Venkatraman (Venki) Ramakrishnan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009, has revealed that he rebelled against a career in science, which is what his parents encouraged him to pursue.
Ramakrishnan, who was knighted in 2012 for services to molecular biology, told an audience at the Hay Festival in Wales: “I did not like studying”.
Born in Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu, Ramakrishnan was educated mostly in Baroda.
“I read a lot, but not my text books,” confided Venki, who was elected president of the Royal Society in March 2015.
It was only after his mother and father “gave up on me” that he started working hard and became interested in physics, he said.
Ramakrishnan discussed his research at the sell-out event with science journalist Roger Highfield.
One of the most popular literary events, the Hay Festival (26 May to 5 June) is held annually in the Welsh village of Hay-on-Wye, which is also known for the large number of bookshops.
Speakers at this year's festival include noted writer Salman Rushdie, who described his discovery of Shakespeare on stage as a student in boarding school in Rugby, Warwickshire.