Indian physicist Ashoke Sen, who earned his doctorate at Stony Brook University, received the first-ever Fundamental Physics Prize for his contribution to string theory. The prize, founded in July 2012 by Russian physicist and Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner, awards Sen $3 million, the world’s most lucrative prize in physics. Eight other scientists from the United States and France also won the award in its inaugural year.
Sen is a particle physicist who works at a laboratory in the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, which is located in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. He earned his bachelor’s of science degree in 1975 from the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, and his master’s in 1978 from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur before completing his doctoral work in physics at Stony Brook.
Sen has made a number of major original contributions to the subject of string theory, including his landmark paper on strong-weak coupling duality or S-duality, which was influential in changing the course of research in the field. He pioneered the study of unstable D-branes and made the famous Sen conjecture about open string tachyon condensation. He has also co-authored many important papers on string field theory. His current research interests are centered around the attractor mechanism and the precision counting of microstates for black holes in string theory. Of his nearly 200 research papers, as many as 47 papers have more than 100 citations each.