Born in Sri Laka, Asoka Mendis attended Ananda College for his early education and then obtained his B.Sc in mathematics with first class honors from the University of Colombo. Asoka Mendis served the Univesity of Colombo as a lecturer for four years years and received a scholarship from the government of Sri Lanka to attend the University of Manchester. He obtained his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Manchester in 1967. Later Professor Mendis received his D.Sc. from the University of Manchester in Astrophysics and Space Physics.
In 1969, Professor Asoka Mendis migrated to the United States of America while the country was gripped in the excitement of the space race. He joined the University of California San Diego, faculty of Applied Electrophysics (currently the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) in 1969 and was recognized by UCSD as a member of its “Founding Faculty”.
Professor Mendis has researched extensively into Astrophysics, Planetary and Space Physics, the Physics of Dusty Plasmas and Quantum Plasmas, Solar System studies and Physics of Comets.
In 1994, Professor Asoka Mendis retired as a Distinguished Professor and remains at UCSD an an Emeritus Professor, while continuing his research.
In 1994, Asoka Mendis retired as a Distinguished Professor and remains at UCSD as an Emeritus Professor, while continuing his research.
The contributions made by Professor Mendis in the development for the theory of “Gravitoelectrodynamics” to describe the behaviors of electrically charged dust particles in planetary and cometary magnetospheres remain the most influential in this field.
Professor Mendis had the honor of becoming the only scientist invited to participate in all missions to comets in the mid 1980’s.
In 1986, Professor Asoka Mendis had to accept a honorary citizenship from Hungary to defuse cold war tensions that had spilled into his field research. By accepting the honorary citizenship Professor Mendis allowed crucial research to continue into Halley’s Comet.
Professor Mendis has authored and co-authored over 250 articles and 3 books.
In 2001 and on the occasion of his 65th birthday, the leading international electrical engineering journal (IEEE Transactions) described Professor Asoka Mendis as the “founder” of dusty plasma research. That same year, the International Journal of Planetary Science honored Professor Mendis as a “planetary pioneer” with a biographical review devoted to his research in the field.
Professor Asoka lives with his wife Jannine in San Diego, California.