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Your faculty and staff news since 1965
March 14, 2005
Volume 40, Number 8

Kenkre awarded top faculty honor
Colleagues nominate physicist 50th Annual Research Lecturer


By Karen Wentworth

V.M. Nitant Kenkre is the first physicist in 18 years to be selected UNM's Annual Research Lecturer. Photo by Greg Johnston.
Physics Professor V.M. (Nitant) Kenkre has been chosen the Annual Research Lecturer, the highest honor UNM bestows on faculty. Kenkre was nominated by colleagues and Vice President for Research and Economic Development Terry Yates.

He delivers the research lecture “Movers and Shakers in Physics and Biology” on Tuesday, April 12, at 7 p.m. in the Continuing Education auditorium.

Kenkre joined the physics department as professor of theoretical physics in 1984. He has served as director of UNM’s Center for Advanced Studies and created the Consortium of the Americas for Interdisciplinary Science, developed to attract visiting scientists from Latin America to the UNM campus.

Kenkre’s colleagues call him a brilliant researcher and say he is unusually precise and incisive in his thinking.

A former student, Professor Paul E. Parris, now chair of physics at the University of Missouri, wrote in his letter of recommendation “….It became clear to me as a graduate student that Nitant was a scientist of the highest caliber and standards of excellence, with enormous creative powers and broad interests, not just in matters of science, but also in the deep philosophical, aesthetic, and intellectual questions with which he continually engaged his graduate students and postdocs. It was also clear to me that Nitant was a great teacher in the grand sense of the word.”

Kenkre’s work is internationally recognized for making seminal contributions to theoretical condensed matter physics and statistical physics.

Throughout his career he has been noted for both the fundamental and interdisciplinary nature of his research. He recently applied mathematical models to the theory and spread of epidemics. In addition to writing several books, he has authored more than two hundred scientific articles.

Kenkre has these remarks on his personal Web site: “To be blessed with a sharp focus in life is given to only a few in this world. I am not one of them. This allows me to do only ‘sketches’ rather than finished perfections in whatever I undertake. Clearly, this is unfortunate. It is also fortunate. I am freed of the need to concentrate. I can hang loose and dip into that which pleases at a given moment.”

An elected fellow of the American Physical Society, he has interests in visual art, philosophy, comparative religion and literature.

“I am happy to be chosen for this honor and thankful to those who were involved in the selection process. Much exciting work remains to be done in crossing borders, whether in disciplines or nations, and my colleagues and I are looking forward to continued efforts.”