Indian Jesuit ranks among world’s top 1 percent scientists

By Matters India Reporter

Palayamkottai: Jesuit Father Savarimuthu Ignacimuthu has been identified as one of the top 1 percent scientists in biology.

The director of St Xavier’s College in Tamil Nadu’s Palayamkottai town earned the honor after scientists in the United States evaluated the Jesuit’s research publications.

A recent article by three professors of the Stanford University in the United States has analyzed the contributions of more than 100,000 scientists from all over the world in biology.

The article, titled ‘Updated Science-wide Author Databases of Standardized Citation Indicators,’ was authored by professors John P.A. Ioannidis, Kevin W. Boyack, and Jeroen Baas. It was published October 16 in the “Plos Biology,” a reputed journal.

The US professors used assessment parameters such as total number of papers published in journals indexed by Scopus, an abstract and citation database launched in 2004, total number of citations, h-index and hm-index.

The h-index is used to measure the impact of a scientist’s publications in terms of the citations received. It is defined as the highest number of papers of a researcher that have been cited h or more times.

The US professors have used sophisticated algorithms to simplify their findings and presented the data with clarity and depth. The authors have analyzed 113,961 scientists from all over the world and ranked Father Ignacimuthu 872.

The professors analyzed the Jesuit’s contributions during 1985-2019. He has been ranked below 1,000 for the past 20 years. His name is found under high achievers’ category in all the parameters used for the assessment. He is ranked 10th among Indian scientists.

The 71 year-old Jesuit scientist has published more than 800 research papers and 80 books; he has 12 Indian patents and two US patents. He has helped more than 100 students to get their doctoral degree.

One insect species is named after him: jacthrips ignacimuthui. One natural molecule is named after him: Ignaciomycin. He was instrumental in developing Xavier herbal hand sanitizer to protect against pathogens including Covid-19.

Father Ignacimuthu had earlier served as the vice chancellor of two universities in Tamil Nadu — Coimbatore-based Bharatiyar University and Chennai-based University of Madras.

He had earlier developed a natural herbal biopesticide Ponneem to control insect pests. He worked at Entomology Research Institute, Loyola College, Chennai, during 1993-2018. Since June 2018 he has been working at Xavier Research Foundation, St Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai.

The Jesuit scientist attributes all achievements to scientists and students who have worked with him in what he says is the “labor of love with God’s grace.”

Father Ignacimuthu says God has blessed him “abundantly” and he owes everything to the Society of Jesus, his congregation. “She has nurtured and helped me in all ways,” he told Matters India November 28.

He also recalled with gratitude his teachers, “who formed me from my very young age with intellectual curiosity. They have played a very big role, especially the professors during my university days.”

He further thanked his research staff and students “who have toiled with me for the last 35 years with dedication and hard work.”