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Meet the Dean

Jayanth BanavarDistinguished Physicist Jayanth R. Banavar, whose research frequently involves interdisciplinary collaboration with the life sciences, is dean of the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS).

Prior to his appointment in 2011, Banavar led the Department of Physics at Pennsylvania State University for 12 years. Much of his recent work has applied the techniques of statistical physics to solve interdisciplinary problems, explaining, for example, why biological molecules tend to curl up into helices, or to explain why coral reefs support such a rich biodiversity. Frequently, the goal has been to identify an underlying mathematical principle to provide an elegant explanation of natural phenomena.

“With an integrated scientific college, Maryland is well positioned to prepare the next generation of scientists for the types of challenges they are likely to encounter,” says Banavar. “While strength in core disciplines is essential, the lines between them will continue to blur, and we need to educate a generation of creative researchers who can thrive in an interdisciplinary environment.”

Prior to joining Maryland, Banavar served as Distinguished Professor and George A. and Margaret M. Downsbrough Department Head of Physics at Pennsylvania State University. He received a bachelor of science with honors and a master of science in physics from Bangalore University. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh. A fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, he has more than 250 publications in refereed journals, 11 book chapters, a book he co-edited and three patents.

Hear Dean Banavar discuss the geometry of life on the Academic Minute.