Professor Nimai Mohapatra passed away

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We are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Prof. Nimain Charan Mahapatra, professor of Physics in Berhampur University. He received his Masters Degree in Physics in Ravenshaw College (now Ravesnshaw University, Cuttack, Odisha), and Ph. D. degree in  State University of New York (SUNY), Albany. His thesis adviser was Late Prof. Tara Prasad Das. Many of us, all around the world, were his teachers, colleagues, students, friends, or relatives. We are indeed very saddened by this death. We share our thoughts with the bereaved family and friends.

(The following information was initiated and communicated to Odishagateway.org by Dr. Jagannath Ratha, Texas)

( Writer and colleague: Retired Professor of Physics – Gouri S. Tripathi, Berhampur University, Odisha, India. Berhampur University, Berhampur 760007, Odisha. He resides at GPN-11/Extn 21,  Gajapati Nagar, 11th Line Extension, Berhampur 760010, Odisha, India)

July 30, 2018

It is a great pleasure to write about Prof. Nimain Charan Mahapatra. I know him since 1976 when he joined as a Lecturer in Physics at Berhampur University, Berhampur in the state of Odisha of India. At that time I was working as a Research Fellow (equivalent to a Graduate student in USA) under the guidance of Professor Prasanta Kumar Misra, the then Professor and Head of Physics Department ( Now in Houston, USA). In order to introduce himself to the department, he gave a seminar talk on the Ferromagnetism of Nickel, a part of his Ph. D. topic under the mentorship of Prof. Tara Prasad Das at the State University of New York, Albany, USA. He impressed everybody by his depth of knowledge and impressive presentation.

He became a Reader in Physics (corresponding position in USA is Associate Professor) in 1977 and Professor in 1984. He worked in theoretical Solid State Physics, particularly on the calculation of hyperfine anti-shielding factor in metals. When he joined at Berhampur, the university did not have any computing facility. Even in the state of Odisha, there was only one IBM 1130 type computer in the Physics Department of Utkal University, Bhubaneswar. He applied for research grants which enabled him to use the IBM 370 computing facilities at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (now Chennai) in South India.

He used the vacation time for research and soon published a number of research papers in journals of repute like the Physical Review B, Journal of Physics A ( Atomic and Molecular Physics), C ( Solid State Physics) and F ( Metal Physics). He guided fresh students and college teachers on fellowships, under the quality improvement programme, for Ph. D. degree.

As a result of his outstanding contributions to research, he was offered a UGC (University Grants Commission) National Associateship for availing facilities in an institute of his choice in the country for research work. He was honored by the Odisha Bigyan (Science) Academy in 1996 with its flagship award, the Samanta Chandra Sekhar prize in Physical Sciences and Odisha Physical Society in 2015. In the same year, he was again honored by the Odisha Bigyan Academy by a Life-time achievement award.

He was on the national advisory committee of a number of seminars and symposia.

He was an excellent teacher. He had the uncanny ability of explaining complicated physical phenomena in simple and convincing terms. His pronunciations were very clear and emphatic. Students were looking forward to his classes for quality and clarity. He was one of the best teachers the university has ever had.

Apart from Physics, he was very thorough in the rule book of the university. He was the Chairman of Post Graduate Council (a kind of Academic Dean) and a member of the Syndicate. In these capacities his contribution to the process of academic and administrative reforms was very significant. On many occasions he showed financial prudence and prevented the authorities from going for wasteful expenditure.

Professor Mahapatra was a nice and kind human being, but firm in character. During his twenty seven years of service in the university he earned many admirers from the communities of teachers, students and general staff.

By the time of retirement in 2003 at the completion of sixty years, he had developed some health problems. He led an austere life thereafter. Mrs Mahapatra died in 2009 after considerably prolonged illness. Recently he was diagnosed for brain tuberculosis. He was treated in a corporate hospital at Bhubaneswar. Despite best efforts he succumbed to his illness on 27th July 2018. He was survived by his only son Ritesh, daughter-in-law and a grandson. In his sad demise, the Physics community of Odisha lost a towering personality, his friends a kind and generous soul and his students a brilliant teacher. He would be fondly remembered for his exemplary character.

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