Prize Recipient

Devarajan Thirumalai

Devarajan Thirumalai
University of Texas, Austin


"For the development of analytical and computational approaches to soft-matter systems and their application to the transitional behavior of supercooled fluids and glasses, folding dynamics of protein and RNA biopolymers, and functioning of molecular motors."


Dr. Devarajan Thirumalai completed his undergraduate degree in 1977 at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota  in 1982. He is the Collie-Welch Professor and Chair of the chemistry department at the University of Texas at Austin. He uses theory and simulations to describe the peculiarities of the dynamics of liquid to glass transition, to develop methods rooted in polymer physics, and to elucidate the principles of protein and RNA folding and stepping kinetics of motors. More recently, his focus is on developing physical models and theories to understand collective motion of cells, with a particular emphasis on tumor growth. Thirumalai is a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Biophysical Society, and the American Physical Society. He is also the recipient of the American Chemical Society Theoretical Chemistry Award from the Physical Chemistry Division, and has been a recipient of the Oesper Award from the University of Cincinnati, and a Humboldt Research Award for Senior U.S. Scientists. He is the visiting Weston Professor at the Weizmann Institute, and is a Korea Institute for Advanced Studies scholar. Thirumalai sits on the advisory committee at the Simons Center in the National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

Selection Committee:

2019 Selection Committee Members: Janice Reutt-Robey (Chair), Mary Jane Schultz (Vice-Chair), Gilbert Nathanson, Emily Carter