Srini­vas Kulka­rni physi­cist turned as­tronomer

physi­cist turned as­tronomer

Alive - - Contents - by G.V.Joshi

His path­break­ing re­search in the field of astron­omy may help in solv­ing the mys­tery

of vast uni­verse.

Prof. Shrini­vas Kulka­rni, a physi­cist turned as­tronomer has been awarded the pres­ti­gious Dan David prize for his con­tri­bu­tion in the field of astron­omy. He is a pro­fes­sor of astro­physics and plan­e­tary sci­ence at Cal­i­for­nia In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy (Caltech) in Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia, USA.

The $1 mil­lion prize is a joint in­ter­na­tional en­ter­prise en­dowed by the Dan David Foun­da­tion based at Tel Aviv Uni­ver­sity, (TAU) a pub­lic re­search uni­ver­sity in Is­rael.

With this hon­our, Prof. Kulka­rni has joined other promi­nent In­dian lau­re­ates of the Dan David prize in­clud­ing au­thor Ami­tav Ghosh, mu­sic con­duc­tor Zu­bin Me­hta and renowned chemist Dr CNR Rao. The hon­our was con­ferred at a fes­tive awards cer­e­mony on 21 May in the pres­ence of the lau­re­ates.

Three Dan David prizes of $1 mil­lion each are given ev­ery year in the cat­e­gories of “Past,” “Present” and “Fu­ture” to peo­ple around the world who have made out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tions to hu­man­ity in the sci­ences, hu­man­i­ties or through their work in civil so­ci­ety.

The Dan David Foun­da­tion was founded in 2000, with a $100 mil­lion en­dow­ment by Ro­ma­nian-born Is­raeli busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist, Dan David.

The “Fu­ture” cat­e­gory in 2017 is ded­i­cated to astron­omy and will be shared by Prof. Kulka­rni, An­drej Udal­ski of the Uni­ver­sity of War­saw and Neil Gehrels of NASA for their dis­cov­er­ies in Astro­physics, a branch of Astron­omy.

The prize, now in its 16th year, was es­tab­lished by the late Dan David, an in­ter­na­tional busi­ness­man and phi­lan­thropist.

Ca­reer of achieve­ments

The lau­re­ates are re­quired to do­nate 10 per cent of their prize money to­wards schol­ar­ships for grad­u­ate or post-grad­u­ate re­searchers in their re­spec­tive fields.

Shrini­vas was born in the small town of Ku­rund­wad in south­ern Ma­ha­rash­tra on 4 Oc­to­ber 1956 as one of four chil­dren of the sur­geon Dr. R. H. Kulka­rni, a med­i­cal col­lege pro­fes­sor and Vimla Kulka­rni. He re­ceived his early ed­u­ca­tion in Hub­balli, Kar­nataka.

He ob­tained his M.Sc. in Physics from the In­dian In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy, Delhi in 1978, and his Ph.D. at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley in 1983, and joined CALTECH 1987.

Shrini­vas is cur­rently a pro­fes­sor of astron­omy and plan­e­tary sci­ence at Caltech and the di­rec­tor of Caltech Op­ti­cal Ob­ser­va­tory (COO) at Caltech, which over­sees Palo­mar and Keck among other ob­ser­va­to­ries.

The suc­cess of his as­tro­nom­i­cal re­search is seen by his 479 sci­en­tific re­search pa­pers that bear his name.

He is a mem­ber of four na­tional acad­e­mies around the globe. He was elected a Fel­low of the Royal So­ci­ety, Lon­don, in 2001, a mem­ber of the United States Na­tional Academy of Sci­ences in 2003, an hon­ourary fel­low of In­dian Academy of Sci­ences in 2012, and a for­eign mem­ber of the Royal Nether­lands Academy of Arts and Sci­ences on 12 Septem­ber 2016.

He has re­ceived a num­ber of awards in­clud­ing the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion's Alan T. Water­man Award in 1992, He­len B. Warner Prize from the Amer­i­can As­tro­nom­i­cal So­ci­ety in 1991, Jan­sky Prize in 2002 and now the Dan David Prize in 2017.

Shrini­vas met Ms. Hiromi Komiya, a ci­ti­zen of Japan, in the early 80s, when she was a stu­dent of bio­chem­istry in the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, USA, where he was study­ing for his Ph.D in astron­omy.

They got mar­ried in 1985. They have two daugh­ters Anju and Maya. Shrini­vas is the younger brother of Mrs. Sudha Murthy (wife of N.R. Narayan Murthi, one of the founders of INFOSYS, the well­known In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Com­pany of In­dia).

What next? Pos­si­bly a No­bel Prize in the com­ing years!

Shrini­vas Kulka­rni has been awarded the Dan David Prize for out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion in astro­physics.

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