Govindjee, who uses only one name, was born on October 24, 1932, at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) India; he was married to Rajni Varma on October 24, 1957, at Urbana, Illinois, USA; they have two children: Anita and Sanjay; he was naturalized to be a citizen of the USA in 1972.

Rajni, Anita and Sanjay use "Govindjee" as their last names. His departmental friends call him "Gov". In 2018, Govindjee decided to officially change his name to "Govindjee Govindjee", and, thus, he travels by that name now. However, he continued to publish under one name until November of 2019.

On Rajni Govindjee: "Brighter than the Sun" by Thomas G. Ebrey

A Poem on Photosynthesis and Govindjee

88th birthday greetings to Govindjee by Meena Barupal


Department of Plant Biology, Department of Biochemistry, and Center of Biophysics & Quantitative Biology; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Academic Degrees* and Positions Held:

  • 1948: *First Class High School Certificate, Colonolganj High School, Allahabad, India
  • 1950: *First Class Intermediate Certificate, Distinction in Physics, Kayastha Pathshala Inter. College, Allahabad, India
  • 1952: *First Class B.Sc. Degree (Chemistry; Botany; and Zoology), University of Allahabad, Allahabad, India
  • 1954: *First Class M.Sc. Degree (Botany; specialization: Plant Physiology), First Position, University of Allahabad
  • 1954-1956: Lecturer in Botany, University of Allahabad
  • 1956-1959: Graduate Fellow in Physico-Chemical Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA
  • 1959-1960: Research Assistant in Botany, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1960: *Ph.D. Degree (Biophysics; specialization: Photosynthesis), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Advisors: Professors Robert Emerson; Eugene I. Rabinowitch; and Jan B. Thomas)
  • 1960-1961: United States Public Health (USPH) Service Biophysics Post doctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1961-1965: Assistant Professor of Botany, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1962: Visiting Scientist, Research Institute of Advanced Studies, Martin-Marietta Labs., Baltimore, Maryland (Director: Bessel Kok)
  • 1963, 1979: Visiting Scientist, Department of Plant Biology, Carnegie Institution, Stanford, California (Director: C. Stacey French)
  • 1965-1969: Associate Professor of Botany and Biophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1969-1999: Professor of Biophysics and Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • 1973-1974: Associate Head of Botany, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • 1974-1975: Acting Head of Botany, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    • 1977-1978: Chairman of Biophysics Division, Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1999-Present: Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Plant Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 2000 Spring: Visiting Professor of Biology, Washington University, St. Louis, Mo.
  • 2002 Summer: Visiting Professor, Institute of Physical Biology, University of S. Bohemia, Nové Hrady, Czech Republic
  • 2009, 2011:Short-term Visiting Research Scientist, Department of Phototrophic Microorganisms, Institute of Microbiology, Opatovicky Mlyn, Třeboň, The Czech Republic
  • 2003-2008, 2012:Short-term Visiting Professor of Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India
  • 2014: Short-term Visiting Professor of Botany, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, Odisha, India
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019: Short-term Visiting Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

Scholarships/Fellowships/Awards/Invitations: (A Partial List)

  • 1952-1953: Sri Vilas Scholarship for receiving the highest grade in Botany during B.Sc. examination, University of Allahabad, Allahabad
  • 1954: First on the Merit list, Department of Botany, University of Allahabad
  • 1956-1959: Graduate Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL
  • 1956-1960: Fulbright Scholar from India to USA
  • 1983: Plenary speaker at the 6th International Photosynthesis Congress at Brussels, Belgium
  • 1992: Invited "Personal Essay" in "Plant Physiology" text by F.B. Salisbury and C.W. Ross, Wadsworth Pub. Co., pp. 222- 224.
  • 1995: "Notable 20th century scientists", E.J. McMurray, editor, Gale Research, Inc..
  • 1996-1997: Fulbright Senior Lecturer Award to India (University of Indore, Indore); also invited to Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as a Dr. Nuggihalli Narayana Memorial Lecturer
  • 1996-1997: Japanese Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellow
  • 2003-2004: Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Research Award
  • 2010: Listed among the Eminent Indian Botanists, Past and Present
  • 2012: Fulbright specialist to India
  • 2014, 2017: Govindjee was recognized for his teaching of Z-Scheme of photosynthesis, both outdoors and indoors; see: Mohapatra and Singh, Photosynthesis Research 123: 105-114 (2014); and Jaiswal, Bansal, Roy, Bharati and Padhi, Photosynthesis Research 131, 351-359 (2017).

