Priyamvada Natarajan is a professor in the departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University. She is noted for her work probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy, using gravitational lensing, and for developing models that describe the assembly and growth histories of black holes in the universe. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed book Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos (2016).
Born in Coimbatore, India into an academic family, she finished her schooling in New Delhi, India before coming to M.I.T. for undergraduate study. She has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics from M.I.T. and was also enrolled as a graduate student in the Program in Science, Technology & Society (STS) as well as the Program in Technology and Public Policy (TPP). She was awarded a Master of Science (S.M.) degree from M.I.T. STS.
She was awarded the Isaac Newton Fellowship to pursue graduate studies in astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, at the University of Cambridge, U.K. where she was a member of Trinity College. During her PhD, she was elected to a Title A Research Fellowship that she held from 1997 to 2003. She was the first woman in Astrophysics to be elected a fellow at Trinity. Prior to taking up her faculty position at Yale, she was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto, Canada.
Natarajan’s research work and original contributions to astrophysics have been recognized with many awards and honors (the full list is available on her CV), including the Emeline Conland Bigelow Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University; a Guggenheim Fellowship; the India Abroad Foundation’s “Face of the Future” Award; an India Empire NRI award for Achievement in the Sciences and the award for academic achievement from the Global Organization for the People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). She is an elected fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, the American Physical Society and the Explorers Club.
In addition to her faculty position at Yale, Natarajan holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship at the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark and an honorary professorship for life at the University of Delhi, India. She is an Affiliate at the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard University and and Associate Member of the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute in New York.