A Department as old as Zoology, which has seen the rising sun for hundred years, has a long history. It has nurtured the glories of its legendary past and at the same time inducted fresh life into itself. Established in 1906, the Department of Zoology is one of the oldest Department of the country. It was Prof. Homersham Cox and Prof. F.M. Howlett, the two personalities with great vision that Biology was introduced as a subject of study for the Bachelor of Science Degree of the University. The teaching began with establishment of the Department of Biology and a class of fifteen students under the tutelage of Prof. F.M. Howlett. On November 7 of the same year, Sir C.F.de la Fosse, the Director of Public Instruction, Made a request to the Executive Engineer of the Public Works Department for planning a building for the Biology Department of the Muir Central College. The building was approved and came up in its present from in the October of 1910 involving a cost of Rs.67,607.00. Having fulfilled his vision, Prof. F.M. Howlett left for PUSA, Delhi in November 1906 and Prof. A.D. Imms, FRS and an Entomologist of world renown, took charge as the Head of the Department after joining it as a Professor of Biology in 1907. However, Prof. Imms did not stay for long and tendered his resignation in the September of 1910 as the climate of the city did not suit his health. He was transferred to Dehradun as Forest Entomologist and left this Department in 1911. Prof. Imms subsequently adorned the chair of the Head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Cambridge.
In the meantime, Prof. D. R. Bhattacharya, one of the students of the first batch of students of B. Sc. tutored under Prof. Howlett, was appointed as Professor of Botany in August 1910. The combination allowed for B. Sc. Degree was Biology, Chemistry, Physics and General English till 1914. In 1915, the Combination of subjects changed and Biology was separated into Botany and Zoology and Physics was eliminated. Prof. A. D. Imms was succeeded by Capt. Parker, IMS, Major Cunninghum, IMS and Prof. D. R. Bhattacharya who acted as Heads for interim period of time
Towards the end of 1912, Dr. W.N.F. Woodland from England took full fledged charge of the Head of the Department. The faculty increased and young and enthusiastic teachers joined the Department. Prof. D. R. Bhattacharya was shifted from Botany to Zoology in the same year as by this time Biology had already been separated into Botany and Zoology. Mr. Ram Saran Nigam also joined the Department in 1912 as the first Demonstrator in Biology. In 1915, a third post was created and Dr. K.N. Bahl joined the Department but left it later to join as Professor in Zoology at Lucknow University.
Years passed by and in 1922, the University got reorganized as a residential University. Dr. Woodland retired from service first Indian Head of the Department, Prof. D.R. Bhattacharya took over the reins from Dr. Woodland. The teaching faculty increased with the appointment of Mr. B.K. Das, Mr. Ram Saran Das, Mr. S.K. Dutta, Mr. L.P. Gupta and Pannalal Loiwal. Mr. Ram Saran Das was the first recipient of D.Sc. degree in 1930 from this department and served as Reader until his premature death in the July of 1947. Dr. Dharam Naraian, another member of the Department was the first to receive the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in 1938.
Prof. D.R. Bhattacharya remained at the helm of affairs of the Department for nearly a quarter of a century till 1947, the year of our Independence. He established a very strong school of Cytology in the Department, at a time when cytological studies were still in their infancy in India-the only other worker in the field being Prof. Vishwanath at Punjab University, Lahore. During the tenure of Prof. Bhattacharya, in 1925, Dr. H. R. Mehra, Head of the Zoology Department, Benaras Hindu University was appointed as a Reader in this Department. It was he who introduced the subject of Helminthology in the Department. Dr. S. C. Verma, who joined the Department in 1940, introduced Economic Zoology, in which the study of insects comprised separate paper. This paper was subsequently renamed Entomology and is continuing since then. Prof. Bhattacharya also intimated the special subject Fish and Fisheries during his tenure as the Head. Meanwhile in 1945, the Department was called upon to start M.Sc. course in Agricultural Zoology and Dr.K.N. Srivastava was appointed as a lecturer to teach this course.
Besides being a great academician Prof. Bhattacharya was great connoisseur of Indian classical music. He played a pivotal role in organizing All India Music Conferences in the Senate House of University, which has been a witness to many great debut performances of luminaries in the world of classical music. Prof. Bhattacharya made immense contribution to the corporate life of the University and after a very long innings retired and handed over charge to Prof. H.R. Mehra. Prof. Bhattacharya was elevated to the post of Vice-Chancellor of this University in 1949. In recognition of the enormous contributions of Prof. Bhattacharya to the academic and cultural activities of the University, the Auditorium of Nehru Science Complex in the Faculty of Science has been named ‘D. R. Bhattacharya Auditorium’.
The legacy of Prof. Bhattacharya was carried forward by Prof. M. D. L. Srivastava- a worthy student of worthy teacher. Prof. M.D.L. Srivastava ascended the chair of Professor and Head of the Department in the Year 1955, after receiving charge from Prof. H.R. Mehra. He nursed the Department for long period of twelve years and carried it to the pinnacle of glory in the field of Cytology and Cytogenetics. Prof. M.D.L. Srivastava was a profound scholar of several languages besides being a cytologist par excellence. His school of Cytology was strengthened in the subsequent years by Prof. Dipika Kaul, Prof. C.B.L. Srivastava, Prof D.N. Vishnoi, Dr.V.S. Bhatnagar, Prof. S. Roy, Prof. P. Gaur, Prof. U.C. Srivastava, Prof. Anita Gopesh and Prof. R.R. Tewari.
