After receiving a B.A. from Swarthmore College in 1969, Draine served for two years in the Peace Corps, teaching physics and math in Ghana. He received a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Cornell University in 1978, followed by postdoctoral appointments at Harvard and the Institute for Advanced Study. Draine joined the Department of Astrophysical Sciences in 1982.
His research interests are in theoretical astrophysics, with particular interest in the rich physics of the interstellar medium. He has worked on a range of topics, including the theory of interstellar shock waves, and the structure of photodissociation regions. However, after getting involved with interstellar grains during his graduate study, he continues to be obsessed with interstellar dust, and much of his work has been in this area. Draine was a member of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey (SINGS), a Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy project which studied a sample of 75 nearby galaxies. He is a member of the KINGFISH collaboration, a Herschel Key Project using Herschel Space Telescope (a 3.5m telescope in space with a cryogenic focal plane) to study 61 nearby (d < 30 Mpc) galaxies using both far-infrared imaging and spectroscopy.
In addition to astrophysical studies, Draine (with collaborator P.J. Flatau) developed the open-source program DDSCAT, used for calculating electromagnetic scattering and absorption by small particles or periodic arrays of nanostructures. DDSCAT is used around the world in applications ranging from nanotechnology to light scattering by marine organisms.
Draine was one of the founders of Princeton Charter School, a K-8 public school that admitted its first students in 1997. He received the Danny Heinemann prize of the AAS and AIP in 2004, and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2007. His CV (pdf) and list of publications (pdf) will tell you more than you need to know about his work.