Infosys Prizes 2012 and Indian Scientists

I have a hobby of my own. I keep on looking for the outstanding Indian scientists, technocrats, and managers in news reports in domestic as well as foreign media. In my opinion, the media doesn’t cover this community well. We know so much about the politicians, the cricketers and the movie actors only because of the media. Some of the business magazines keep on publishing the special issues on best educational institutes of the country. Why shouldn’t it also publish some special issues at least once in year or in two years about the 100 best teachers or scientists and their work in various institutes? It will be interesting if a special issue is focused on the 100 best technocrats or professional managers in India’s private and public sectors. On the similar lines, the country must also know some 20 best historians or literary giants or 15 best management thinkers.

From the press release of Infosys Prize 2012 I could dig some names from the juries and prize winners that I am giving here. The prize value of Rs.50 lakh is pretty lucrative. However, I feel this prize would have been only for the scientists working in Indian labs. I wish some of these scientists become one day Nobel laureates too.

The jury chairs for technology and sciences were: Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni for Physical Sciences; Prof. Pradeep K. Khosla for Engineering & Computer Science; Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan for Mathematics; and Prof. Inder Verma for Life Sciences.

1.Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni
Shrinivas Kulkarni, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Astronomy and Planetary Science at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA
Prof. Kulkarni’ s primary interests are the study of compact objects (neutron stars and gamma-ray bursts) and the search for extra-solar planets through interferometric and adaptive techniques.

2. Prof. Pradeep K. Khosla, Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, and Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Khosla’s research interests encompass the areas of internet-enabled collaborative design, collaborating autonomous systems, agent-based architectures for distributed design and embedded control, software composition and reconfigurable software for real-time embedded systems, reconfigurable and distributed robotic systems, integrated design-assembly planning systems and distributed information systems.

3. Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan, Professor of Mathematics and Frank J. Gould Professor of Science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, USA

4. Inder M. Verma, a professor in the Laboratory of Genetics and American Cancer Society Professor of Molecular Biology, is one of the world’s leading authorities on the development of viruses for gene therapy vectors. Dr. Verma uses genetically engineered viruses to insert new genes into cells that can then be returned to the body, where they produce the essential protein whose absence causes disease.

Below are the winners of this year’s prizes

1.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.

2. Life Sciences
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.

3.Mathematical Sciences
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.

4. Physical Sciences
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.

The news about the scientists will certainly inspire the students deciding to go for the higher education and joining teaching and R&D as profession.The industry must recognize these highly educated persons and use them with sufficient enough remunerations.

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