Dr.K.V.Rao was born on 21st March 1920. He had his earlier education at Rajahmundry and Hyderabad in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India. He did his post graduation in Chemistry and research for his D.Sc. degree at the Banaras Hindu University under Prof. S.S.Joshi on " Active Nitrogen", an intermediary in the synthesis of Ammonia.
Dr.Rao's active Scientific career started in 1947. He worked in the Department of Mines in the erst while Nizam state (1947 - 1952) and in the Geological Survey of India (1952 - 1978). Dr.Rao work in the Department of Mines in the Nizam State and later in the GSI related to the chemical analysis of diverse Geological materials and the Geochemistry of rocks, ores, water , etc. After retirement he joined Birlas (1978 - 1985) and established the Birla Archeological and Cultural Research Institute, a research institute for study of Archeological Monuments. After seven years of active research he retired. Later he was interested in the environmental problems in and around Hyderabad.
Often, his work provided scope for research in the analytical methods as well as the Geochemistry related field investigations. Thus the nature of his research work was also coextensive with the analytical work and field investigations undertaken.
Dr.Rao research contributions are many and are on various subjects. Most important of them was his work on fluoride bearing waters in Andhra Pradesh., Rajasthan and Gujarat. The work related to incidence of fluorosis, defluoridation of waters by Serpentine (a naturally occuring mineral rejected as waste in asbestos mines), designing community defluoridation plants and portable family kits in fluorosis endemic villages.
Dr. Rao conducted geochemical studies of Godavari river waters collected from its birth place (Nasik) up to Antharvedi. He also undertook studies on water samples, rocks and soils wherever tributaries joined Godavari. Other works included studies on genesis and nature of barytes of Mangampeta and Pulivendula of Kadapa District.
His defluoridation work influenced medical specialists to successfully use serpentine as a medicine for the treatment of human fluorosis for which no medicine was known till then. Dr.K.J.R.Murthy is one of those pioneering physicians who did this work. Under Dr.Rao's influence work on fluorosis has been carried out in more and more scientific departments.leading to the organisation of a multidisciplinary "Symposium on Fluorosis" in 1974. The Symposium was attended by nearly 100 scientists, from scientific as well as medical and dental faculties. The recommendations made by the Symposisum made the Government to realise the need to tackle Fluorosis problem and take steps to address it.
At a time when Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometry was widely used for trace metal analysis, Dr. Rao, along with his colleague Dr. A. Purushottam, standardized the determination of both major and minor constituents of bauxite ores by AAS. This led to standardisatioin of instrumental methods for other ores and rocks also.
Dr.Rao's work in Birla Archeological and Cultural Research Institute was stupendous. He started a research lab from scratch for chemical analysis of complex archeological materials. His studies covered many archeological materials such as stone sculptures, wooden carvings & frames, temple bells, palm leaf books , metallic coins, dating the period of archeological excavations using bone ash obtained from archeological excavations .
Dr.Rao studied the effect of SO2 and NOx on marble, environmental pollution on Taj Mahal, Charminar etc. and weathering profiles and preservation of monuments. Gomateswara Statue at Sravana Belahala (Karnataka), Buddhist monuments in Sankaram, Madhukeswara Temple at Mukhalingam, Thousand pillar Temple at Hanumakonda, the famous Ramappa Temple near Warangal (in Andhra Pradesh ) are some such monuments studied. His old Geologist friends collaborated with him in these later studies. He not only published papers in Indian and international journals of repute but started publication of a bulletin and later journal of Archeological Chemistry.
He was the founder Secretary of Hyderabad Science Association, which was formed with the aims and objectives to popularize Science and its applications. The work by the Association was appreciated by the State Government and led to the formation of AP Academy of Science. His dream project was to establish a Science Museum in Hyderabad.
Thus, throughout his scientific career, Dr Rao's work was splendid by any measure. His contributions are too many to narrate for any one of those who watched him at close quarters.
Dr. Rao was a friend, philosopher and guide to his juniors, as well as senior colleagues. Not only his colleagues in Chemistry but also his geologist friends consulted him when tough situations arose.
Dr. Rao was a gem among men. His honesty, sincerity, perseverance and hard work were transparent in all his activities. When he was convinced of the soundness of his stand he never took a compromising attitude, come what may even when it was from his boss.
Dr.Rao was a man with laudable human qualities and feelings. Dr Rao was an intellectual with philosophical bent of mind. He attended some talks by Jiddu Krishnamurti in January 1974 and his interest in JK's teachings made him start a club by name "Listeners Club" with the objectives to provide a forum / avenue for the interested citizens of twin cities to hear his talks and his discussions with the well known scientists and intellectuals.