Kulkarni, a professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at California Institute of Technology, is a leading figure in time-domain astrophysics across the electromagnetic spectrum.
Among his notable achievements are the identifications of the host galaxies and supernovae associated with gamma ray bursts, the association of soft gamma-ray repeaters with neutron stars, and detailed studies of the full variety of supernovae, binary and millisecond pulsars, and magnetars.
In 2009 he led the construction of the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) a large area survey of the night sky in search of variable and transient phenomena that probed time varying phenomena in an automated manner. The survey has transformed our knowledge of the transient sky, turning up thousands of stellar explosions, supernovae and others. PTF revolutionized our understanding of the time varying sky locating many exotic classes of sources, including some only predicted theoretically.
Amongst the distinguished awards that Prof. Kulkarni has received are the NSF Alan T. Waterman Prize (1992); the Helen B. Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society (1991) and the Vainu Bappu Memorial Award, Astronomical Society of India (1990).
Prof. Kulkarni is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA and a fellow of the Royal Society, London and he holds an honorary doctorate from Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands.