Bhatnagar was a bright student and he developed an interest in Science right from his childhood. His grandfather was an Engineer by profession and a source of inspiration for him. He completed his graduation in Physics and M.Sc. in Chemistry with a first class grade. Soon he received a scholarship to study abroad in America. However, his destiny was such that he did not get a seat in the ship for America and had to pursue his higher studies in England itself. He was admitted to the University College in London where his mentor was Frederick G. Donnan, a renowned Chemistry Professor.
Bhatnagar was finally awarded the D.Sc. in 1921 and he began his career as a Professor. However, he soon started working on complicated problems like innovation in the process of oil drilling, solving problems for Delhi Cloth Mills, etc. He soon started advocating the need for research in the country. Bhatnagar is referred to as the ‘Father of Research Laboratories’ and he was appointed as the first director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. He has established around 12 National Laboratories in India for development in the field of Science.
Bhatnagar was awarded the Padma Bhushan in the year 1954. As an honour, The Government of India has also named an award after his name, the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Award for Science.