Indian scientist Shrinivas Kulkarni has won the prestigious Dan David prize for his contribution in the field of astronomy. Kulkarni is a professor of astrophysics and planetary science at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. He is a pioneer and leading figure in time-domain astrophysics across the electromagnetic spectrum who built and conducted the Palomar Transient Factory, a large-area survey of the night sky in search of variable and transient phenomena.
The survey has turned up thousands of stellar explosions, transforming our knowledge of the transient sky.
The USD 1 million prize is a joint international enterprise endowed by the Dan David Foundation headquartered at Tel Aviv University.
Kulkarni, with this honour, joins other prominent Indian laureates of the Dan David prize including author Amitav Ghosh, music conductor Zubin Mehta and renowned chemist CNR Rao.
The honour will be conferred at a festive awards ceremony here on May 21 in the presence of the laureates.
Three Dan David prizes of USD 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 recipients in the “Past” category are generally drawn from the field of history, archaeology, paleontology, biography, etc; the “Present” from arts, media, policy, economics, etc; and the “Future” from one of the exact or natural sciences.
The “Future” category this year is dedicated to astronomy and will be shared by Kulkarni, Andrej Udalski of the University of Warsaw and Neil Gehrels of NASA for their discoveries on time-domain astrophysics.
The prize, now in its 16th year, was established by the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist who envisioned a project that would extend beyond traditional academic categorisations.
This vision is fulfilled by a “roving” formula that seeks to reward achievements in all fields of human endeavour rather than in a fixed set of categories.
In order to encourage and foster new generations of scholars, 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.