Henry D. I. Abarbanel received his B.S. in physics from Caltech and his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He has served on the faculties at Princeton, Stanford, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and, since 1982, at UC San Diego. He presently has appointments as professor of physics at UC San Diego and research physicist at the Marine Physical Laboratory, Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

His research interests have ranged from elementary particle physics to the nonlinear dynamics of biological and physical systems. In that regard he was the founding director of UC San Diego’s Institute for Nonlinear Science and served from 1986 through 2007. In 2000–01 he served as a member of the University of California’s Academic Council, the governing body of UC’s faculty senate.

Since 1974, Abarbanel has been a member of JASON, a consulting group to the U.S. Government on technical matters. In 1992 he became a member of the City Council of Del Mar, California, serving as mayor in 1995–96. In that role he has served on numerous regional bodies concerned with energy, wastewater, infrastructure, and quality of life in the San Diego region.

He is a member of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, by appointment of Governor Jerry Brown.