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Meet Ray Jayawardhana - PhD

Johns Hopkins University
Ray Jayawardhana

Provost Ray Jayawardhana serves as the chief academic officer of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a Professor of Physics and Astronomy.  As Provost, he is responsible for advancing the University’s research, teaching and outreach mission, and partners closely with President Daniels to realize the ambitious goals of the Ten for One strategic plan. He oversees its nine schools as well as a number of interdisciplinary programs, academic centers and support functions. 

Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Jayawardhana served as the Harold Tanner Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University and the Hans A. Bethe Professor and professor of astronomy. As dean, Jayawardhana focused on strategic priorities in the areas of faculty renewal and support, research and creative excellence, academic innovation and student experience, and public engagement. On his watch, the College adopted a new undergraduate curriculum, introduced first-year advising seminars to all entering students, implemented the highly coveted Milstein Program in Technology & Humanity, tripled funding for Summer Experience Grants, and enhanced career development support. Jayawardhana also played a key role in establishing the new Cornell Brooks School of Public Policy. Before his time at Cornell, Jayawardhana served as the Dean of Science at York University, following a decade on the faculty at the University of Toronto, where he held a Canada Research Chair. 

Jayawardhana’s research explores the diversity, origins, and evolution of planetary systems as well as the formation of stars and brown dwarfs. In particular, his group uses the largest telescopes on the ground and in space to do ‘remote sensing’ of planets around other stars (“exoplanets”), with a view to investigating prospects for life in the universe. He is a core science team member for the James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRISS instrument, and his group leads a Gemini Observatory large program on high-resolution spectroscopy of exoplanet atmospheres.