DR. CHANDRA WICKRAMASINGhE
Sunday October 10
Time: 15:35 - 16:45
Director of the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology, University of Buckingham; Honorary Professor, University of Buckingham; Visiting Professor, Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka; Board Member and Director of Research, Institute for the Study of Panspermia and Astroeconomics.
The ofesor pr Chandra Wickramasinghe was born in Sri Lanka in 1939 and educated at the Royal College of Colombo and then at the University of Ceylon. In 1960 he obtained a first-class honors degree in mathematics and won a Commonwealth scholarship to proceed to Trinity College, Cambridge. He began work at Cambridge on his PhD under the supervision of the late Sir Fred Hoyle, and published his first scientific paper in 1961. He obtained a Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1963 and was elected to Jesus College Cambridge in the same year. The following year he was appointed to the staff of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge. Here he began his pioneering work on the nature of interstellar dust, publishing many articles in this field that led to major paradigm shifts in astronomy. He published the first definitive book on interstellar grains in 1967. In 1973 he was awarded the highest doctorate in science from the University of Cambridge, the ScD. Chandra Wickramasinghe is recognized as a leading expert on interstellar material and the origins of life. He has made many important contributions in these fields, publishing more than 350 articles in major scientific journals, more than 75 in the journal Nature. In 1974 he first proposed the theory that dust in interstellar space and in comets was largely organic, a theory that has now been claimed.
Together with the late Sir Fred Hoyle, he received the Dag Hammarskjold International Gold Medal for Science in 1986. Chandra Wickramasinghe was a UNDP Consultant and Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka in 1982-84, and played a key role in the creation of Sri Lanka Institute of Fundamental Studies. In 1983/84 he was appointed founding director of the Institute for Fundamental Studies by President JR Jayawardene. In 1992 he was decorated by the President of Sri Lanka with the titular honor of Vidya Jyothi. He was awarded the International Sahabdeen Prize for Science in 1996.
In 1973 he was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Mathematical Physics at University College, Cardiff, being the youngest appointed professor at the University up to that time. He was responsible for starting an Astrophysics research group in Cardiff under the auspices of a new Department that was formed under his direction, the Department of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy. He remained as Head of this Department until 1989, at which time the Research School of Astronomy in Cardiff was considered one of the best in the UK. From 1989 to 1999, he served as Professor of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy at a recently structured School of Mathematics at Cardiff University in Wales. In 2000 he was appointed Director of the newly formed Cardiff Center for Astrobiology. In 2006 he retired from the Chair of Applied Mathematics and Astronomy, but continued as professor and director of the Cardiff Center for Astrobiology. In 2007 he was appointed Honorary Professor at the University of Glamorgan. He became Director of the Buckingham Center for Astrobiology in 2011 and is an Honorary Professor at the University.
He is an award-winning scholar and the author or co-author of more than 30 books and more than 350 scientific articles. He has had visiting professor appointments at a large number of universities around the world. In recognition of his extensive contributions to science and culture, he received an honorary doctorate from Soka University, Tokyo, Japan in 1996. He received a Doctor of Science degree (Honoris Causa) from Ruhuna University, Sri Lanka in 2004.
In addition to lecturing at universities around the world, he was the John Snow Memorial Professor and John Snow Medalist for the Association of Anesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland in 2004. In 2005 he was named in the first annual Asian Power 100, a list of the most influential Asians living in the UK.