Asantha Cooray

Picture of Asantha Cooray
Professor, Physics & Astronomy
School of Physical Sciences
B.S., MIT, 1997, Physics
B.S., MIT, 1997, Mathematics
B.S., MIT, 1997, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
M.S., MIT, 1997, Earth and Planetary Sciences
M.S., University of Chicago, 1998, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2001, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Phone: (949) 824-6832
University of California, Irvine
4186 Frederick Reines Hall
Mail Code: 4575
Irvine, CA 92697
Research Interests
Cosmology, Early Universe, Cosmic Microwave Background, Cosmic Infrared Background, Large Scale Structure
Academic Distinctions
NASA Group Achievement Award for Herschel-SPIRE 2012

NASA Group Achievement Award for CIBER 2014

NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award 2007

Chancellor's Fellow, UC Irvine 2007-2010

UCI Chancellor's Award for Excellence and Distinguished Fostering of Undergraduate Research 2007

Sherman Fairchild Senior Research Fellow, Caltech, 2001
Research Fellow, University of Chicago (2001)

Sherman Fairchild Senior Research Fellow, Caltech (2001-2005)
Research Abstract
Professor Cooray received his bachelor's degrees in Physics, Earth Sciences, and Mathematics from MIT in 1997 and his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from University of Chicago in 2001. He was the Sherman Fairchild Senior Research Fellow at Caltech before joining the UCI Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2005 as an Assistant Professor. Prof. Cooray was promoted to an Associate Professor with tenure in 2007 and a Full Professor in 2010.

As a cosmologist, Prof. Cooray's research attempts to understand how the Universe turned out to be the way it is from a primordial soup of particles just after the big bang to galaxies, stars, and planets we see today. He is actively participating in several NASA and European Space Agency missions to study the early universe with cosmic microwave background radiation, to search for first stars and galaxies with rocket-borne infrared cameras, and working out challenges and techniques to detect relic gravitational waves from the big bang present today. Prof. Cooray's current research is primarily funded by NASA and NSF. His website (see URL above) has details of his current research activities, his group, publications, among others.

Undergraduate students from Mathematics, Computer Science, Physics and related fields are strongly encouraged to join Prof. Cooray's group for research activities in cosmology and astrophysics. Current and past students have published research papers in journals and are now conducting graduate studies elsewhere. In general, you must be a sophomore or higher and have some background in using computers (some programming experience is highly desirable, but not a necessary requirement). Projects are available for both pay and credit during the academic year and for pay during the summer. These projects generally require at least a one year of commitment, part-time during the academic year and full-time during the summer. Physics juniors are encouraged to write and publish their research project as a senior thesis under the campus honors porgram. Similar opportunities to complete senior projects are available for students majoring in computer science departments involving projects in computational astrophysics. If interested, please contact Prof. Cooray at for details. Research opportunities for graduate students are limited and mostly available only for graduate students in the Physics department. If interested, please visit Prof. Cooray's webiste for details on any new vacancies that might be available.
Over $5M in research and educational grants since 2005 from NSF, NASA, Department of Education, among other sources.
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