Report by India Education bureau, New Delhi: The Infosys Science Foundation today honored winners of the Infosys Prize 2012 for their outstanding achievements and contributions to science and humanities.
Former Prime Minister of Norway, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, felicitated the seven laureates across the six categories: Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences, at a ceremony in New Delhi. The seven winners of this year were drawn from a total of 220 nominees. The prize in each category comprises a gold medallion, a citation expounding the laureate’s work and INR 50 lakh as prize money (over US$ 90,000). The prize for the inaugural Humanities category was split equally between the two winners.
The ceremony was presided over by Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys and President of the Board of Trustees, Infosys Science Foundation. The event was graced by luminaries like Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, Nandan Nilekani, Chairman – Unique Identification Authority of India, Tarun Das, Former Chief Mentor – CII, Som Mittal, President of NASSCOM and Arun Maira, Member of Planning Commission. The jury chairs of the six categories elucidated the importance of the winners’ work to the audience. The jury chairs include – Prof. Amartya Sen, Humanities; Dr. Kaushik Basu, Social Sciences; Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni, Physical Sciences; Prof. Pradeep K. Khosla, Engineering & Computer Science; Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan, Mathematics; and Prof. Inder Verma, Life Sciences.
The pioneering work undertaken by the seven laureates is changing the game in their respective spheres.
Engineering and Computer Science
Dr. Ashish Lele, Scientist, National Chemical Laboratories (NCL), Pune, India.
Dr. Lele was selected for his work on smart gels which is based on the notion of connecting molecular properties to microscopic properties. This has potential impact in areas including soft actuators, smart drug delivery devices and stitch-less wound healing.
Prof. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Distinguished Professor of History and Navin & Pratima Doshi Endowed Chair in Pre-Modern Indian History, University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), U.S.A.
Prof. Subrahmanyam was awarded for his path-breaking contribution to history. His work involves developing a new genre of ‘connected history’ – which looks at how histories of different regions may be inter-connected. Indian history, for instance, is not isolated but has been shaped by events in other parts of the world.
Prof. Amit Chaudhuri, Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K.
Prof. Chaudhuri was chosen as a winner for his imaginative and illuminating writings in literary criticism, which reflect a complex literary sensibility, and great theoretical mastery, along with a probing sense of detail.
Dr. Satyajit Mayor, Professor of Cellular Organization and Signaling at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, India.
Dr. Mayor was recognized for his breakthrough contributions that provide new insights into regulated cell surface organization and membrane dynamics. His work has helped in understanding the state of the cell – healthy or diseased conditions, and also the cell’s function of being able to control and remodel the processes that happen inside it. This is fundamental to any understanding of the cell – medical or biotechnological.
Prof. Manjul Bhargava, Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, Princeton, U.S.A.
Prof. Bhargava was recognized for his extraordinarily original work in algebraic number theory. His work has revolutionized the way in which various fundamental arithmetic objects, such as elliptic curves are understood. Number Theory as a field finds application in cryptography, coding theory, internet transmissions and credit card security.
Dr. Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh, Senior Scientist, National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (NIIST), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Thiruvananthapuram, India.
Dr. Ajayaghosh was rewarded for his pioneering development of methods for the construction of supramolecular functional materials. These materials can be used for sensing other molecules and also for imaging certain biological molecules that may be responsible for diseases; and can therefore be used for detecting diseases in their early stages. These materials may also be used as a security label for documents and for currency.
Prof. Arunava Sen, Professor, Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), New Delhi, India.
Prof. Sen was chosen for his game-theoretic analyses of mechanism design. This is aimed at designing systems which can help achieve the best outcomes from diverse information and incentives. Prof. Sen’s work has implications in areas like auction design, designing of a voting system etc. It may also help in addressing questions of how to allocate students to colleges in universities or how to match donor kidneys to people who need them.
Congratulating the Jury Chairs and the Laureates, Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys, and President of the Board of Trustees, Infosys Science Foundation, said: “The Infosys Science Foundation has been engaged in promoting science and research through the Infosys Prize. In the fourth year of the Prize, the Foundation continues to make steady progress in bringing science and humanities to the mainstream by recognizing some of the finest researchers for their unparalleled achievements. We hope that the work of our distinguished laureates will prove to be an inspiration for the young generation to take up science and research and be the creators of the change that they want to see in the India of tomorrow.”
Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and Former Director General of the World Health Organization said: “Progress in science and research is directly linked to economic and social development of a country. Scientific progress in medicine has helped the life expectancy in India to double over the last 50 years. Scientists also heralded the advances in electricity and chemistry in the nineteenth century to drive the second Industrial Revolution. Today, science can help us find solutions to some of the most pressing issues like developing new, sustainable energy sources. Countries like India have the opportunity to develop ‘frugal science’ that is adapted to address the context of developing countries – be it in healthcare, effective delivery of education, management of mega-cities or provisions of water and energy. Countries and companies that adopt this will be at the forefront of the next phase of human progress.”
Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys, and Trustee, Infosys Science Foundation, said: “I congratulate each of the awardees for their highly impressive achievements and individual contributions in their respective fields of study. With the Infosys Prize 2012, we have added a new category – Humanities. This new prize category acknowledges the importance of humanistic pursuits like literature, legal studies and history in enriching and elevating our lives.”