History of the department : The establishment of the University of Calcutta in 1857 was a commitment towards developing Bengal as a Center of Learning and is the first modern university in the Indian subcontinent. The University is a state-government administered urban-based affiliating and Research University, with eight campuses in the city. The Department of Zoology, established in 1919, has its niche in the Taraknath Palit Shikshya Prangan, popularly known as the Ballygunge campus, and facilitates research and teaching in the subject at the post-graduate level.
Department of Zoology began its journey with D. Mukherjee as its first student and Prof. S. N. Moulik, eminent entomologist, as the first Professor. Subsequently the chair was held by Prof. B.K. Das, a noted icthyologist (1926-31), followed by Prof. H. K. Mukherjee, well known for his seminal contribution in comparative anatomy and developmental biology. After Prof. Mukherjee the chair was offered to Prof. J. L. Bhaduri, D.Sc. (Edin) in 1955. Prof. Bhaduri had made seminal contribution in reproductive endocrinology of amphibians.
During the same period, Prof. S. P. Roy Chaudhury, a PhD student of Nobel Laureate Herman J. Muller, was consolidating a Genetics Research Unit in the department. Prof. Roy Chaudhury worked on a variety of organisms like grasshoppers, Drosophila, spiders and even snakes, an escape story of which still enamors the minds of our students. Thus, the milestone was set for a glorious journey down time.
The history of the department was later enriched by altruistic contributions of a galaxy of teachers and scientists in India and abroad, like R. Bhattacharjee, HL Chaudhury (introduced a low cost method for induced breeding in India), Sivatosh Mookherjee, DK Choudhury, GK Manna, Amalesh Chowdhury, Satyabrata Nandi, Deben Banerjee, Ardhendu Mukherjee, SC Lakhotia, Tapan Kumar Banerjee, Sushil Mahato and Utpal Bhadra- to name a few. Prof. D. N. Ganguli for the first time introduced the ideas of neurosecretory cellular patterns in the brains of crustaceans. Prof. Asok Ghosh developed histology and endocrinology courses in the department and was the recipient of a Rockefeller grant for research.
A number of luminaries have visited this department as guests. The department had Prof. J. B. S. Haldane and Dr. Helen Spurway as visiting faculties to teach Genetics to the post-graduate students. Dr. D. C. Louch from Johns Hopkins University taught Ecology during 1961-64. Among other eminent academic personalities who visited this department are Sir Julian Huxley, T. Dobzhansky, A. I. Oparin, C. S. H. Waddington, A. Monroy, Otto Kepca, H. A. Bern and Ernst Mayr.
The department has the distinction of admitting meritorious students and has continued to produce outstanding students till date, some of whom have returned to the department in an earnest effort to continue the glorified tradition. Yet others have established themselves in academic and non-academic institutions and professions, in India and all over the world, accentuating the versatility instilled in students of this department. The department has encountered major upliftments in the last five years in terms of economy and curriculum, adorned by a modernized semester course and supported by DST-FIST and UGC-SAP programmes, which has paved the way towards becoming a Center of Excellence in the near future. The department will celebrate its centenary year in 2018.
Special award/ recognition from UGC or related statutory body : UGC-SAP II, DST-FIST Level II
Thrust areas in teaching and research of the academic department : Cancer Biology, Fisheries Sciences, Ecology, Genetics, Cell and Molecular Biology, Immunology, Envirmonmental Biology and Toxicology, Endocrinology,
Entomology, Wild Life Biology, Bioresource and Biotechnology.