Honors/Awards: (also see Honors and Awards page)

  • 1976: Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, U.S.A.)
  • 1978: Distinguished Lecturer Award of the School of Life Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 1979: Fellow and Life Member National Academy of Science (India)
  • 1981-1982: President, American Society for Photobiology
  • 2000, 2002: Honored for his "Lifetime Contributions in the Field of Photosynthesis", by the Indian Society of Photobiology, the Society for Plant Physiology and Biochemistry, and the Indian Society of Plant Physiology, with a Symposium on "Light and Life", on December 2, 2002, at the School of Life Sciences (SLS), Jawahar Lal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi, India
  • 2004: Honorary President, International Photosynthesis Congress, Montreal, Canada
  • 2006: The first Lifetime Achievement Award in Basic Biology, Rebeiz Foundation
  • 2007: The Communication Award of the International Society of Photosynthesis Research (ISPR)
  • 2007: Honored for his 50 years of research, at his 75th birthday, by a two-part special issues of Photosynthesis Research (vol. 93:1-6; vol. 94: 153-178) (guest editor: Julian Eaton-Rye)
  • 2008: LAS (Liberal Arts & Sciences) Lifetime Achievement Award of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
  • 2008: Honored by an International Congress on "Photosynthesis in the Global Perspective", University of Indore, Indore, MP, India; see A. Jajoo et al. (2008) Photosynthesis Research 100: 49-55; this was followed by a book, dedicated to Govindjee: S. Itoh (et al.) (2015) Photosynthesis: Basics and Applications. IK Publishers, New Delhi, India
  • 2011: An Interview with Govindjee "Dr. Donald Ort in conversation with Dr. Govindjee" on YouTube for Annual Reviews, Inc. (Annual Reviews of Plant Biology, American Society for Plant Biology)
  • 2012: Volume 34 (Photosynthesis:Plastid Biology, Energy Conversion and Carbon Assimilation) of the "Advances of Photosynthesis..." (Springer), edited by Julian Eaton-Rye, Baishnab Tripathy and Tom Sharkey, was dedicated to Govindjee. The Dedication reads:
      "Govindjee's passion for photosynthesis has been inspirational for students and researchers for over 50 years. At the start of his 80th year, this volume of the Advances of Photosynthesis and Respiration series is dedicated to Govindjee to especially acknowledge not only his unique discoveries in Photosystem II, but also his commitment to educating students and researchers throughout the World." In the same vein, the Dedication added" His unparalleled commitment and knowledge have made him a true advocate, and ambassador, of photosynthetic research and education around the World."
  • 2013: Volumes 116 and 117 of Photosynthesis Research were dedicated to Govindjee’s 80th birthday, by Suleyman Allakhverdiev (of Russia), Jian-Ren Shen (of Japan) and Gerald (Gerry) Edward (of USA); Julian Eaton_Rye wrote a special article (Photosynthesis Research 116: 111-144); this was followed by an article by Ondre Prasil (Photosynthesis Research 122: 113-117.
  • 2016: Honored with a highly prestigious award of the Society of Plant Research of India (The Professor B.M. Johri Memorial Award for outstanding plant scientists) on February 2, 2016, at Delhi University, Delhi, India
  • 2018: Honored internationally for his Life-time achievement and dedication to 'Photosynthesis' at his 85th birthday by Photosynthetica (guest editor: Julian Eaton-Rye; volume 56 (issue 1), Pp. 1-477), and by Photosynthesis Research (guest editors: Suleyman Allakhverdiev, Tatsuya Tomo and Rajagopal Subramaniam; see: DOI: 10.1007/s11120-018-0596-7 and DOI: 10.1007/s11120-018-0592-y
  • 2018: Honored , in Udaipur, India, at his 85th birthday, at a national symposium for his Contributions to Research and Education on Photosynthesis. See: From Around the World: Historical page

