Rama Viswanathan

Professor of Chemistry and Computer Education

Courses taught recently: Introduction to Computer Hardware (CS125),  Computer Architecture (CS241), Computer Networks (CS231), Data Visualization (CS161),  Introduction to Computation and Modeling (CS261), Thermodynamics and Kinetics (CHEM240), Molecular Visualization, Modeling, and Computational Chemistry (CHEM245), and a First Year Initiative (FYI) Seminar titled "From the Buddha to Gandhi: Nonviolence and the History of India."

Teaching/Research Experience

At Beloit College since 1983, and Professor of Chemistry & Computer Education since 1996.

Sabbatical--Development (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).

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.

Visiting Scientist, Innovationszentrum Itzehoe, Germany (1996).

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

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 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

Beloit College Phee Boon Kang Prize for Innovation in Technology-Based Instruction (2001).

National Science Talent Scholarship (Government of India, 1970-1973).

 Professional Activities & Grants

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 (January1998).

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

"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.

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

"Graph theoretical properties and visualization of biological interactions using BioGrapher."  Rama Viswanathan, Han Lai, Hlaing Lin, Khalid Qumsieh, and John R. Jungck. Poster presented at the Society for Mathematical Biology Annual Meeting, San Jose, California, August 2, 2007.

"BioGrapher and WDisplay: Excel Modules for Data Visualization." BioQuest Notes, Vol. 15, pp 6-7 (2006).

"Manipulatives, Models, and Mathematics: Biomolecular visualization via analog and digital modalities for measuring and making meaning of 3D geometry and topology." Tia Johnson, Rama Viswanathan, Anna Farbotko, John R. Jungck.  Abstracts Molecular Biology of the Cell, v. 15, p. 234a (November 2004).

"Systems Biology Education: Exploring complex networks in DNA micorarrays and metabolonomics with BioGrapher and JavaBENZER." J. R. Jungck, R. Viswanathan, V. Streif, and D. Beck. Poster presented at The American Society for Cell Biology43rd 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).

An "electronic" laboratory notebook for field use in chemistry: Flexible and portable data acquisition system based on a Personal Digital assistant (PDA) interfaced to a Digital Multimeter (DMM). Abstracts—XII International Conference on Computers in Chemical Research and Education (XII ICCCRE), p. 38 . University of Pune, India (1998).

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).

Updated Feb.27, 2011