Science Man

UTSA’s B.S. Thyagarajan, in his laboratory at UTSA, became known as the Science Man of San Antonio for his morning TV segments on chemistry.

Science Man

A UTSA professor uses chemistry to tackle technical topics for San Antonians

[ This article was originally published in the UTSA newsletter The Roadrunner, September 12, 1988 ]

By day, B.S. Thyagarajan is a mild-mannered UTSA chemistry professor. However, every three weeks or so, he is transformed into Science Man of San Antonio. While he may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Science Man has an ability that is beyond even Superman’s. He can explain the mysteries of chemistry to a television audience using simple yet interesting examples.

Thyagarajan, or Dr. T as he is called by his students, has been making occasional appearances on KENS-TV’s early morning news program South Texas Sunrise. For about five minutes Thyagarajan is quizzed on interesting developments in chemistry that affect the lives of average San Antonians.

In one of his first appearances, Dr. T talked about the organic compounds found in sunscreens. Another segment dealt with “cough drops for bees.” Dr. T explained that honeybees occasionally become infected with small mites. “The mites get in the bees' tracheas, and the bees can't breathe. They get sluggish and won't make honey,” he said. “You can't kill the mites with pesticide because the bees will die too.”

Scientists discovered that placing a menthol compound in the beehive kills the mites without harming the bees. “It’s like giving them a menthol cough drop,” he explained.

Dr. T’s television career began when he suggested that South Texas Sunrise start a science segment to take advantage of San Antonio’s growing interest in biotechnology. KENS-TV liked the idea and asked Thyagarajan if he would do the segment. A star was born.

“They tell me several people have called in to say how much they like seeing the real-life applications of chemistry. I had tried to make it understandable and interesting, but I didn't know how it would go over. It’s been very heartening,” he says.


Thyagarajan became a professor emeritus in the Department of Chemistry after his retirement in 2001. The Archive of Organic Chemistry published a commemorative issue in honor of him when he retired from UTSA.