About us

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The Department of Chemistry commenced its activities in 1975, under the visionary leadership of (late) Professor S. Mageswaran.  By his farsighted thinking, unrelenting hard work and wholehearted devotion to duty he elevated this new Department into a prestigious center where innovation is strived for in research, objective reasoning forms the basis of teaching, and, candid discussion and unfeigned cooperation are the norm for general administration. 

These are the guiding principles of the Department even today and the Department is committed to maintain high standards in its academic and administrative spheres.


The Department of Chemistry of the University of Jaffna (then the Jaffna Campus of the University of Sri Lanka) came into existence in October 1974 when the undergraduate section of the Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai was taken over by the Government of Sri Lanka to establish the Faculty of Science of the new Campus.

In April 1975 Dr. S. Mageswaran was appointed as the first Head of the Department and the first batch of 27 undergraduates was admitted in June 1975.  In 1978 the Department was shifted to a part of the newly built Natural Science Block in the Thirunelveli premises of the Campus. In the same year Dr. P. Thurairajan was appointed as the first Professor of Chemistry. Later he resigned from the post due to ill health and Dr. S. Mageswaran was appointed as the Professor of Chemistry in December 1979.  In January 1979 the Jaffna Campus was raised to the state of an independent University.

Due to the untiring and dedicated efforts of Professor Mageswaran  a new building was erected and the Department shifted to its own block in 1983. This building was damaged two times during the war.

From its humble inception in 1974 the Department of Chemistry has now grown into a prestigious centre for higher learning – thanks to the efforts of its long time Head Professor Mageswaran and other members of the staff.  When Professor Mageswaran passed away in 1998, the building that houses the Department of Chemistry was named as ‘Mageswaran Block’ as a gesture of gratitude to the contribution made by him.


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 Late Professor S Mageswaran
Founder Head, Department of Chemistry

Late Professor Mageswaran’s untiring service to the University of Jaffna from the inception as the Head, Department of Chemistry, Senior Lecturer and Professor of Chemistry and later Senior Professor of Chemistry for 23 years and Dean, Faculty of Science for six years forms a symbol of dedication not only to the Faculty of Science but also to the University of Jaffna as a whole.


Born on 28th March 1942 Professor Mageswaran had his primary and secondary education at the Kokuvil Sri Ramakrishna Mission School and Kokuvil Hindu College. He entered the Faculty of Science of University of Ceylon 1962 and graduated in Chemistry with Honours in 1966. Soon after graduation he was appointed as an Assistant Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Ceylon. In 1968, he proceeded to the University of Sheffield, England from where he obtained his M.Sc. Degree in 1969 and Ph.D in 1972. After obtaining his post graduate degree he turned to the University of Peradeniya and served there as Lecturer in Chemistry. He was appointed as the Founder, Head, Department of Chemistry at the Faculty of Science, University of Jaffna in 1975 and as a Professor of Chemistry from March 1991 to November 1996. Professor Mageswaran was responsible for the architecture of the Chemistry Block in University of Jaffna. He put forward every detail by himself and made sure that they have been executed according to the plan. Due to this the Laboratories in the Department of Chemistry, University of Jaffna are comparable to any foreign Laboratories.


Professor Mageswaran was an eminent scholar in Chemistry. His main research fields are Natural Product Chemistry, Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Physical Organic Chemistry. He has published several research papers in local and foreign journals and produced able specialists in Chemistry, both graduates who not only hold responsible position in Sri Lanka but also all over the World. Professor Mageswaran was awarded a Travelling Fellowship in 1978/88 by the Nuffield Foundation and a Commonwealth Academic Staff Fellowship in 1987/88 for his research work at the University of Liverpool, England.


Professor Mageswaran has been a fellow of the Institute of Chemistry (Ceylon) and served as an executive member of the Educational Committee of the Institute of Chemistry, Ceylon from 1983 to 1986. He also served as a member of the academic council of the Institute of Fundamental studies from 1982 to 1984 and as a member of Research and Publication Committee of NARESA. He served on the University council of the University of Jaffna in 1981 as elected member and from 1991- 1996 as Dean/ Science. He was a member of the National Committee of SCAMAP from 1984 to 1989, a member of the Board of Management NPAUC Vavuniya from its inception and a member of Management of Vavuniya Campus of the University of Jaffna from 1997 upto his date of demise on 02.02.1998.


Professor Mageswaran was deeply interested in the welfare of students. He knew all his students by name. He has assisted many of them in finding jobs or obtaining placements for postgraduate studies. His selfless service will be remembered by two or three generations of grateful students who are spread far and wide around the globe and are doing well in life.

 Memorial Lectures. . .


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Name From To
1. Prof. S. Mageswaran    
2. Prof. Thirurajah    
3. Dr. V. Pasupathy    
4. Prof. (Mrs.) R. Mageswarn    
5. Dr. N. Sivapalan December 1995 March 1998
6. Dr. (Mrs.) M. Senthilnanthanan April 2003 June 2006
7. Prof. (Mrs.) R. Mageswarn July 2006 January 2007
8. Dr. (Mrs.) M. Senthilnanthanan February 2007 May 2007
9. Dr. R. Srikaran June 2007 August 2010
10. Dr. J. P. Jeyadevan  August 2010 To date


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