Thanu Padmanabhan was an Indian theoretical physicist and cosmologist whose research spanned a wide variety of topics in gravitation, structure formation in the universe and quantum gravity. He published nearly 300 papers and reviews in international journals and ten books in these areas. He made several contributions related to the analysis and modelling of dark energy in the universe and the interpretation of gravity as an emergent phenomenon. He was a Distinguished Professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at Pune, India. His doctoral advisor was Prof. J.V. Narlikar.
A Stanford study in 2020, listing top scientists in different fields, ranked Padmanabhan as 24th in the world in his research area.