Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar


Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar is an eminent theoretical physicist whose pioneering work is helping to decode the baffling laws of quantum physics. Currently, he serves as the director of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS-TIFR), Bangalore. His work on a simplified version of string theory led to the discovery of Cumrun Vafa the Gopakumar - Vafa duality and Gopakumar - Vafa invariants. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards and recognitions including the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award for Physical Sciences in 2009.

"Doing science is fun and we shouldn't lose sight of that (or horror, destroy it!) while we put in place institutional structures."


After securing the first rank in the JEE exams, Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar joined the integrated M.Sc. program in Physics at IIT Kanpur in 1987 and completed the same in 1992. He not only excelled academically but also outshined his batchmates as a long-distance athlete, weightlifter and a footballer.

He then joined the Ph.D. program at the Princeton University, USA, under the supervision of the 2004 Physics Nobel Laureate Dr. David Gross and completed it in 1997. After a post-doc at Harvard University, he returned to India and joined Harish-Chandra Research Institute as an Associate Professor in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, he also held a visiting membership at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Prof. Gopakumar is widely known for his work on topological string theory. His research has been primarily focused towards understanding the gauge-string duality, which connects string theory to topics such as quark soups. He has also worked on topological string theory, non-commutative field theories often with the recurring, unifying theme of understanding the large N limit of gauge theories. He is a founding member of the Global Young Academy, which grew out of an initiative by TWAS. He is also a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and the Indian National Science Academy. Since 2015, Prof. Rajesh Gopakumar has been serving as the Director of ICTS-TIFR.

Achievements and Honors

  • Recipient of Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2019 from IIT Kanpur.
  • The World Academy of Sciences Award (TWAS) for Physical Sciences, 2013.
  • G. D. Birla Science Award, 2013.
  • Fellow of the Global Young Academy of Scientists, 2010.
  • Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in Physical Sciences, CSIR, Govt. of India, 2009.
  • Wick Prize of the ICTP, 2006.
  • Swarnajayanthi Fellowship, 2006.
  • B. M. Birla Science Prize in Physics, 2004.