Rajiv Vasantrao Gavai earned his BSc and MSc degrees from Nagpur University and Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai, respectively, after which he joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai and worked on strong interaction phenomenology. After obtaining his PhD degree (1981) from the Mumbai University, he went to Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt Fellow to work with H Satz of University of Bielefeld in the area of quantum field theory on space-time lattices. He stayed on as a Visiting Professor in the Interdisciplinary Center for Research in Bielefeld till 1984, and moved subsequently to Brookhaven National Laboratory, New York, as a Research Associate. He returned to India in 1986 and joined TIFR. He has been a Visiting Scientist / Professor at CERN, Geneva (1988-89); University of Minnesota, USA (1995-96); University of Tsukuba, Japan (1998); Service de Physique Theorique, Saclay, France (2003) and University of Bielefeld , Germany (2004). He is currently Senior Professor & Chair of the Theoretical Physics Department at TIFR.
Academic and Research Achievements: Professor Gavai has distinguished himself both internationally and nationally as a leader in the field of lattice quantum chromodynamics (QCD) and quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which is a unique and important prediction of the standard model of particle interactions. Amongst his many important results on the phase diagram of strongly interacting matter, the chief ones are the existence of a chiral phase transition, the order of this transition and the location of its critical point. He showed that the production of the so-called strange particles in heavy ion collision experiments at CERN, Geneva and BNL, New York, is consistent with the expectation of quark-gluon plasma production in those collisions. His work was the first one to establish the importance of perturbative QCD in evaluating signals of QGP, leading others to join him in making critical assessment of such signals. He has published over 160 research articles and has mentored physicists at several levels, including four PhD students.
Other Contributions: Gavai was one of the driving forces to get e-mail connectivity to all academic institutions in India. He nurtured the lattice field theory activity in India, forming a national initiative and attracting young Indian researchers from abroad. As a member of the international advisory committees of the series of conferences on Lattice Field Theory as well as Quark Gluon Plasma, he has helped and continues helping, to shape their academic programme. Professor Gavai has edited several books and is on the Editorial Board of Pramana, a journal of Physics and Nuclear Physics A, of Elsevier, Holland.
Awards and Honours: Professor Gavai was awarded i) J. C. Bose Fellowship (2010) and ii) the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship (1980). He is also a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Science, Bangalore.