PM Mathews obtained his BSc (Hons) in Physics from Madras University (1952). His research on the theory and applications of stochastic processes in physics under Dr Alladi Ramakrishnan earned him the MSc degree by research from Madras University followed by PhD (1956). After a short stint in the Railway Testing and Research Centre (RTRC) in Lucknow. He became a post-doctoral Fellow at NRC of Canada, Ottawa (1956-58) and then at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA (1958-59) and worked with Professor DL Falkoff. He returned to Madras University (1959) as Reader in the Department of Physics and later appointed as Professor (1964). He established an independent Department of Theoretical Physics and became its Head. Mathews served as INSA Senior Scientist during 1997-2001.
Academic and Research Achievements: At RTRC, Mathews developed the theory of vibrations of beams on elastic foundation (railway tracks). His primary research interests shifted to elementary particles, and his new Department at Madras University did pioneering work on relativistic wave equations for particles of arbitrary spin, their quantization, consistency problems in their interactions with external fields, invariance under various groups, analyses of massless particle fields, etc. In the late 1980s he switched over to a totally different field: the earth's nutation and precession (variations in direction of the earth's axis), and other concomitant phenomena like the earth tides caused by the gravitational action of the moon and sun, and influenced by properties of, and processes in, the earth's deep interior. The geophysical theory formulated by him culminated, later in the Mathews-Herring-Buffett (MHB) model of nutation, yielding close agreement with higly accurae space-geodetic observations. It is now the official model of the International Astronomical Union and other relevant international bodies. His paper in 1960 with Falkoff and II Shapiro on Stochastic Equations for Non-equilibrium Processes found a place in the compilation of notable papers relevant to Stochastic Processes in Chemical Physics by Irwin Oppenheim et al (MIT Press, 1977). Dr Mathew has published 110 research articles in reputed journals, co-authored the book, Text Book on Quantum Mechanics, and is a contributing author of the 9-volume Treatise on Geophysics (under publication by Elsevier). He has guided thirteen PhD students.
Awards and Honours: Mathew was the recipient of the Meghnad Saha Award for Theoretical Sciences, Bangalore (1975). He was elected as a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1975). In recognition to his work in the MHB model of nutation, he was elevated to the Fellowship of the American Geophysical Union (2004).