Ramanath Cowsik, Ph.D., professor of physics and director of the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, received the 2009 O'Ceallaigh Medal for his "outstanding contributions to cosmic ray physics."
He received the award during the opening ceremony of the 31st biennial International Cosmic Ray Conference, held July 7-15 in Lodz, Poland.
The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics' Cosmic Ray Commission and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies sponsor the award, which is named for the late Cormac O'Ceallaigh, a physics professor at the Dublin Institute who made many seminal contributions in the field of cosmic rays. He was considered one of the most distinguished physicists in Ireland.
First awarded in 1999, the O'Ceallaigh Medal recognizes significant contributions to the field of cosmic ray physics over an extended career.
Cowsik's scientific contributions span over four decades. Born in Nagpur, India, he taught and did research for more than 40 years at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. While at the Tata Institute, he served as director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) for 11 years prior to joining WUSTL's physics faculty in 2002 as a professor.
Considered one of the world's pre-eminent astrophysicists, he has made numerous major contributions to cosmic ray astrophysics.
"For many who measure the elemental and isotopic composition of cosmic rays near earth and use these measurements to infer properties of the cosmic ray source and the cosmic ray transport in the galaxy, Ram's enduring contribution has been the formulation of the 'leaky-box model,'" said Martin H. Israel, Ph.D., professor of physics and a fellow in the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences.
"Although that model was first put forward in Physical Review 42 years ago, it remains the basis for substantial work today," Israel said.
Considered the father of astroparticle physics, Cowsik has made several seminal and lasting contributions to neutrino physics, gravitation and almost every aspect of high-energy astrophysics.
He has contributed to the understanding of particle physics, cosmology and gamma and X-ray astronomy.
While the IIA's director for 11 years, he was instrumental in building the world's highest ground-based observatory in Hanle, Ladakh, in the Himalayas.