In Remembrance of Dr Stanislaus F D’Souza

By Dr Sandra D'Souza
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July 30, 2020

Dr Sanislaus Francis D’Souza, an eminent scientist of international repute at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC Mumbai) and a loving family man, passed away on July 18, 2020, at Mangaluru after a long battle with Cancer.

Dr Stanislaus Francis D’Souza aka “Stan” to his loved ones and friends and “Dr S F D’Souza” in the scientific circles, was the youngest of a big family of eight, born to Cyprian and Teresa D’Souza at Kadri Kambla, Mangaluru. Of these, two brothers joined the Soc. of Jesus to become priests- late Dr (Fr) Valerian and Dr (Fr) Leo Dsouza and three sisters joined the Apostolic Carmel order - late Sr Dulcina, Sr Geralda and Sr Vincent. He lost his parents at an early age, while still studying (1964, 1968) and it was his elder brother Austin who had to take on the mantle of a parent. Stan had a lot of respect and appreciation for his brother Austin all through his life.


Dr Stanislaus Francis D’Souza

Stan completed his schooling and college at St Aloysius School & College in Mangaluru and graduated with a B.Sc. degree in Chemistry/ Physics. He then went on to do his MSc in Biochemistry at Mysore University and excelled as a gold medallist. Subsequently, he made it through an all India selection and joined BARC in 1972 as Scientific Officer after graduating from the 15th batch of Training School of Bioscience. He did his PhD in Biochemistry from Mumbai University and thereafter his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Texas Health Sc. Ctr. at Dallas (UTHSCD) under late Dr. Paul Srere. His Professor was very happy with the intelligent and hardworking Dsouza that he wanted him to continue to work in his laboratory, however, D'Souza decided to return to his country India and continue to work in BARC.

He retired in 2013, as outstanding scientist / head nuclear agriculture and biotechnology division, associate director of Biomedical group, BARC after two consecutive extensions (total 4 years) from the Prime Minister’s office.

Stan met his wife of close to 40 years in BARC, Dr Sandra Elizabeth D’Souza, a fellow scientist and they went on to have two children. Throughout his career he kept a very low profile at home and his kids never knew the magnitude of his work until the outpouring of love and messages came from his students and peers in the scientific community. He was always their “Daddy”.

Staying in a nuclear family in Mumbai, he brilliantly managed a demanding career and family life. He broke all stereotypes of what women were conformed to do and was an equal partner in his marriage. He encouraged his children to pursue all that their hearts desired and was always supportive of them. He had a passion for cooking and would always come out with mouth-watering recipes to the delight of his loved ones. He also loved travelling and saw to it that every summer the family took a vacation together.

He took time off on weekends/ vacation to spend time with the children and their spouses/ families. He was able to invest in some quality time at home in his last days. He was an inspiration to his children/grandchildren and was always available to guide them in their personal and professional aspirations. He was both a great father and mentor. The children were forever in awe of their parents who were both senior scientists in BARC, working on some of the most cutting edge work in their respective fields. They were able to balance both their work and homes in raising the kids with great values.

During his tenure as Head, NABT Division, he enriched many lives via his research. He coordinated various activities of the Division with respect to Food, Agriculture and Biotechnology. His work was not confined to the laboratory only. He travelled far and wide to remote villages, talking to farmers and understanding the ground reality and the challenges they faced. He was down to earth and could make anyone comfortable right from the start. His speeches moved from English to Hindi and Kannada, and though his diction in local languages may not have been the best, the enthusiasm and passion he put in his presentations kept all wrapped in his words. Under him several varieties of high yielding and disease resistant crops have been developed in oil seeds and pulses, and have been released and notified in the gazette by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for commercial cultivation in the country. Well known among these are over 25 varieties of groundnuts which have helped to improve the lives of groundnut farmers in Gujarat and Karnataka. He played a key role in popularizing the Trombay groundnut varieties in the country. He was instrumental in setting up NABTD agricultural field facilities at Gauribidanur and Vizag. Because of his interest and pursuance, NABTD has established an impressive network of Agricultural Universities as DAE partners in the different areas of Nuclear Agriculture internationally too.

For his outstanding contributions to the Nuclear Agriculture & Biotechnology Division, he was awarded the DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) Group Achievement Award for two consecutive years, viz. ‘Oilseeds and pulse improvement programme and Food Irradiation programme’ and ‘Advanced Knowledge & Rural Technology Implementation (AKRUTI) Team'. During Dr D’Souza’s tenure, NABTD also received the prestigious IAEA-plant mutation breeding Achievement Award.

He was elected “Fellow of the Association of Food Scientists and Technologists (FAFST) India for his contribution to the field of Food Biotechnology with special reference to Immobilized Enzyme and Microbial Technology. He was a “Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences’ (FNASc) and Fellow of the Maharashtra Academy of Sciences. He was recipient of the AMI- LOUIS PASTEUR AWARD for his significant contribution to the field of Microbiology. In Mangaluru, he was awarded the Eminent Aloysian award from his Alma-Mater, St Aloysius College and also received the Rachna Award 2013 as “Rachna Professional of the Year”.

Dr D’Souza had over 40 years of research experience in the field of plant biochemistry and enzyme and microbial biotechnology with special reference to immobilized enzymes and cells for use in bioprocessing, biosensors, bioremediation and nanotechnology as well as use of nuclear radiation for food preservation and plant breeding. He nurtured and directed some of the research groups viz. entomology and pest management, plant physiology and biosensors and these have blossomed into established research areas. He has to his credit over 200 scientific papers published in reputed International Journals, over another 200 papers in textbooks and Seminar proceedings and a few patents to his credits.

Apart from being a scientist he has been a great mentor to many students. He was Professor in Homi Bhabha National Institute and Adjunct Professor at the Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai. He guided over 25 PhDs and touched and enriched the lives of countless students and researchers in universities where he lectured. There was always a stream of students on the phone or at home seeking advice or guidance knowing they could count on his help. Dr D’Souza saw a spark in each of them and would encourage them, even though many a time they failed to see it in themselves. The countless messages he received on “Teachers Day” was a great testimony of the “Mentor” that he was.

After retirement he continued as a Raja Ramanna Fellow in DAE, chairman of RTAC agriculture committee, and till recently, Food Security committee. He was Founder Member, of Biosensor Society of India and served as Vice-President of BSI till 2019.

Over time his visits to Mangaluru were often short ones because of leave constraints. It was only this time that his stay was a long one (March to July) and that too in his own house, all because of the COVID crisis. Who was to anticipate that he would pass his last days here in Mangaluru and be buried here in Bijai Church with his family around?

His academic achievements have been summarized by the Chairman Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary Department of Atomic Energy, K N Vyas as following “Dr Dsouza had a very sharp mind and an uncompromising attitude for work. ………thanks to his efforts, BARC groundnut variety could be grown in Challakere region and it was very much successful. Dr D’Souza can be considered as one of the most prominent scientists of international repute of BARC in the recent past. We are proud of his achievements. Dr D’Souza was a mentor for many of the present generation scientists of BARC and his absence will be a great loss to all of them personally.”

 

 

Comment on this article

  • Anita Nair, Navi Mumbai

    Tue, Aug 4 2020

    Sandra Aunty, extremely saddened to hear about the demise of Stany Uncle. I only know him as Stany Uncle n have the fondest memories of him during my childhood. He was one of the persons I loved n respected a lot. Though in the last few years we have not been in touch but he has always been in our thoughts. Condolences to the family, n am sure he is in a happy place n in god's care. Take care.

    Agree [1]

  • Rajni Hatti Kaul, Sweden

    Sat, Aug 1 2020

    The Indian scientific community has lost an illustrious member by passing away of Stan who passed away at an early age of 71.
    I pride myself in being first of the many doctoral students he supervised over the years. He was the first scientist in India to start the research field in biotechnology dealing with development of immobilized microbial cells and enzymes for catalyzing reactions with wide-ranging potential for processes and analysis in various industrial sectors and for environmental remediation. That brought him international recognition.
    Stan was passionate about research. He came up with several novel ideas, some of which have been used by others including me in their projects. As the Division Head he familiarized himself with agriculture and its challenges. He travelled to the fields around the country to discuss with farmers about their needs and for testing the improved crop varieties – a number of which were developed under his leadership. He enjoyed this interaction.
    Stan was an inspiring figure both as a research supervisor and as a teacher. He enjoyed giving public lectures – he used to tell me proudly about the great response he got from the audience to his lectures given in Hindi, which was not his native tongue. He was extremely witty with a wonderful sense of humor. He was always curious to know what I was working on and was quick to make jokes about it.
    I am glad that we kept in contact with each other over the years. It was difficult not to like Stan! A charming, down-to-earth, humble and empathic human being!
    His poor health after retirement did not slow him down. He continued to travel around India and share his knowledge.
    Stan´s passing away is not only a loss for his family but also for those who knew him and for the work he was involved in. As for me, I have lost a very dear friend and mentor, and will truly miss him. I along with my family convey our deepest condolences to you Sandra, your children and family. May he rest in peace!

    Agree [6]

  • Max Crasta, Newyork

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    Hi Sandra,
    Appreciate your efforts in highlighting the life of a rare personality of eminence.RIP Dr.Stan. Though I have not met him, but I know his brother Dr. Fr Leo, an eminent scientist, who after completing his PhD from Germany taught us biotechnology,tissue culture in 1988-90 at St. Aloysius College,Mangalore. It was such a pleasure to visit Fr.Leo's research lab with so many PhD students working under him then. Both brothers are academically oriented but remained so simple and humble.The family is blessed with so many priests and nuns in God's vineyard.

    Agree [12]

  • francis lobo, Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    It is great to read about Dr. Stan and his achievements .His elder brother Fr. Dr.Leo Dsouza is also a pioneer scientist and is the first one to start a biotechnology lab which is at forefront of research at St. Aloysius College Mangalore. His elder brother Mr. Austin is a well-known philanthropist and the Bejai parish should be proud of them and the whole Dsouza family

    Agree [5]

  • Nita Pinto, Mangalore/Auckland

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    It was great to read the achievements of Dr Stanislaus D'Souza. I hope many of our youth will derive inspiration from him and aspire to walk in his footsteps.

    Although he is no more, his achievements and contribution to the society will live forever.

    Offering my heartfelt condolences to the family members.

    Nita Pinto

    Agree [2]

  • John B. Monteiro, Bondel Mangalore

    Fri, Jul 31 2020

    “Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear.
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen.”
    -Thomas Gray
    “ A prophet has no honour in his own country.” – John 4:77.
    These lines came to my mind on reading a concise and sober article by Dr Sandra D’Souza on the late Dr. Stanislaus F. D’Souza (Dr Stan). We should also thank daijiworld for giving its widely viewed platform to posthumously recognize and see our own gem of purest ray.
    It is nobody’s fault if Dr. Stan was self-effacing and shunned projection. Now the situation is redeemed by Dr Sandra with her comprehensive but touching and sober account of the achievement-filled life of Dr Stan.
    Bijai cemetery, and parish, should feel honoured to host the mortal remains of Dr. Stan.
    Incidentally, the cemetery is also host to another super-achiever of Bijai parish – George Fernandes – who was not averse to projection - or he didn’t have control over it?- which was grist to his public life and achievements.

    Agree [7]

  • Vinod Wilfred Tauro, Madanthyar, Dubai

    Thu, Jul 30 2020

    Dr. Stan, scientist with par excellence. Beautiful write up. Even though he has worked in US, still came back and work for India. Surely he will be an inspiration to our young generation. Great soul, and may his soul rest in peace.

    Agree [5]

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Thu, Jul 30 2020

    Thank you for the write-up.

    It is very rare to find Mangaloreans in scientific research. I feel great that Dr Stanislaus F D’Souza was not only such a person, but someone who was a thought leader in his field of work.

    Hopefully some young people will be inspired by Dr D’Souza's work and decide to follow in his footsteps.

    Agree [11]


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