After the retirement of Prof. M.D.L. Srivastava in 1976, Dr. D.N. Verma officiated as the Head for two years. In the August of 1969, Prof. U.S. Srivastava joined the Department as the Head- another worthy student of the Department, who had received his D.Phil Degree under Prof. D.R. Bhattacharya. Although a cytologist by training, Prof. U.S. Srivastava established a very strong school of Entomology in the Department with Prof S.N. Prasad and Prof. Prabhu Grover Prof.Om Prakash, Dr.G.Nath, Prof. P.K. Mandal, Prof. Y.N. Singh and Prof. Krishna Kumar.
The Department of Zoology witnesses a golden period during his tenure from 1969 to 1984 as the academic atmosphere in the Department reached the Zenith of it glory during this period the Department excelled under his stewardship both in teaching and research. Prof. Srivastava not only created congenial atmosphere for promoting quality research in Department but also set high standards of excellence by publishing high quality research papers in prestigious International and National journals including “Nature”, “Science”, “Experientia” and “Journal of insects Physiology”. As an academician, Prof. Srivastava was an excellent teacher, a giant in his subject, master of various skills and a staunch well wisher of his students. Prof. Srivastava was also architect of science popularization programme of the National Academy of Science, India.
In past two decades, the Department made steady progress under the stewardships of Prof. A.N. Chattoraj, Prof. C.B.L. Srivastava, Prof. H.R. Singh and Prof.S.C. Tewari. Prof. H.R. Singh guided the Department successfully, adding new disciplines, reconstructing the curriculum and providing a vision for the upliftment of the Department. New dimension was added to the Department by introducing Industrial Fish and Fisheries as a vocational subject as the undergraduate level. Prof. H.R. Singh became the Vice-Chancellor of the Allahabad University in 2003.
The Department of Zoology is proud to have one of the best Zoological Museums in the country. Founded by Prof. Howlett, the museum was enriched over the years by great efforts of the faculty member. It has a wide collection of animals belonging to different group, rare and precious specimens of many endangered species, primate and non-primate mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fishes, skeleton of vertebrates such as the African and the Indian elephants, camel, goat, panther and human, freaks of nature in the animals, abnormal human fetuses and rare and expensive invertebrate specimens. The museum is not only of educational value to the students but is also frequently visited by people coming to the city from all over the country and abroad.
The Department of Zoology has a very rich Library too-which is the heart of its academic pursuits. The library has had the privilege of subscribing to over thirty journals of international repute in the distant past and still has a collection of old journals related to almost every field of Zoology. Besides, a large number of text books in traditional as well as modern disciplines are present in the library.
The Department has always strived to maintain quality in teaching and research and has carved out a place for itself as a leading centre of education in the country. The students of this Department have always occupied important positions in academic and administrative arena during more than hundred years of its existence. With a view to optimize the impact in teaching and research commensurate with current scenario, new academic programmers have been introduced and the syllabi have been drastically restructured. Modern disciplines have been initiated in both teaching and research. Interdisciplinary activities and collaborative research are gaining momentum.
The Department is at present offering Animal Cytogenetics, Cell Biology, Entomology, Environmental Biology, Fish and Fisheries, Parasitology as special and Molecular Biology, Biotechnology, Animal Behaviour and Formal and Experimental Embryology as compulsory subject to the postgraduate students in their final year.
The Department has now been inducted under SAP/DRS programme of the University Grants Commission, New Delhi and FIST Programme of the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, New Delhi with the sustained and renewed efforts of Prof. H.R. Singh. Apart from excellence in teaching the faculty members have been contributing significantly in quality research by publishing high quality research papers in various reputed National and International journals including “Springer”, “ Elsevier”, “ NISCAIR” and “Cambridge Journals”. The thought line areas, in which the research is being pursued, include Neurobiology, Immunocytochemistry, Endocrinology, Insect Endocrinology, Fish and Fisheries, Parasitology, Entomology, Cytology, Biochemistry and Molecular Cytogenetics. The research programmes of Department have been supported by various funding agencies viz: UGC, CSIR, ICMR & DBT, Govt. of India, New Delhi.
Department has had the privilege of being associated with the foundation of the oldest Science Academy of the country. In 1930, Prof. M.N. Saha propounded the idea of a forum for publication of research work carried out by Indian scientists and to provide an opportunity for them to exchange their views. An academy was conceived and Prof. M. N. Saha, Prof. K. N. Bahl, Prof. D. R. Bhattacharya, Prof. P. C. MacMohan, Prof. A.C. Banerjee, Prof. Ch. Wali Mohammad and Prof. Neel Ratan Dhar signed a memorandum of Association. Thus, the first Science Academy of the country came into existence at Allahabad as ‘The Academy of Science of United Provinces of Agra and Oudh’ in 1930. Prof. M. N. Saha was elected its first President and Prof. Neel Ratan Dhar and Prof. K.N. Bahl were Vice Presidents. The Academy was later christened ‘The National Academy of Sciences, India. Since the inception of Academy, the Department has been associated very closely with it. Several faculty members have been inducted as its Fellows and have held important positions from time to time.