Cowsik receives award from Indian institutions

Ramanath Cowsik, Ph.D., professor of physics and director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences in Arts & Sciences, received the 2007 M. P. Birla Memorial Award from the M. P. Birla Institute of Fundamental Research and the M. P. Birla Planetarium in Kolkata, India.

Established in 1993, the biennial award is given for exceptional achievement in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, particle physics and allied disciplines.

“It is indeed a great honor to receive the award established in the name of Syt M. P. Birla, one of the greatest philanthropists and builders of industrial, scientific and cultural institutions in India,” said Cowsik, who received the award this summer during a ceremony in India.

He delivered the M. P. Birla Memorial Lecture during the event. His talk, titled “Ten Outstanding Questions in Fundamental Physics and Astrophysics — and My Efforts to Answer One of Them,” focused on the problem of “dark matter” shaping the large-scale structures in the universe.

“Professor Cowsik has not only played an important role in knowledge dissemination and research, but he has also been successful in producing brilliant, original results for better understanding of the universe,” Rajendra S. Lodha, chairman of the M. P. Birla Foundation, said while presenting Cowsik with his award.

Cowsik, who also is director emeritus and the Vainu Bappu Distinguished Professor at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bangalore, is considered one of the world’s pre-eminent astrophysicists.

Considered the father of astroparticle physics, he has made several seminal and lasting contributions to neutrino physics, gravitation and almost every aspect of high-energy astrophysics.

He has contributed to the understanding of particle physics, cosmic-ray physics, cosmology and gamma and X-ray astronomy.

While the IIA’s director for 11 years, he was instrumental in building the world’s highest ground-based observatory in Hanle, Ladakh, in the Himalayas.