Abhay Ashtekar is Evan Pugh Professor of Physics at Penn State, where he also holds the Eberly Chair. He founded the Institute of Gravitation and the Cosmos and directed it from 1993 till 2021. Before joining Penn State, he held the Erastus Franklin Holden Professorship at Syracuse University and was Professeur (Chaire de Gravitation) at Paris VI.
Ashtekar’s scientific work focuses on theoretical aspects of general relativity, cosmology and quantum gravity. He initiated the Loop Quantum Gravity program by introducing new variables to simplify Einstein’s equations and played a leadership role in developing a quantum theory of Riemannian geometry to describe the atomic structure of space-time and applying it to account for black hole entropy. He then analyzed the very early universe using Loop Quantum Cosmology. He has made important contributions to the study of the asymptotic structure of space-time and gravitational waves in full non-linear general relativity, and introduced a new quasi-local framework to describe black hole horizons that has been widely used in numerical simulations and in the analysis of quantum properties of black holes.
Ashtekar is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science, and one of only 51 Honorary Fellows of the Indian Academy of Science. He received the Einstein Prize of the American Physical Society, its highest honor in the field of Gravitation, and the senior Forschungspreis of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation of Germany. He was awarded Doctor Rerum Naturalium Honoris Causa by the Friedrich-Schiller Universität, Jena, Germany, and by the Université de Aix-Marseille II, France. He has held the Krammer Visiting Chair at the University of Utrecht and the Sir C. V. Raman Chair at the Indian Academy of Science. He is a past President of the International Society for General Relativity and Gravitation and has served as the Editor in Chief for the volume General Relativity and Gravitation: A Centennial Perspective, commissioned to commemorate 100 years of General Relativity. He is a past Chair of the Gravitational Physics Division of the American Physical Society.
Ashtekar has given series of Distinguished Lectures in Canada, France, Germany, India, Israel, Mexico Uruguay and the US. He features in several outreach videos prepared by professionals which, together, have had well over 500,000 views. His profile was featured in New York Times in the Scientists at Work series.