Rajaram Nityananda studied physics at the Vivekananda College and the IIT in Chennai, and joined NAL, the National Aeronautical laboratory, Bangalore in 1969 for doctoral work After submitting his thesis on optics and crystallography to the Bangalore University, he moved to the Raman Research Institute in 1975. Over nearly 25 years, he worked in some areas of condensed matter physics, astronomical optics and image processing, and gravitational dynamics. At the NCRA-TIFR (National Centre for Radio Astrophysics of the Tata Institute of fundamental research), in Pune, he served as Centre Director from 2000 to 2010.
He has taught physics and astronomy at the graduate school level both in Bangalore and in Pune. After a short period at TIFR Hyderabad, and IISER Pune, he taught undergraduate physics at the Azim Premji University from 2014 to 2021. He is currently at the ICTS-TIFR (International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, TIFR) as a visiting professor. He has a keen interest in teaching basic physics and communicating physics and astronomy to a wider audience.