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R. Srinivasan came to the United States from India in 1953 for his graduate work in Chemistry. He got his Ph. D. under Sidney Benson, the well-known chemical kineticist. His thesis was on protein chemistry which served him well thirty years later in the work that has resulted in the Russ prize.
After several years of post-doctoral work at Caltech and at the University of Rochester, Srinivasan joined the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY in 1961. For the next thirty years he investigated the action of ultraviolet photons on organic molecules. His research extended from the photochemistry of small organic molecules such as 1,3 –butadiene to synthetic organic polymers which were used as photoresists in the manufacture of computer chips. In 1980, when pulsed, ultraviolet(UV) lasers became commercially available, he switched his studies to the action of nanosecond UV pulses on organic solids. He discovered the phenomenon of “Ablative Photodecomposition (APD)” in synthetic organic polymers in 1979 and extended it to biological tissue in 1981. APD is currently used in the packaging of electronic chips and in the manufacture of ink-jet printers.
Srinivasan and his co-worker, James Wynne, collaborated extensively with surgeons from 1983 to 1991 to find potential applications of APD in surgery. The one field where the invention has succeeded impressively is in the re-shaping of the human cornea in the eye to correct for problems in vision such as myopia (short-sight), hyperopia (long-sight) and astigmatism. This discovery has led to the award of the Russ Prize for 2013 to Srinivasan, Wynne and Samuel Blum.
Srinivasan retired from IBM in 1990. He is currently the President of UVTech Associates, a consulting company.