Ray Jayawardhana

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Ray Jayawardhana Petunia
Fields Astrophysics, popular science
Education Harvard University,
Yale University
St. John's College, Nugegoda
Known for exoplanets, brown dwarfs, planet formation, popular science
Notable awards Guggenheim Fellowship (2014), Rutherford Memorial Medal (2013), Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics (2008-2014), CSWA Science in Society Book Award (2014), Steacie Fellowship (2009), Steacie Prize (2009), Ontario Early Researcher Award (2006), Vainu Bappu Gold Medal (2004), American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award (2003)

Ray Jayawardhana is the Dean of Science and a Professor of physics & astronomy at York University. An award-winning science writer, his primary research areas include the formation and early evolution of stars, brown dwarfs and planets. .[1]

As a graduate student at Harvard, he led one of the two teams that discovered a dusty disk around the young star HR 4796A with a large inner hole, possibly carved out by planet formation processes.[2] His group has played a key role in establishing that young brown dwarfs undergo a T Tauri phase, similar to young Sun-like stars, with evidence for dusty disks and signatures of disk accretion and outflow. Disks have now also been found around sub-brown dwarfs or planemos. In September 2008, he and his collaborators reported the first direct image and spectroscopy of a likely extra-solar planet around a normal star.[3]

Jayawardhana is the author of Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe (Scientific American / Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life beyond our Solar System (Princeton and HarperCollins, 2011) and Star Factories: The Birth of Stars and Planets (Steck Vaughn, 2001). His popular articles have appeared in many publications, including The Economist, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Scientific American, New Scientist, Sky and Telescope, Muse and Science. He is also known for organizing innovative science outreach programs such as the CoolCosmos astronomy poster campaign on the Toronto Transit Commission.[4]


Jayawardhana was born and raised in Sri Lanka. He was educated at the St. John's College, Nugegoda[5] and Royal College Colombo and pursued his higher education in the United States. He received his BS degree from Yale in 1994 and his PhD from Harvard in 2000.[6] He was a Miller Research Fellow at UC Berkeley[7] for two years and an assistant professor at the University of Michigan for two years, before moving to Toronto. While serving as senior advisor on science engagement to the president of the University of Toronto, he founded the Science Leadership Program to enhance the communications and leadership skills of academic scientists.[8]

In early 2014, Ray Jayawardhana was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Science at York University.[9]


Jayawardhana was named Canada Research Chair in Observational Astrophysics in 2008. He held a E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship,[10] "awarded to enhance the career development of outstanding and highly promising university faculty who are earning a strong international reputation for original research",[11] from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, presented by Prime Minister Stephen Harper at a ceremony in Ottawa on March 16, 2009.[12] He has also been named to Canada's Top 40 Under 40.[13] Main-belt asteroid 4668 Rayjay is named after him.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Lafrenière, David; Jayawardhana, Ray; van Kerkwijk, Marten H. (2008). "Direct Imaging and Spectroscopy of a Planetary-Mass Candidate Companion to a Young Solar Analog". The Astrophysical Journal. 689: L153. Bibcode:2008ApJ...689L.153L. doi:10.1086/595870. 
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "Online edition of Daily News - Features". Dailynews.lk. 2004-04-13. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  6. ^ "Profile : Ray Jayawardhana". Science.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  7. ^ "Astronomers Discover Edge-on Protoplanetary Disk in Quadruple Star System". Noao.edu. 2002-01-07. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  8. ^ [4]
  9. ^ "YFile » New dean appointed for the Faculty of Science". Yfile.news.yorku.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  10. ^ "Past Winner: 2009 E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship". Nserc-crsng.gc.ca. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  11. ^ "NSERC - E.W.R. Steacie - About the Award". Nserc-crsng.gc.ca. 2013-04-19. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  12. ^ "Prime Minister of Canada - Speeches". http://pm.gc.ca. 2009-03-16. Retrieved 2014-03-03.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  13. ^ [5]

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