Katepalli Sreenivasan

Professor of Physics & Mathematics; Principal Investigator

    1973 …2024

    Research activity per year

    Personal profile


    Katepalli Sreenivasan is President of New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering and Dean of NYU Engineering, and serves also as Executive Vice Provost for Science and Technology. Prior to coming to NYU in late 2009, he served as the director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, for nearly seven years, where he also held the Abdus Salam Professorship. Earlier, he taught at the University of Maryland for about a year and a half, as Distinguished University Professor, Glenn L. Martin Professor of Engineering and Professor of Physics, and as the Director of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology. He continued to keep the professorial appointment at U. MD while at Trieste. Prior to that, Sreeni taught at Yale since 1979 as a faculty member, first in the department of engineering and applied science and subsequently in several other capacities: he was the Harold W. Cheel Professor of Mechanical Engineering (1988-2002) and held joint appointments in the departments of physics, applied physics and mathematics; he was also the chair of the mechanical engineering department (1987-1992) and the acting chairman of the council of engineering (1989). His post-doctoral work included two years in Australia and a slightly smaller period of time at the Johns Hopkins University (where he taught for a term as a lecturer). He has been a visiting professor at Caltech, Rockefeller University, Cambridge University, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research, and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, among others. He is an Inaugural Fellow of the Texas Institute for Advanced Studies. 

    Honors and Awards

    Sreeni’s honors include: Humboldt fellowship; Guggenheim Fellowship; Otto Laporte Memorial Award of American Physical Society; TWAS Medal Lecture in Engineering Science; Distinguished Alumnus Award and Centennial Professorship of the Indian Institute of Science; Sir C.V. Raman Visiting Professorship of the Indian Academy of Sciences; the International Prize and Gold Medal in memory of Professors Modesto Panetti and Carlo Ferrari, Academia delle Scienze di Torino, Italy; National Order of Scientific Merit (the highest scientific honor) by the Brazilian Government and the Academy of Sciences; UNESCO Medal for Promoting International Scientific Cooperation and World Peace from the World Heritage Centre, Florence, Italy; President Dr. Zakir Husain Memorial Award from the Duty Society and the Indian Society of Applied and Industrial Mathematics; the Melvin Jones Fellow of the Lions Club (for humanitarian service); the Dwight Nicholson Medal of the American Physical Society for human outreach; the 2009 Nusselt-Reynolds Prize from the Assembly of World Conference on Experimental Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics and Thermodynamics; the 2009 AAAS award for International Scientific Cooperation; and the 2011 Multicultural Leadership Award of the National Diversity Council.

    Sreeni has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences; US National Academy of Engineering; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Accademia die Lincei, Rome; Honorary Membership, Accademia Torre e Tasso, Duino-Aurisina, Trieste, Italy; Indian Academy of Sciences: Indian National Science Academy; Indian National Engineering Academy; the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS); and the African Academy of Sciences, Within the US National Academies, Sreeni has served on the NAE Committee on Membership and the Mechanical Engineering Section (chair, vice chair, member) and the Mechanical Engineering Peer Committee (chair, vice chair, member); the NAS Class III Membership Committee; the Committee on Human Rights of the NAS, NAE, and IOM (now NAM); the NRC Committee on Condensed-Matter and Materials Physics; the NRC committee on Nonlinear Dynamics and Fractals; on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Editorial Board. He has served in many other editorial capacities (JFM, Phys. Fluids, etc), particularly at the American Physical Society (Phys. Rev E, PRL), and serves presently as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nonlinear Science. He is the founding-chair of the Topical Group in Statistical and Nonlinear Physics at the American Physical Society.

    Administrative Roles

    Among Sreeni’s administrative functions two are especially noteworthy. (1) As Director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, he rejuvenated many drying scientific and political connections to the Center and added new constituencies (with corresponding increase in funding). He was instrumental in establishing small but elite scientific centers in several countries (such as Romania, Pakistan, Morocco, etc), with new support generated from the local governments. As a means to that end, he worked with Presidents, Prime Ministers, Ministers and Ambassadors in several countries. (2) As President of the former Polytechnic University in Brooklyn, he oversaw its complex merger process with New York University. This effort involved matters of curricula, faculty, administration, legal permissions, adequate communication, etc. The merger is thought to be highly successful in its outcome. 


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