was born at Trivandrum, Kerala on 11thSeptember, 1916 and took his M.A. degree in Botany from Presidency College, Madras in 1937. Later he was awarded Associateship of IARI in Plant Pathology in 1939. He was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Botany of Utkal University in 1967 for his thesis on diseases of rice.
He began his research carrier, after completing post-graduation studies as a Research Staff Member of Bihar State in 1940 and remained in the state service till 1943. During this short period he made significant contributions on the red rot disease of sugarcane and also investigated the possibility of biological control of Epipyrops spp. by Fusarium spp. Later he joined the Government of Madras as Sugarcane Mycologist and remained there till 1947. His services were taken over by Central Rice Research Institute, as first Mycologist. He served the Institute in that capacity till 1966 when he was selected as the Director of the Institute, a position he held till his retirement in 1976. Dr. Padmanabhan was recognised as a pioneer investigator in the study of rice diseases in India and his main field of specialization has been the study of blast and blight diseases of rice. He standardized the procedure for scoring the blast disease, studied the inheritance of resistance in rice to Pyricularia oryzae in great detail and also estimated the losses caused by this diaease. He analysed the epiphytotic of Helminthosporiose of rice in Bengal and brought out the role of this disease in Bengal Famine of 1942.
Dr. Padmanabhan was the Principal Investigator for two PL-480 schemes of USDA (1) blast disease of rice and (2) genetics of inheritance of resistance of rice diseases, which is a recognition of erudition.
Nine students were awarded Ph.D. degree under his chairmanship. He published about 100 scientific papers in Indian and foreign journals. In recognition of his contributions he was honoured with Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Memorial Prize in 1971. Dr. Padmanabhan also served as a member of various committees of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and was a regular member of the Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board for selecting the candidates in the discipline of Plant Pathology. He represented India in a number of International Conferences. Indian Phytopathological Society honoured him by electing him the President for the year 1973.
Dr. S.Y. Padmanabhan expired on 29th January, 1985 at “Swagatham” in Madras.