Shrinivas Kulkarni

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Shrinivas R. Kulkarni
Shrinivas R. Kulkarni (2016)
Born October 4, 1956
Kurundwad, Marashtra, India


  • Interstellar Medium
  • Pulsars
  • Millisecond Pulsars,
  • Brown Dwarf
  • Soft Gamma-ray Repeaters
  • Gamma-ray Bursts
  • Optical Transients
Institutions California Institute of Technology
Alma mater
Doctoral advisor
Notable awards
  • FRS[1] (2001)
  • US NAS (2003)
  • Indian Academy of Sciences (2012)
  • Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016)
  • Helen B. Warner Prize (1991)
  • NSF Waterman Prize (1992)
  • Jansky prize (2002)
  • Dan David prize (2017)

Shrinivas R. Kulkarni (born 1956) is an astronomer born in India.[2] He is currently a professor of astronomy and planetary science at California Institute of Technology,[3] and the director of Caltech Optical Observatory (COO) at California Institute of Technology who oversees Palomar and Keck among other telescopes.[3] The success of his astronomical research is seen by 63 Nature Letters, 7 Science Letters, and total of 479 refereed scientific articles that bear his name by the end of 2015 according to ADS.


Shrinivas R. Kulkarni was born in a small town of Kurundwad on October 4, 1956 in southern Maharashtra as the one of four children of the surgeon Dr. R. H. Kulkarni and Vimala Kulkarni, and received his early education in Hubballi, Karnataka India.[2][4][5][6] He obtained his MS in Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1978, and his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1983.[3] and became a faculty member at California Institute of Technology in 1987[3]

He is a member of 4 national academies around the globe. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, London, in 2001,[1][7] a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences in 2003,[8] an honorary fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences in 2012,[9] and a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences on September 12, 2016.[10][11]

He has received many awards including the NSF's Alan T. Waterman Award in 1992,[12] Helen B. Warner Prize from the American Astronomical Society in 1991,[13] Jansky Prize in 2002[14] and Dan David Prize in 2017.[15][16]

He has mentored 64 young scholars by the end of 2016 according to his website. He has been the Jury Chair for the Infosys Prize for the discipline of Physical Sciences since 2009.[17] Kulkarni is the brother of Sunanda Kulkarni, Sudha Murthy, and Jaishree Deshpande.[4][6][18]

Key Discoveries[edit]

Kulkarni is known for making key discoveries that open new sub-fields within astronomy, using wide range of wavelength in observation. ADS shows that his papers cover following fields: (1) HI absorption studies of Milky Way Galaxy, (2) pulsars, millisecond pulsars, and globular cluster pulsars, (3) brown dwarfs and other sub-stellar objects, (4) soft gamma-ray repeaters, (5) gamma-ray bursts, and (6) optical transients. He made significant contributions in these sub-fields of astronomy.

He started off his career as a radio astronomer. He studied Milky Way Galaxy using HI absorption under the guidance of his advisor Carl Heiles, and observed its four arms.[19] The review articles he wrote with Carl Heiles have been highly cited in the field of interstellar medium.[20][21]

He discovered the first millisecond pulsar called PSR B1937+21[22] with Donald Backer and colleagues, while he was a graduate student. In 1986, he found the first optical counterpart of binary pulsars,[23] while he was a Millikan Fellow at California Institute of Technology. He was instrumental in discovery of the first globular cluster pulsar in 1987[24] using a supercomputer.

With Dale Frail at NRAO and Toshio Murakami and his colleagues at ISAS (predecessor of JAXA that was led by Yasuo Tanaka at that time) Kulkarni showed that soft gamma-ray repeaters are neutron stars associated with supernova remnants.[25][26] This discovery eventually led to the understanding that neutron stars with extremely high magnetic field called magnetars are the soft gamma-ray repeaters.[27]

Caltech-NRAO team which he led showed in 1997 that gamma-ray bursts came from extra-galactic sources,[28] and identified optical counterparts.[29] Their research initiated the detailed studies of the sources of gamma-ray bursts along with the European team led by Jan van Paradijs.

He was also a member of the Caltech team that observed the first irrefutable brown dwarf in 1994 that orbited around a star called Gliese 229.[30]

His recent work involved Palomar Transient Factory which has succeeded in identifying the new groups of optical transients such as superluminous supernova,[31] calcium-rich supernova,[32] and luminous red nova.[33][34]


