Thanu Padmanabhan did his BSc and MSc (Physics) from Kerala University. Subsequently he joined (in 1979) Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai where he did his PhD (Physics). He held various positions at TIFR during 1980-92 and also spent a year (1986-87) at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge. He moved to Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune in 1992 and became Dean, Core Academic Programmes of IUCAA in 1997. He was an Adjunct Professor at TIFR, RRI (Bangalore) and Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad and was also Visiting Faculty at Caltech.
Academic and Research Achievements: Padmanabhan's researches span a wide variety of subjects in theoretical physics, in particular structure formation in the universe, quantum gravity and several aspects of astrophysics. Many of his contributions, especially those related to the analysis and modeling dark energy in the universe and the thermodynamics of space time horizons, made significant impact in the fields. In recent years, he has developed an alternative perspective on gravity which suggests that gravity is an emergent phenomenon like fluid dynamics or elasticity. This work provides an altenative paradigm from gravity and has deep implications for the quantum structure of spacetime. He has supervised the thesis work of thirteen students and authored ten books out of which seven have been published by Cambridge University Press. His book 'Structure Formation in the Universe' [Cambridge University Press, 1993] has been recognized as a classic in the field and his recent three-volume treatise on Theoretical Astrophysics [Cambridge University Press, 2000-02] is widely acclaimed as the authoritative textbook in this subject. These books are used extensively in several universities and institutions all over the world as graduate level textbooks. He has published about 230 papers and reviews in international journals.
Other Contributions: Professor Padmanabhan has been actively involved in popularization of science and has authored more than a hundred articles in Indian and international journals. His popular science book After the First Three Minutes (Cambridge University Press, 1998) has been translated into Chinese, Polish and Portuguese, and another book, The Story of Physics (Vigyan Prasar, Delhi, 2002) has been translated into several Indian regional languages. More recently he has contributed a 24 part series called Dawn of Science in the journal Resonance.
Awards and Honours: Padmanabhan is recipient of many national and international awards, including TWAS Prize in Physics (2011), Infosys Prize in Physical Sciences (2009), First Prize of the Gravity Research Foundation, USA (2008), Miegunah Fellowship Award (2004) of the University of Melbourne, GD Birla Award (2003), Homi Bhabha Fellowship (2003), Al-Khwarizmi International Award (2002), Millennium Medal (2000) of the CSIR, SS Bhatnagar Award (1996), BM Birla Award (1991), INSA Young Scientist Award and Associateship of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore (1984). He is an elected Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad. He was the Sackler Distinguished Astronomer of the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge and the President of the Cosmology Commission of the International Astronomical Union (2009-2012) and is currently Chairman (2011-2014) of the Astrophysics Commission of IUPAP.
He was awarded Padma Shri by the the President of India in 2007.