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Abhay Ashtekar elected to the National Academy of Sciences

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Congratulations to Abhay Ashtekar on his election to the National Academy of Sciences

Ashtekar's seminal work on loop quantum gravity provides a quantum theory of spacetime and is a leading approach to solving one of the forefront problems of modern physics: how do we unify  general relativity and quantum physics? Ashtekar has been at the helm of this field, and has also helped develop a subfield known as loop quantum cosmology. His other forefront contributions span diverse topics in theoretical physics, including quantum-field theory, gauge theories, general relativity, and quantum gravity.

Abhay Ashtekar is the Director of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos and holder of the Eberly Chair at Penn State. Before joining Penn State he was the Erasthus Franklin Holden Professor of Physics at Syracuse University and Professeur (Chaire de Gravitation) at Paris VI. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1978. He was awarded Doctor Rerum Naturalium Honoris Causa by the Friedrich-Schiller Universitaet, Jena, Germany in 2005 and by the Universite de Aix-Marseille II, France in 2010. He is a past President of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation.

Ashtekar has given over 130 invited, plenary talks in various conferences and workshops world-wide. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and the American physical Society, and of only 51 Honorary Fellows of the Indian Academy of Sciences drawn from the International community. He won the Senior Forschungspreis of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He has held the Krammers Visiting Chair in Theoretical Physics at the University of Utrecht, The Netherlands and the Sir C. V. Raman Chair of the Indian Academy of Science. He Chairs the International Advisory Committee for LIGO-India, a joint scientific initiative between the United States and India.

Ashtekar's research has also been widely reported in semi-popular media, sometimes as cover stories. These include Nature, Science, The Economist, US News and World Report, New Scientist, Fox News, MSNBC, Spektrum, Bild der Wissenschaft, Geo, La Recherche, Volksprant as well as Australian, Asian and South American press. The New York Times published a feature article on him and his research. He also featured prominently in the German documentary Kosmos prepared in 2008 for the celebration of Max Planck's 150th birthday, and in a British documentary Before the Big Bang - Loop Cosmology Explained which has been seen by over 93,000 times.

Ashtekar had had a distinguished service record. In particular he served as a Senior Consultant on Science and Technology for the United Nations Development Office, on policy and oversight committees of the National Science Foundation, Max Planck Society of Germany and Science Research Council of the UK, and on Scientific Advisory Boards of institutes in Canada, Europe 
and India.

Ashtekar's Web-Page: