Ray Jayawardhana, the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts & Sciences and professor of astronomy, has been awarded the 2018 Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach by the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes the humanitarian aspect of physics and physicists created through public lectures and public media, teaching, research, or science related activities. Jayawardhana will deliver an invited lecture at the APS meeting in Boston on March 5.
The selection committee cited Jayawardhana’s “far-reaching, multi-faceted and impactful contributions as an educator and academic leader,” noting that he has authored popular books and articles about physics for adults and children, made frequent public speaking and media appearances, developed innovative outreach programs, and founded the Science Leadership Program at the University of Toronto.
A graduate of Yale and Harvard, Jayawardhana uses many of the world’s largest telescopes to explore planetary origins and diversity. He is co-author of more than 125 papers in scientific journals. His popular book “Strange New Worlds” was the basis for “The Planet Hunters” television documentary on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; his book “Neutrino Hunters” won the Canadian Science Writers Association’s Book Award. His articles have appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Scientific American, among others.
Jayawardhana’s other honors include a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe fellowship from Harvard and the Rutherford Medal in Physics from the Royal Society of Canada.
The Nicholson Medal was established in 1994 and is administered by the APS Forum on Outreach and Engaging the Public. Jayawardhana is the second Cornell faculty member to receive the honor; the first was physicist Yuri Orlov in 1995. Last year’s awardee was Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
This article also appeared in the Cornell Chronicle.