Infosys Prize 2019 Given to Six Leading Achievers

The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) today awarded the winners of the Infosys Prize 2019 for their outstanding contributions to science and research at an awards ceremony in Bengaluru. The winners were conferred the prize for their stellar contributions across six fields, namely Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. The winners were felicitated by the Chief Guest, Prof. Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Professor of Economics and Philosophy, Harvard University, USA, with a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of USD 100,000.

The event was attended by distinguished scientists and academicians from India and abroad, business leaders, young researchers and students. Trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation, Mr. S. D. Shibulal, President of the Board of Trustees, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Mr. T. V. Mohandas Pai, Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Mr. K. Dinesh and Mr. Srinath Batni, were also present at the award ceremony.

“The winners of the Infosys Prize this year have continued the tradition of those awarded over the last decade. Their work shapes the path of research and progress in their respective fields, often significantly impacting other disciplines too, enabling innovation at the boundaries. We are extremely proud to be able to showcase their achievements to the world and wish them greater success so they can continue to inspire and influence many in future,” said Mr. S. D. Shibulal, Co-founder, Infosys Limited and President of the Infosys Science Foundation.

In his speech as chief guest of the Infosys Prize ceremony, Prof. Amartya Sen said, “There are deep links between friendship and knowledge. Our intellectual horizons expand when we learn from each other. We can give to the world much more than what we get from it. For example, the mathematical revolution in India from the fifth century onwards, led particularly by Aryabhata, was influenced by intellectual developments in Greece, Babylon and Rome, but Aryabhatian mathematics, in turn, took gigantic leaps in India, and then spread abroad, with transformational impact on China, on the Arab world and eventually on Europe.

The constructive role of friendship applies not only across the national borders, but also within. Divisions between groups and sects not only damage our social lives, but they can also work as barriers to intellectual progress within and across the nations. Friendship is, in fact, central to the development of knowledge.”

The winners were chosen from close to 200 nominations by jury panels headed by eminent academics: Prof. Arvind (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Engineering and Computer Sciences; Prof. Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) for Humanities; Prof. Mriganka Sur (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Life Sciences; Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan (New York University) for Mathematical Sciences; Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni (California Institute of Technology) for Physical Sciences; and Prof. Kaushik Basu (Cornell University and former SVP, World Bank) for Social Sciences.

The laureates of the Infosys Prize 2019 are:
Engineering and Computer Science
Prof. Sunita Sarawagi, Institute Chair Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay for her research in databases, data mining, machine learning and natural language processing, and for important applications of these research techniques. Prof. Sarawagi’s work has practical applications in helping clean up unstructured data like addresses on the web and in repositories which then helps in more efficient handling of queries.

Dr. Manu V. Devadevan, Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Mandi for his original and wide-ranging work on pre-modern South India. He critically reinterprets much of the conventional wisdom about the cultural, religious and social history of the Deccan and South India. Dr. Devadevan’s primary research interests include political and economic processes in pre-modern South India, literary practices in South India and the study of ancient inscriptions from the region.

Life Sciences
Dr. Manjula Reddy, Chief Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for her groundbreaking discoveries concerning the structure of cell walls in bacteria. Dr. Reddy and her colleagues have revealed critical steps of cell wall growth that are fundamental for understanding bacterial biology. This work could potentially help in creating a new class of antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistant microbes.

Mathematical Sciences
Prof. Siddhartha Mishra, Professor, Department of Mathematics, ETH Zürich, for his outstanding contributions to Applied Mathematics, particularly for designing numerical tools for solving problems in the real world. Prof. Mishra’s work has been used in climate models, in astrophysics, aerodynamics, and plasma physics. He has produced codes for complicated realistic problems such as tsunamis generated by rock slides, and waves in the solar atmosphere.

Physical Sciences
Prof. G. Mugesh, Professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru for his seminal work in the chemical synthesis of small molecules and nanomaterials for biomedical applications. His work has contributed to the understanding of the role of trace elements, selenium and iodine, in thyroid hormone activation and metabolism, and this research has led to major medical advances.

Social Sciences
Prof. Anand Pandian, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins University for his imaginative work on ethics, selfhood and the creative process. Prof. Pandian’s research encompasses several themes such as cinema, public culture, ecology, nature and the theory and methods of anthropology. His writing pushes the boundaries of how anthropologists render into words the worlds they encounter. His work breaks new ground.

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