Institute of High Performance Computing


People: Vibrant & Dynamic Culture


Dr. Ramanarayan Hariharaputran
Material Science & Engineering (MSE)

Dr Ramanarayan Hariharaputran, or ‘Ram’ as he is affectionately known in IHPC, has a ready answer for you when you quiz him on what makes Singapore unique and why it has become his home-away-from-home. He replies without batting an eyelid that it’s a promised 3-dollar flight to India from a certain budget airline that keeps him here. A moment’s pause ensues and he breaks into a sheepish smile moments later; he is only having a laugh.“Scientific facilities in Singapore are of international standards and the research environment is excellent. In addition, Singapore being closer to India, tipped my choice… I also strongly feel the vibe of sincerity here in advancing science and technology, which is a rare commodity with many developed as well as developing nations. This would surely attract many good researchers to this place.”

Indeed, the Heterogeneous Coupled Systems team, which Ram is a member of, can be labelled a ‘United Nations’ of sorts, with members from Australia, Spain, United States of America and Brazil. Although it is a conglomerate of nationalities in a single group, Ram affirms this as a source of strength and inspiration, rather than as an avenue of tension. “I think the varied backgrounds of this group, with six factorial opinions on different things, make our group even more interesting. IHPC community as a whole is also a refreshing, welcoming bunch, and I hope I get to know more about everybody here…Since my specialisation is in computational materials science, IHPC was an obvious choice in Singapore. But in retrospect, I think I have made the right choice. I am part of a really nice group and my colleagues are very helpful.” Although there was no defining moment when Ram decided to be a researcher, he cites Richard Feynman and the ‘Lectures on Physics’ that drew him to the world of physics. “I always recommend the biography of Richard Feynman “Surely You"re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” and “What Do You Care What Other People Think? to youngsters who find science boring. I really feel sorry for these people as they are missing out in experiencing the joy of learning science… I would not trade this career, filled with opportunity to constantly learn and pursue the unknown for any other profession.”

For his PhD project, Ram researched into a complete work rendering a new perspective in understanding cellular phase transformation in unstable systems. This hasalso been his most successful work so far. “We could neatly tie up the work by coming up with a compact model predicting the numerical observations and rendering new outlook to the physics of the problem.”

For Ram, the mark of a good researcher is having the qualities of curiosity, perseverance and patience. Despite any form of success that one might enjoy, it is also important to have one’s feet planted firmly in the ground and remain humble. “Curiosity and thirst to learn and understand new things are necessary qualities which feed into creativity. Perseverance is the key to success in research and results in deeper understanding of issues. Patience is an important quality and rewards in research are never instantaneous. Success always comes in excruciating instalments.

A quality researcher should never have is hubris, and realizing that their expertise is in a very miniscule region in the vast sea of knowledge gives them a right perspective of the world. The best people in science had always been those who respected the views of others and also never hesitated in sharing their knowledge.”

Apart from scholarly pursuits, Ram counts playing badminton and watching comedy shows, especially those with a heavy dose of political satire as his means of recreation during his free time. Music is also a form of relaxation as he listens to all styles ranging from ‘Bach to the Black-Eyed Peas’.“I used to play billiards and snooker during graduate days. During my post doctoral time, I loved going for a long drive. I love going on treks and did a lot of trekking in India. I even managed to go for a long trek in the Himalayas once. After coming to Singapore, it is badminton. I am a television buff as well…Woody Allen and Art Buchwald were my past favourites. Currently, I love watching Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert and Steve Carrell. I like watching Jay Leno and Conan O’Brian once in a while and I never get tired of reruns of Seinfeld and West Wing… I am also a big fan of Tamil movies (especially Rajnikanth’s).” Few know this, but Ram ‘used’ to play the Indian musical instrument ‘Veena’ and is also something of a whiz at handicrafts. He can weave a wire basket, sculpt table top figurines and create some cool door and wall hangings.“I can also whip up a mean South Indian dinner (though my wife thinks otherwise!!)”

This page is last updated at: 17-DEC-2010