Membership on the Following International and National Boards, Editorial Boards, and Committees:

  • Former Member, Executive Committee of the International Society for Photosynthesis Research (ISPR); and of the "Publication Committee" of ISPR.
  • Former Member, Standing Advisory Committee (Overseas) (SAC(O)) of the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, New Delhi, India.
  • Served on USDA-India Program on Photosynthesis as a Cooperating Scientist
  • Served on several Editorial Boards: Comments on Molecular and Cellular Biophysics (U.S.A.) ; National Academy of Science Letters (India) ; Plant Biochemical and Physiological Journal (India); Photosynthesis Research, The Netherlands (served as Associate Editor; Editor-in Chief; now a Member of the Editorial Board).
  • Founding Historical Corner Editor of Photosynthesis Research
  • Founding Series Editor of Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration, Including Bioenergy and Related Processes, Kluwer Academic Press (now Springer), Dordrecht, The Netherlands, since 1994
  • Served as one of the two Series Editors of Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration Including Bioenergy and Related Processes, Springer, The Netherlands: stepped down since January 1, 2019, after the 43rd volume (see: Springer page)

Professional Membership:

  • Sigma Xi
  • American Society of Plant Biology
  • Biophysical Society of America
  • American Society for Photobiology
  • International Society for Photosynthesis Research

Special Editorial Work:

  • Special issue of 'Biophysical Journal', honoring Eugene Rabinowitch (1972) (guest editor)
  • Bioenergetics of Photosynthesis, a monograph for Cell Biology series, Academic Press, N.Y. (1975) (editor)
  • Special issue of 'Photochemistry and Photobiology' (1978) (guest editor)
  • A 2-volume series on "Photosynthesis", a monograph for Cell Biology Series, Academic Press, N.Y. (1982) (editor) (translated into Russian in 1987, Mir Publishers, Moscow)
  • Light Emission by Plants and Bacteria, a monograph for Cell Biology Series, Academic Press, Orlando, FL (1986) (co-editor with Jan Amesz and D.C. Fork)
  • Excitation Energy and Electron Transfer in Photosynthesis, Martinus Nijhoff (then, Kluwer Academic Publishers, now Springer), The Netherlands (1987) (chief editor)
  • Molecular Biology of Photosynthesis, Kluwer Academic Publishers, the Netherlands (1989) (chief editor)
  • How Plants and Cyanobacteria Make Oxygen: 25 Years of Period Four Oscillations (1993), special issue of 'Photosynthesis Research', dedicated to Bessel Kok and Pierre Joliot (1993) (co-editor with G. Renger)
  • Photosynthetic Unit: Antenna and Reaction Center (1996), special issue of 'Photosynthesis Research', dedicated to William Arnold (coeditor with J. Amesz and R. Knox)
  • Co-editor (with H. Gest, J.T. Beatty, and J.F. Allen): "Celebrating the Millennium: Historical Highlights of Photosynthesis Research", Photosynthesis Research, volume 73 (2002); volume 76 (2003) and volume 80 (2004)
  • Co-editor (with George Papageorgiou): "Chlorophyll a Fluorescence" in the "Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration" Series, Volume 19 (2004)
  • Coeditor (with J.T. Beatty, H. Gest and J.F. Allen) "Discoveries in Photosynthesis" in the "Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration" Series, Volume 20 (2006), Springer, Dordrecht
  • Coeditor (with Agu Laisk and Lada Nedbal) "Photosynthesis in Silico: Understanding Complexity from Molecules to Ecosystems" in the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration Series, Volume 29 (2009), Springer, Dordrecht
  • Coeditor (with Ashwani Pareek, Sudhir K. Sopory and Hans Bohnert) "Abiotic Stress Adaptation in Plants: Physiological, Molecular and Genomic Foundation", Springer, Dordrecht, (2010)
  • Coeditor (with Barbara Demmig-Adams, William Adams III and G. Garab) "Non Photochemical Quenching and Energy Dissipation in Plants, Algae and Cyanobacteria." in the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration Series, Volume 40 (2014), Springer, Dordrecht