  1. ^ a b "Shrinivas Kulkarni". The Royal Society. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Kembhavi, Ajit (2001). "An accomplished observer". Frontline. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Shrinivas R. (Shri) Kulkarni". Caltech Geology and Planetary Science. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Karnataka Online Teachers Data Base". Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences Karnataka. 2012. 
  5. ^ "A star called Kulkarni". August 19, 2003. 
  6. ^ a b Kamala Bhatt (July 15, 2002). "What Went Wrong?". 
  7. ^ "The Royal Society inducts Shrinivas Kulkarni". 2001. 
  8. ^ "Member Directory". National Academy of Science, US. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Honorary Fellows". Indian Academy of Science. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  10. ^ "KNAW kiest zestien nieuwe leden" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Shrnivas Kulkarni". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved March 25, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Alan T. Waterman Award Recipients, 1976 - present". American Astronomical Society. Retrieved November 29, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Shrinivas Kulkarni received the 1991 Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.", Physics Today, 44: f129, 1991, Bibcode:1991PhT....44f.129. 
  14. ^ "Jansky Lectureship". August 24, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Caltech Astronomer Receives 2017 Dan David Prize". February 10, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Laureates 2017". Retrieved March 27, 2017. 
  17. ^ "Jury Chairs 2009". Infosys Science Foundation. Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  18. ^ "Two daughters who made India proud". Retrieved March 29, 2017. 
  19. ^ Kulkarni, Shrinivas R. (1983). Studies of galactica HI in 21-centimeter absorption (Ph. D. Thesis: UC Berkeley). Berkeley, California. Bibcode:1984PhDT.........4K. 
  20. ^ Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.; Heiles, Carl (1988). Verschuur, G. L.; Kellerman, K.I., eds. Neutral hydrogen and the diffuse interstellar medium. in Galactic and Extragalactic Radio Astronomy. New York: Springer-Verlag. pp. 95–153. 
  21. ^ Kulkarni, Shrinivas R.; Heiles, Carl (1987). The atomic component. in Interstellar Processes; Proceedings of the Symposium, Grand Teton National Park, WY, July 1-7,1986. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co. Bibcode:1987ASSL..134...87K. 
  22. ^ Backer, D. C.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Heiles, C.; Davis, M. M.; Goss, W. M. (1982), "A millisecond pulsar", Nature, 300: 615, Bibcode:1982Natur.300..615B 
  23. ^ Kulkarni, S. R. (1986), "Optical Identification of Binary Pulsars - Implication for Magnetic Field Decay in Neutron Stars", Astrophysical Journal, 306: L85, Bibcode:1986ApJ...306L..85K 
  24. ^ Lyne, A. G.; Brinklow, A.; Middleditch, J.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Backer, D. C.; Clifton, T. R. (1987), "The Discovery of a Millisecond Pulsar in the Globular Cluster M28)", Nature, 328: 399, Bibcode:1987Natur.328..399L 
  25. ^ Kulkarni, S. R.; Frail, D. A. (1993), "Identification of a supernova remnant coincident with the soft gamma-ray repeater SGR 1806-20", Nature, 365: 33, Bibcode:1993Natur.365...33K 
  26. ^ Murakami, T.; Tanaka, Y.; Kulkarni, S. R.; et al. (1994), "X-ray dentification of a supernova the soft gamma-ray repeater 1806-20", Nature, 368: 127, Bibcode:1994Natur.368..127K 
  27. ^ Kulkarni, S. R.; Thompson, Christopher (1998), "Neutron Stars: A star powered by magnetism", Nature, 393: 215, Bibcode:1998Natur.393..215K 
  28. ^ Metzgar, M. R.; Djorgovski, S. G.; Kulkarni, S. R.; et al. (1997), "Spectral constraints on the redshift of the optical counterpart to the gamma-ray burst of 8 May 1997", Nature, 387: 878, Bibcode:1997Natur.387..878M 
  29. ^ Djorgovski, S. G.; Metzgar, M. R.; Kulkarni, S. R.; et al. (1997), "The optical counterpart to the gamma-ray burst GRB970508", Nature, 387: 867, Bibcode:1997Natur.387..876D 
  30. ^ Nakajima, T.; Oppenheimer, B. R.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Golimowski, D. A.; Matthews, K.; Durrance, S. (1995), "Discovery of a Cool Brown Dwarf", Nature, 378: 463, Bibcode:1995Natur.378..463N 
  31. ^ Quimby, R. M.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Kasliwal, M. M.; et al. (2011), "Hydrogen-poor super luminous stellar explosions", Nature, 474: 487, Bibcode:2011Natur.474..487Q 
  32. ^ Kasliwal, M. M.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Arcavi, I.; et al. (2012), "Calcium-Rich Transients in the Remote Outskerts of Galaxies", Astrophysical Journal, 755: 161, Bibcode:2012ApJ...755..161K 
  33. ^ Rau, A.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Ofek, E. O.; Yan, L. (2007), "Spitzer Observations of the New Luminous Red Nova M85 OT2006-1", Astrophysical Joural, 659: 1536, Bibcode:2007ApJ...659.1539R 
  34. ^ Kasliwal, M. M.; Kulkarni, S. R.; Arcavi, I.; et al. (2011), "PTF 10fqs: A Luminous Red Nova in the Spiral Galaxy Messier 99", Nature, 730: 134, Bibcode:2012ApJ...755..161K 

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