Alumni: Narahari K. Rao, 1949
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1949

September 5, 1921 - May 5, 2000


Rao was born in Kovvur (Andhra Pradesh), India. He did his undergraduate and graduate work at Andrha University, earning his BSc in 1942 and his MSc a year later. Then he worked as a meteorologist with the Government Service in India before coming to the United States in 1946, as a graduate student under Gerhard Herzberg, then professor of spectroscopy at Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago. Rao took all the regular graduate astronomy and astrophysics courses, worked with Herzberg in his spectroscopy laboratory; and did his PhD thesis on CO and CO+ (published in five papers in the Astrophysical Journal and Journal of Chemical Physics) under his supervision. Rao went to McDonald Observatory one summer to assist Belgian astrophysicist Pol Swings in his spectroscopic observations with the 82-inch reflector. Swings was then working on selective excitation of molecular emission lines in cometary spectra by fluorescence in sunlight.

After receiving his PhD in 1949, Rao worked from 1950 through 1952 at the National Physical Laboratory of India. Then he came back to America, with short-term research appointments at Duke University and the University of Tennessee, before becoming a research associate at Ohio State in 1954. He joined the Ohio State faculty as an associate professor in 1960, and was promoted to full professor in 1963.

Rao's research was centered on high-resolution infrared spectroscopy. He pioneered improvements in wavelength standards and advanced methods of achieving higher resolution.