Dean Emeritus Katepalli Sreenivasan’s list of laurels grows longer

His latest is the American Physical Society’s 2022 Leo P. Kadanoff Prize.


It was not that long ago that the American Physical Society (APS) honored Katepalli Sreenivasan — NYU Tandon’s Dean Emeritus and Eugene Kleiner Professor for Innovation in Mechanical Engineering, CAS Professor of Physics, and Courant Professor of Mathematics — with its 2020 Fluid Dynamics Prize for his fundamental contributions to fluid dynamics, especially turbulence from quantum to astrophysical scales. Now, the organization, comprising 55,000 physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry, has awarded him the 2022 Leo P. Kadanoff Prize, bestowed upon scientists whose theoretical, experimental, or computational achievements have opened new vistas for statistical and or nonlinear physics. 

While Sreenivasan’s work is largely fundamental — he is most interested in the principles behind things, he has said — it has practical, real-world implications for improving aircraft design, gas turbine engines, energy distribution, weather prediction, and more. 

He has devoted much of his research to the study of turbulence and laminarization (in which a fluid flow returns to being smooth rather than remaining in its original state of turbulence). Turbulence is extremely useful, he has asserted, because without the mixing of various things like heat and cold, or oxygen and fuel in the case of combustion, life on Earth would not exist.

His studies have gone well beyond Earth, however; he also directs the NYU Abu Dhabi Space Science Center.  He and his collaborators have made contributions to helioseismology, the study of the structure and dynamics of the Sun, and he was part of a team that first tracked the precise rotational patterns of Sun-like stars, an important step in ascertaining exactly how stars function, and gaining needed insight into their magnetic fields. More recently, he was part of a team that used simulations to describe the molecular kinetics in the atmosphere of Callisto, the second-largest moon of the planet Jupiter.

The Kadanoff Prize joins a lengthy list of Sreenivasan’s honors that includes membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences,  the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Accademia dei Lincei, the Indian Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), and the African Academy of Science, as well as the Guggenheim Fellowship, the UNESCO Medal for Promoting International Scientific Cooperation and World Peace from the World Heritage Centre, and others far too numerous to list. Additionally, he is a former director of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, in Trieste, Italy, and one of the rare few individuals to hold the NYU distinction of being named a University Professor, a title conferred upon scholars whose work is interdisciplinary and reflects exceptional breadth.

“This latest honor exemplifies Dean Emeritus Sreenivasan as the giant upon whose shoulders everyone stands in his field of study,” Dean Jelena Kovačević said. “Adding to his list of accolades is well-deserved, and is overshadowed only by the care and concern he has demonstrated for students, faculty, and staff at Tandon and everywhere he has ever spent time.” 

The award will be presented at the APS March Meeting 2022, to be held in Chicago, where he will also deliver an invited talk on the International Freedom of Scientists.

You can read some of Sreenivasan’s noteworthy papers: