Ramesh Gangolli was born in Bangalore, India, and educated at the Universities of Bombay and Cambridge, and at MIT. After taking his doctoral degree at MIT, he taught there for a year before joining the faculty of the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1962. Since then, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics, serving as Chair between 1981-85 and 1991-93. He has been active in mathematical research as well as in education during his career. He was a Sloan Foundation Fellow (1966-68); Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (1966-67); In 1966 he was awarded the Prix Paul Levy by the Academy of Sciences of France. He has served in a number capacities in service to the profession: on advisory committees of the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, as a Trustee of the American Mathematical Society, Chair of the AMS's Committee on Education, and in other similar roles. Between 1996 and 2003 years he served as Principal Investigator of two projects (supported by the National Science Foundation), involving K-12 mathematics teachers from six school districts in the Seattle Metropolitan Area. One of these projects was a Local Systemic Change project involving middle and high school teachers, the other being an Elementary school project that focused on leadership as well as systemic issues.
Ramesh Gangolli also maintains a serious interest in the classical music of North India and teaches in the Ethnomusicology Program in the School of Music. He trained as a vocalist under the guidance of several well-known vocalists of India, and has also been engaged in the study of the texts of the oral repertoire of the hereditary lineages of musicians of North India. He has given a number of recitals and lecture demonstrations in the US as well as in India relating to his work. He is currently Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Washington. In 1981 he helped to found Ragamala (a volunteer organization based in Seattle, devoted to the Music of India and South Asia), and served as its President for several years, intermittently. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of Ragamala.