Alumni Spotlight: Hanumantha Mantrala

Photo Credit: Hanumantha Mantrala
Mon, 03/25/2024 - 12:05

Major: Master's degree in physics

Graduated: 1988

Who is your employer, and where are they located?
Returned back to India in 1989. Did Ph.D from IIT, Kharagpur in 1994. Worked as Scientist at Centre for Materials for Electronics Technology, Pune, India and at UR Rao Satellite Centre, ISRO as a space scientist 1999 to 2021 Presently Research Professor in Physics at Dayananda Sagar University, Bangalore, India

What is your job title and what kind of work does it involve?
At ISRO I worked at different levels in the Applied Optics Group which fabricates optical components for space imaging systems. My specialization was design and realization optical coatings on the components for improved system performance. Presently teaching undergraduate physics classes and working on a ISRO funded project to design and develop an optical system for atmospheric studies.

What sparked your interest in your major(s) or area(s) of study?
I was inspired by my uncle, Dr. MLN Sastry who did Ph.D (spectroscopy) from Brown and returned back to india to become a top Defense Scientist. He was instrumental in coaxing me to apply for graduate studies in USA. The short project work experience at the excellent thin film research lab of Prof. KL Chopra at IIT, Delhi with highly motivated scholars has motivated me to take up thin film materials science as my core area of study. Working with Prof. Kirby I had initiated to setup a Kerr rotation measurement experiment which was a challenging task at that time.

What do you see as the value of your major(s) or CAS degree?
I treasure the M.S degree from UNL as very valuable and memorable experience as the faculty were very kind and compassionate towards me during my learning process and I feel always indebted to them. 

Were there any other people, activities, or events from your time at UNL that helped you get to where you are now?
Professor D.J Sellmeyer, Professor Robert Kirby were kind enough to let me work in their labs. Prof. Weymouth was instrumental in giving the right direction to complete my degree successfully. Prof. Pearlstein and Prof.Bob Hardy were the best teachers from whom I learnt the subject very effortlessly. And Prof. S. Jaiswal was also a mentor for me.

Tell us about the path you took to get to where you are today in your career and how you applied your education in your major(s) or area(s) of study to get here.
The M.S degree at UNL has strengthened the foundation for taking up research activities at IIT KGP under able guidance of Late Prof. K.L. Chopra to study thin film growth phenomena with STM. Later at C-MET I contributed to indigenous development of Electronic Materials. Joining ISRO as a thin film process engineer for optics I have applied my physics in the fabrication and testing of space optics for remote sensing and space science applications.

What are your future professional goals?
My future plans are to continue to perform research activities in an academic environment through collaborations
in the areas of Nano-photonics and optical systems for Space and Astronomy.