Rama Viswanathan


Professor (Emeritus) of Chemistry and Computer Education

Beloit College, Wisconsin


Courses taught: Social Entrepreneurship in Science and Technology (Practicum), Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, Introduction to Computer Hardware, Computer Architecture, Computer Networks, Data Visualization, Introduction to Computation and Modeling, Thermodynamics and Kinetics, Molecular Visualization, Modeling, and Computational Chemistry, and First Year Initiative (FYI) Seminars including “From the Buddha to Gandhi: Nonviolence and the History of India,” and “The Seals and Symbols of the Indus Valley Civilization: A Fascinating Mystery.”



Teaching/Research Experience


Senior Scientist, GetAt Inc., Palo Alto, California (current).


At Beloit College since 1983, and Professor of Chemistry & Computer Education since 1996. Emeritus as of Jan. 1, 2015.


Sabbatical–Taught minicourses in Computer Architecture and Scanning Tunneling/Atomic Force Microscopy at St. Xavier's College, one of India's first liberal arts colleges to be granted autonomous university status, in Mumbai during fall 2011.  Also started development (work in progress) of the “Wallputer”–a unique low-cost solar-powered computer and display kiosk with real-time client software for Google Calendar and PicasaWeb (2010-present).


Sabbatical–Senior Visiting Scientist, BioQuest/BEDROCK Consortium, Beloit College (2003). Worked on projects to develop software and applications of mathematical and computational biology for the undergraduate curriculum.

Sabbatical–Visiting Scientist, Innovationszentrum Itzehoe, Germany (1996).


Director of Academic Computing, Beloit College (1990-93).


Sabbatical–Visiting Associate Professor of Chemistry, Northwestern University (1989-1990).


Visiting Scientist, IBM Almaden Research Laboratory (1986).


Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Chemistry, Northwestern University (1980-83).



Areas of Expertise and Teaching/Research Interests


Computer Software and Hardware. Programming in high-level languages including Pascal, C, C++, Java, FORTRAN, BASIC, and HyperTalk (HyperCard, MetaCard, and Revolution/LiveCode IDEs). Programming in scripting languages–JavaScript, Perl, Python, and PHP–including server-side applications. Programming and Systems Management (Unix/Linux). Excel front-ends using VBA. Assembly/Machine language programming. Hardware and software design on laboratory microcomputer and minicomputer systems for control and data acquisition purposes. Interfacing instruments and portable data acquisition using PDAs. Computer networking hardware and software. Techniques of numerical analysis. Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics. Data Visualization.


Laser Techniques and Technology. Pulsed lasers and associated fast detectors in the UV, visible and IR. Applications in research in photochemistry and surface chemistry.


High speed Analog and Digital Electronics (including microwave electronics and instrumentation).


Ultrahigh Vacuum Techniques and Technology.


Molecular Beam Techniques. Ph.D. research was the determination of geometries of weakly bound complexes involving H2S (formed in supersonic nozzle beams) using microwave and radiofrequency molecular beam electric resonance spectroscopy.





Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, University of Oregon, Eugene (1980).


M.Sc. in Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology (I.I.T.), Kanpur, India (1975).


B.Sc. in Chemistry, St. Xavier's College, Bombay University, India (1973).



Awards and Honors


Coleman Foundation Fellowship (2013-2014); Beloit College Phee Boon Kang Prize for Innovation in Technology-Based Instruction (2001); National Science Talent Scholarship, Government of India (1970-1975).






Professional Activities & Grants


Invited speaker, presenting on development of LiveCode front-ends for Big Data at the 2014 LiveCode RunRevLive Developers Conference, San Diego, California, September 4, 2014.


PI, NCIIA planning grant for development of a Social Entrepreneurship course focusing on Science and Technology (August 2012-May 2013).


Invited poster presentation and demonstration of  “Pervasive Display” software and Wallputer hardware prototype at the ARM Developer Workshop held at MIT, February 3, 2012.


Invited speaker, presenting on development of “Pervasive Display/Wallputer” software at the 2011 LiveCode Developers Conference, San Jose, California, April 26, 2011.


NSF/DUE-CCLI grant (DUE 0633651) for the development of a laboratory for computational visualization and modeling (CVM) as part of an innovative minor in the field (2007-2010).


Participated in Image and Meaning mini-workshops sponsored by Harvard's Initiative for Innovative Computing, MIT, and Sigma Xi at the Illinois Institute of Technology September 7-8, 2006 (IM2.2) and at Harvard University October 25-26, 2007 (IM2.4). The workshops brought together scientists from different fields, graphic designers, artists, computing experts, science communicators and science-center professionals.


Invited keynote speaker on bioinformatics at the tenth anniversary celebration of the founding of Innovationszentrum Itzehoe (IZET), a technology park funded by the state of Schleswig-Holstein. Itzehoe, Germany. (April 2004).


Attended and completed a Cold Spring Harbor course in Computational Genomics (November 2003).


NSF/DUE-CCLI grant (DUE 9952604) for pump-probe pulsed laser photophysical studies (February, 2000).


Member of the International Program Committee, an invited speaker, and a session co-chair at the 12th International Conference on Computers in Chemical Research and Education (ICCCRE XII), held at the University of Pune in India (January 1998).


Grants of equipment from Apple Computers, Intel, Inmos-SGS Thompson, Johnson Wax Foundation, National Semiconductor Corporation, and most recently from Texas Instruments.



Selected Publications & Abstracts


“Introduction to Computational Chemistry: Teaching Hückel Molecular Orbital Theory Using an Excel Workbook for Matrix Diagonalization.” Joshua Litofsky (Beloit College '14) and Rama Viswanathan. J. Chem. Ed. (in press, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed500376q ).


“Graph Theory for Systems Biology: Interval Graphs, Motifs, and Pattern Recognition.” John Jungck and  Rama Viswanathan. In: Robeva R, ed. Algebraic and Discrete Mathematical Methods for Modern Biology, Chapter 1.  Academic Press 2015 (in press).


“Multiple visualizations of quantitative biology: The ESTEEM collection.” Rama Viswanathan and Gretchen Koch, Abstracts AMS, v. 29, 257 (2008). Paper presented at the American Mathematical Society Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, January 9, 2008.


“BioGrapher: An Excel Front-End for Computation of Graph Theoretical Properties and Graphical Visualization of Networks.” Poster: Rama Viswanathan (invited presenter at special NSF session), Han Lai, Hlaing Lin, Khalid Qumsieh, and John Jungck. American Mathematical Society Annual Meeting, San Diego, California, January 7, 2008.


“Systems Biology Education: Exploring complex networks in DNA microarrays and metabolonomics with BioGrapher and JavaBENZER.” J. R. Jungck, R. Viswanathan, V. Streif, and D. Beck. Poster presented at The American Society for Cell Biology 43rd Annual Meeting, San Francisco, California (December 2003).


“Implementation of pulsed laser-based nanosecond luminescence and pump-probe experiments in the physical chemistry laboratory.” Roland D. Saito and R. Viswanathan. Poster presentation, American Chemical Society National Conference, San Diego (April 2, 2001).


“Off-the-shelf portable data acquisition: Interfacing a serial-port equipped multimeter.” R. Viswanathan, G. Lisensky, and D.A. Dobson. Journal of Chemical Education 73, A41 (1996).


Revised Dec. 6, 2014