Ramanath Cowsik earned his BSc from the University of Mysore (1958), MSc in Physics from Karnataka University (1960). He completed the course of Atomic Energy Establishment Training School Mumbai (1961) and joined the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in 1961, obtaining his PhD in Physics (1968) under the guidance of Professor Yash Pal. He continued at TIFR through 2002 where he served as Distinguished Professor. On lien from TIFR, he worked as the Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (1992-2003). In December 2002 he joined Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, where he currently serves as Professor of Physics and Director, McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.
Academic and Research Achievements: Cowsik theorized that weakly interacting particles with finite rest mass would form a gravitationally dominant relict of the 'big-bang' origin of the universe. They will trigger the formation of galaxies, and will thus generically condense into halos of dark matter that embed the galaxies within them. He showed that such cosmological considerations place strict bounds on the sums of masses of the neutrinos. His dynamically self-consistent theories correctly reproduce the luminosity profiles and the rotation curves of galaxies and provide an insight into the velocity dispersion of particles of dark matter. His research interests extend to the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology and non-accelerator particle physics. He has established the highest observatory in the world at Hanle, Ladakh, at an altitude of 15,000 ft for astronomical and astrophysical observation, inventing the 'leaky-box' and 'nested-leaky box' models that are extensively used to interpret the observations of cosmic rays. He is conducting experiments to probe violations of the inverse square law of gravity at sub-millimeter scales that are predicted by 'string-motivated' theories. His paper describing the role of neutrinos and other weakly interacting particles in the formation of galaxies and as dark matter has been chosen by The Physical Review in its selection of seminal papers of the century.
Other Contributions: Professor Cowsik was the Director, Indian Institute of Astrophysics for 11 years, when it grew to international prominence with over 80 scientists working in different branches of space physics.
Awards and Honours: Professor Cowsik was the recipient of the Vikram Sarabhai Award (Hari Om Prerit) (1981), SS Bhatnagar Prize (1984), NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award (1986), Sir CV Raman Memorial Lecture Award (1996), INSA Vainu Bappu Memorial Medal (1997), SN Bose Birth Centenary Award (2001), Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture Award (2002) of INSA, Padma Shri by Government of India (2002) and MP Birla Award (2007). He is a Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, USA and a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, National Academy of Science (India), Allahabad, Indian Geophysical Union and The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS). He is also a Member of the International Astronomical Union and a Life Member, American Physical Society.