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Ray Jayawardhana

Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Professor


Ray Jayawardhana joined Cornell University in September 2018 as the Harold Tanner Dean of Arts and Sciences and professor of astronomy. A graduate of Yale and Harvard, he uses many of the world’s largest telescopes to explore planetary origins and diversity.

Jayawardhana is co-author of more than 130 papers in scientific journals. He is also a writer whose articles have appeared in publications including The Economist, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic and Scientific American. His research and writing have led to numerous accolades, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Radcliffe fellowship from Harvard and the Rutherford Medal in Physics from the Royal Society of Canada.

His book “Strange New Worlds” was the basis for “The Planet Hunters” television documentary on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.; his book “Neutrino Hunters” won the Canadian Science Writers Association’s Book Award.

He served as the Dean of Science at York University, following 10 years on the faculty at the University of Toronto. Prior to that, he held a faculty position at the University of Michigan and a Miller Research Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a Ph.D. degree in astronomy from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Science degree in astronomy and physics from Yale University.

An avid traveler, he has visited more than 55 countries and all seven continents. His travels, for research and writing, have included numerous visits to mountaintop observatories in Chile and Hawaii, a meteorite collecting expedition in Antarctica, a parabolic flight with the European Agency, a solar eclipse chase in western Mongolia and a descent into a South African mine with geobiologists.


  • Astronomy
  • Carl Sagan Institute


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