Lárus Thorlacius, Nordita's director, received his PhD from the Department of Physics at Princeton University in 1989. After postdoctoral work at Stanford University and the Institute for Theoretical Physics at UC Santa Barbara he returned to Princeton as an Assistant Professor in 1995. He has been Professor of Physics at the University of Iceland since 1998 and served as the Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Iceland 2007 - 2008.
His field of research is theoretical high-energy physics, with main emphasis on string theory and quantum gravity, but more generally on the application of quantum field theory to a variety of physical systems. He has worked extensively on theoretical problems involving black holes, including the black hole information paradox, and is one of the originators of the concept of black hole complementarity. He has had a long-standing interest in boundary conformal field theory starting with early work on open string vacuum configurations and their connection to dissipative quantum systems and subsequent work on exactly solvable boundary theories. His work also includes string thermodynamics, non-commutative geometry, the cosmic censorship conjecture and quantum cosmology.
In recent years his main focus has been on black hole physics in the context of the anti-de-Sitter/conformal field theory or AdS/CFT correspondence. He is currently working on a recently conjectured dual gravitational description of quantum critical systems in condensed matter physics.