Teaching, Students and Lab Associates:

  • Govindjee has taught at both the undergraduate and the graduate levels from a class of 700 students to as few as 6. Topics of lectures included: biophysics; photobiology; plant physiology; plant ecology and organismic biology; photosynthesis; and bioenergetics of photosynthesis. He was ranked as an outstanding/excellent teacher by both his undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Govindjee has also delivered many public lectures on the basics of photosynthesis, and on the history of photosynthesis.
  • Planned: Govindjee remains interested in teaching "Photosynthesis Through the Internet" to all ages from 10 to 110. This is a long-term, perhaps unattainable, and unrealistic, project. He welcomes suggestions from the readers of this web page.
  • Planned: Govindjee is further interested in (1) revising his book "Photosynthesis" (John Wiley, 1969: Link) and making the revised version available free on the Internet, as is the 1969 version; and (2) doing research in the area of "History of Oxygenic Photosynthesis Research, and the Actors Involved". Again, he welcomes suggestions from the readers of this web page.
  • Postdoctorals:
    • Drs. Patrick Breen, Jean-Marie Briantais*, Christa Critchley, Mrinmoyee Das, Ashish Ghosh*, Adam Gilmore, Ashok Kumar, G. Sarojini, Manfredo Seufferheld and J.J.S. vanRensen.
  • Visiting Professors:
    • Drs. Elizabeth Gross*, Shmuel Malkin*, Barbara Prezlin*, Beazy Sweeney* and Karel Vacek.
  • Visiting Scientists:
    • Drs. Ian Baianu*, Fatima El-Shintinawy, Ralph Gasanov, T. Kambara, Ismael Moya and Teruo Ogawa; and Mr. Jobie Spencer*.
  • Graduate Students: (see the complete list)
    • For details, click on "Past Graduate Students" on the home page. Pictures of those who attended my retirement party on October 14, 1999, can be seen by clicking here. The first graduate student who worked with him was Carl N. Cederstrand (co-advisor: Eugene Rabinowitch).

      Alphabetically, other graduate students are: Maarib D.L. Bakri (Bazzaz); Glenn Bedell; Danny Blubaugh; Jiancheng Cao; Y-C Chen (worked with Robert Clegg); Fred Cho*; Ray Chollet (worked with Bill Ogren); Roger Chylla (worked with John Whitmarsh); William (Bill) Coleman; Julian Eaton-Rye; James(Jim) Fenton; Oliver Holub (worked with Robert Clegg); Paul Jursinic; Rita Khanna (Bhattacharya); Anne Krey; Ted Mar; Prasanna Mohanty*; John Munday; George Papageorgiou*; Ralph Schooley; Hyunsuk Shim (co-advisor: Peter Debrunner); Sean Padden (worked with Antony Crofts); Paul Spilotro; Alan Stemler; David VanderMeulen; Williem (Wim) Vermaas (completed PhD with Jack van Rensen); Daniel Wong; Thomas (Tom) Wydrzynski*; Jin Xiong; Chun-He Xu; Louisa Yang (Ni); Yan Zhou (worked with Lance Schideman) and Barbara Zilinskas.

      [* = deceased]