Dr. Bhabani Prasad Choudhury
Name: Dr. Bhabani Prasad Choudhury
Designation: Professor (Retired) (1970-1999)
Qualification: M.Sc., Ph.D. (Utkal)
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Bhabani Prasad Choudhury, popularly known as ‘Sunil Babu’ had occupied a special place in the field of Plant Taxonomy in Odisha and outside. Of course, he has given credit for the success to many of his mentors. His travel from ‘Plant Metabolism’ to ‘Plant Taxonomy’ was under compulsion. When I mention ‘compulsion’, one may be surprised, how a subject thrust on him brought laurels in his life. Simultaneously, it proves ‘Nothing is impossible in life, if you have dedication and determination’. After passing Matriculation in 1956 in 1st Division, he took admission in S.C.S. College, Puri, later moved to Ravenshaw College, Cuttack to study U.G. and P.G. in Botany. Throughout his academic career, he stood 1st. He was also a noted guitarist.

Prof. Choudhury joined Ravenshaw College, Cuttack (now, Ravenshaw University) as Lecturer in Botany on 14th November,1962. He could have done research work after passing M.Sc. as he was a recipient of Government of India Scholarship from I.Sc. to M.Sc., but he preferred to join in Orissa Education Service to improve the financial condition of his family. While being a Lecturer at Ravenshaw College, Dr. Gourirani Ghosh, who was teaching Mycology, joined as Reader at Regional College of Education, Bhubaneswar. Hence, there was a crisis as to who will teach Mycology and Pathology. He, being the junior most, was forced to teach Mycology and Pathology by the then Professor and Head of Botany Department, Prof. Banshidhar Samantarai. He had no other option, but to accept it. Although specialized in Plant Metabolism, he taught Mycology in M.Sc.(Part-I) and special paper ‘Plant Pathology’ in Final year M.Sc. Simultaneously, he was carrying out research in Plant Physiology under the guidance of Prof. Samantarai.
On personal request of Prof. Choudhury, Government transferred him to B.J.B.College, Bhubaneswar in 1965 and with his determination and effort, he started Botany honours course there. He became very popular among teaching fraternity and student community for his active participation in the cultural activities as a singer as well as guitar player. He had organized an orchestra group ‘Rhythm’, which was the first and unique instrumental group in the State of Odisha.

When Post-Graduate Department of Botany came up in Vani Vihar under Utkal University, he joined as a Lecturer in 1969. Here, he started his research work on Fern cytology under the guidance of Prof. Satya Narayan Patnaik. Hardly had he progressed for about two years, Prof. Bidyadhar Padhi, the then Professor and Head of the Department persuaded him to carry out research work in Plant Taxonomy. As, there were no qualified teachers in Plant Taxonomy, a very neglected subject at that time, most of the students were allergic to this branch of Plant Science. Initially, being ignorant of intricate aspects of taxonomy, he was at a loss, but soon overcame this difficulty and finally got Ph.D. in Floristics under the guidance of Prof. S.N. Patnaik. During 1981-82, he started ‘Systematic Botany’ as a Special Paper in Vani Vihar. His students, now, are well placed in reputed Institutes of Odisha as well as outside. Gradually, he became fascinated in the mangrove vegetation of Bhitarkanika. His paper ‘A Glimpse into the vegetation of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary in the State of Orissa”, published in ‘Indian Botanical Reporter’, in 1984, received a wide appreciation. Gradually, it proliferated to other allied branches like ethnobotany, ethnomusicology and medicinal plants.

Prof. Choudhury superannuated in 1999 and breathed his last on 8th September, 2008. While being such a learned intellectual, he was also a very amiable, humble and a humorous person. His physical disability did not deter him in achieving success in life and thus he travelled a long way from obscurity to the heights of fame.