Atish Dabholkar, a theoretical physicist from India, has been appointed as the new director of Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy.
He is currently the head of ICTP’s high energy, cosmology and astroparticle physics section. He joined the centre in 2014 on secondment from Sorbonne Université and the National Center for Scientific Research, where he has been a research director since 2007. Mr. Dabholkar will take up his duties as ICTP director with the rank of Assistant Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). He will succeed Fernando Quevedo, who has led the centre since 2009.
“It’s an honour and a great responsibility to be chosen as ICTP’s next director. ICTP is a one-of-a-kind institution with a very high level of research and a unique global mission for international cooperation through science. It was envisioned as an international hub for excellence in science and as an anchor to build scientific capacity and a culture of science around the globe. This vision remains valid today even after five decades, but needs to be implemented keeping in mind changing realities and priorities,” he said in a statement.
Born in 1963, Mr. Dabholkar completed his school education at Gargoti in Kolhapur district. He is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. He got a Ph.D in theoretical physics from Princeton University, followed by postdoctoral and research positions at Rutgers University, Harvard University, and California Institute of Technology. Until 2010, he was a professor of theoretical physics at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, and has been a visiting professor at Stanford University and a visiting scientist at CERN.
Mr. Dabholkar is well-known for his research on string theory and quantum black holes. “Research at these new frontiers is an ongoing quest for a more complete and unified formulation of the laws of nature. The work of our founding director Abdus Salam on electroweak unification was an important milestone in this direction,” he said.
He has received many honours, including Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (2006). He is an elected member of the Indian Academy of Science and was awarded the IIM National Leadership Award as a ‘Young Leader in Science’ in 2007 by the President of India. In 2007, he received the Chair of Excellence Award from the National Research Agency (ANR) in France. Founded in 1964 by the late Nobel Laureate, Abdus Salam, ICTP has been a driving force behind global efforts to advance scientific expertise in the developing world. Each year, more than 6,000 scientists from around the world visit ICTP for its academic, training and sabbatical opportunities. It operates under a tripartite agreement between the Italian government, International Atomic Energy Agency, and the UNESCO. It is a UNESCO category 1 institute.