Prabhu Lal Bhatnagar obtained his DPhil (1939) and DSc (1947) degrees from the University of Allahabad. His areas of specialization were mathematics, kinetic theory, astronomy and astrophysics. He was Reader and Head (1947-56), St. Stephen's College, Delhi; Visiting Lecturer (1952), Visiting Professor (1960), Harvard University, USA; Professor (1956-69) and Head, Department of Mathematics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore; Vice-Chancellor, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur (1969-73); and Director, Mehta Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Allahabad (1975-76).
Academic and Research Achievements: Bhatnagar worked on the theory of functions, astronomy and astrophysics. His work on the origin of the solar system and the theory of Cepheid variable stars received inernational recognition. At Harvard University, he did his most outstanding work on what has come to be known as the 'Bhatnagar-Gross-Krook' collisional model in the kinetic theory of gases, which retains most of the physical properties of this system and has the merit of great mathematical simplicity. This model is greatly useful in solving problems of gas dynamics. He did extensive and original work in pure and applied mathematics, especially on (i) summability of Fourier and allied series (ii) astronomy, (iii) fluid mechanics, (iv) magnetohydrodynamics and (v) plasma physics. He wrote more than a dozen books.
Other Contributions: Bhatnagar served on the Editorial Boards of six journals. He was an INSA Council Member (1961-62, 1964-66, 1970-72).
Awards and Honours: Bhatnagar was President, Mathematics Section of Indian Science Congress (1962). He received Padma Bhushan (1968) and was a Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad. He was Member of Indian Mathematical Society (President, 1964, 1965, 1968); Indian Society of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics (President, 1971); Calcutta Mathematical Society; Bharat Ganit Parishad; American Astronomical Society; and International Astronomical Union.