L Mahadevan

L Mahadevan

  • Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and of Physics
  • Faculty Dean of Mather House
  • Area Co-Chair for Applied Mathematics
  • Faculty Associate, Harvard University Center for the Environment
  • Participant, Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
  • Member, Kavli Institute for Bionano Science & Technology


Mahadevan was born in India, and following his undergraduate studies at IIT-Madras, obtained his PhD at Stanford University in 1995 under the tutelage of the mathematician Joseph Keller. After postdoctoral stints at Urbana and Chicago, he started his independent career at MIT and was tenured there after slightly more than three years on the faculty. In 2001 he moved to the other Cambridge and was the inaugural Schlumberger Chair in Complex Physical Systems at Cambridge University and a Professorial Fellow at Trinity. He moved back in 2003 to Cambridge, MA, but slightly up the river and has been at Harvard since then.  

Mahadevan’s interests center around understanding shape and flow of matter in space and time. A particular interest is the world as observed by our unaided senses, which is easily amenable to experience and experiments and leads to insights that go well beyond the specific problem at hand. These drive the mathematical descriptions, the physical and biophysical predictions, the engineering design and control, and the neural and cognitive perception of shape and flow.  Mahadevan’s approach to science and engineering is problem-driven, not tool-limited, and thus uses and creates tools as required, from many areas of continuum, statistical and condensed matter physics, theoretical biology, as well as geometry, statistics and computational science. His work has been recognized by a number of honors including a MacArthur Fellowship (class of 2009). He a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.

Members of the Mahadevan group come with a range of backgrounds in science and engineering and have gone on to industrial and academic positions in a range of disciplines, and include faculty in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, computer science, and engineering and medical schools. 

Contact Information

Nickname: Maha
Office:Pierce 322
Office Phone:(617) 496-9599
Office Fax(617) 495-9837
Lab Name:The Applied Math Lab
Lab Location:258 North West Building
Lab Phone:(617) 496-8892
Assistant:Michael A Donohoe
Assistant Office:Maxwell Dworkin 247
Assistant Phone:(617) 495-0871
Research Mgr: Shweta Chhetri

Primary Teaching Area

Positions & Employment

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

  • Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics
Harvard Department of Physics
  • Professor of Physics
Harvard Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology
  • Professor
Harvard Medical School
  • Affiliate Professor, Department of Systems Biology
University of Oxford
  • Schlumberger Visiting Professor, Mathematical Institute
National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India
  • Distinguished Visiting Professor



  • Fellow of the Royal Society of London2016
  • MacArthur Fellow2009-14
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, 2006
  • George Ledlie Prize, Harvard University, 2006
  • Alan Tayler Lecturer, Smith Institute and Oxford University, UK, 2003
  • G.I. Taylor Lecturer, Cambridge Philosophical Society, Cambridge, UK, 2001
  • Chaire Condorcet, Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, 2001
  • Edgerton Award, MIT, 2000