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Kailash Kumar (1933–2012)

by Mukunda Das, Brian Robson and John Lowke

Kailash Kumar was born in Uttar Pradesh, India, and died in Sydney in late August 2012. He graduated BSc from Agra University and MSc from Allahabad University before obtaining a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake a PhD at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada. His supervisor was Melvin Preston and he obtained a PhD from McMaster in 1956 at the early age of 22. Following his PhD, Kailash was a Lecturer at McGill University, Montreal, Canada, and then an Assistant Professor at Purdue University, USA, for about 12 months on each occasion. He then returned to India, where he became a Visiting Fellow at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, then under the directorship of Homi Bhabha, for two years, 1958–60.

In 1960, at David Peaslee’s suggestion, he came to The Australian National University as a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Theoretical Physics, Research School of Physical Sciences. During this period, he completed his book Perturbation Theory and the Nuclear Many Body Problem (North Holland, Amsterdam, 1962). Following a brief return to India, he was appointed in 1963 as a Fellow in the same department. Kailash was promoted to Senior Fellow in 1967 and remained a valued staff member of the Department of Theoretical Physics until his retirement in 1996. From 1997 until 2009, Kailash continued to contribute to the department as a Visiting Fellow.

During Kailash’s membership of the Department of Theoretical Physics, his major contributions were in the development of transport theory for electrons and ions in gases. In particular, he published a long paper on ‘Kinetic theory of charged particles in gases’, which has been highly cited. He was a member of the editorial board of the journal Transport Theory and Statistical Physics, published by Taylor and Francis.

Although Kailash was born in India, he was thoroughly integrated into Australian life. As a young ANU staff member staying at University House, he participated strongly in organising a lecture-discussion group among students on Australian political, economic and educational issues. Kailash was a humble and kind person, who will always be missed. He is survived by his wife, Professor Ann Kumar, former Dean of the Faculty of Asian Studies and subsequently Director of the International Centre for Excellence in Asia-Pacific Studies at the ANU, his son Dr John Kumar, a chemist at Melbourne University, his daughter Dr Sonia Kumar, a psychiatrist in Sydney, and five grandchildren.

Citation details

Mukunda Das, Brian Robson and John Lowke, 'Kumar, Kailash (1933–2012)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 5 December 2023.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2023

Life Summary [details]


24 November, 1933
Uttar Pradesh, India


30 August, 2012 (aged 78)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.