Dr. Ramana Athreya

Ramana Athreya is a member of the faculty of Physics and Biology of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune.

Dr. Athreya did a PhD in radio astronomy from the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics, Paris, and the European Southern Observatory, Chile. He then rejoined NCRA as faculty in 2003. In 2003, he also started the Eaglenest Biodiversity project in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh. Arunachal in north-east India is one of the most biodiverse regions of the world, perhaps next only to Andes-Amazonia.

In partnership with the Bugun indigenous community, he developed a conservation model based on incentivizing local community efforts through eco-friendly livelihoods. Ramana also discovered and described a bird species – the Bugun Liocichla – entirely new to science in 2006. It was the first such species discovered after Indian independence. Named after the Bugun people, it has become a mascot of Bugun conservation efforts.

The Buguns have set aside 32 square kilometers of their community forest as a legally protected reserve to conserve the biodiversity of the area, especially the Bugun Liocichla. The astronomy researchers working with Athreya study radio astronomy imaging algorithms, radio emissions from galaxy clusters, and active galactic nuclei. His research group in ecology consists of PhD scholars studying moths, ants, frogs, birds, etc. His personal efforts are focused on integrating biodiversity conservation, forest community livelihoods, and academic research in ecology in such a manner that they all support each other in a long-term self-sustaining manner. This conservation project has achieved considerable success and public acclaim.

He has received the Whitley Award (United Kingdom; 2011), Sanctuary Asia Wildlife Service Award (India; 2022), Worldwide Fund for Nature (India, 2007), and India Biodiversity Award (UNDP-Govt of India, 2018) among several others.