The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) on Friday honoured the winners of the Infosys Prize 2018 at an awards ceremony in Bengaluru while also celebrating its 10th year milestone. The Infosys Prize is given to individuals who have made significant 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. Manjul Bhargava, Fields Medalist and R. Brandon Fradd, Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, with a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of USD 100,000.
The event was attended by eminent scientists and academicians from India and abroad, business leaders, young researchers and students. Trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation, K. Dinesh, President of the Board of Trustees, N. R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, T. V. Mohandas Pai, S. Gopalakrishnan, S. D. Shibulal and Srinath Batni, were also present at the event.
“The past decade has seen some incredible innovations in the field of scientific research. Collaborative research has been a watchword in the space as individuals from across geographies have come together to ideate and resolve some of the most pressing global issues and contribute to academic progress. All the winners today have made great strides in their respective fields and we, at the Infosys Science Foundation, are extremely proud to bring their achievements to the public stage. We hope they continue to inspire future generations,” said K. Dinesh, President of the Infosys Science Foundation.
The winners were chosen from 244 nominations by jurors headed by eminent academics: Prof. Pradeep K. Khosla (University of California, San Diego) for Engineering and Computer; Prof. Amartya Sen (Harvard 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 Infosys Prize serves as an inspiration and source of encouragement for young scientists and researchers to expand the purview of scientific research, both in India and globally. I congratulate the winners of the Infosys Prize 2018 for their contribution to science and research, and for the well-deserved recognition they are receiving," stated Prof. Manjul Bhargava, R. Brandon Fradd Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, the First Distinguished Chair for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics at the National Museum of Mathematics in New York, and Infosys Prize (Mathematics) 2012 winner.
The laureates of the Infosys Prize 2018 are:
Engineering and Computer Science
Navakanta Bhat, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and Chairperson, Centre for Nano Science and Engineering, IISc for his work on the design of novel biosensors based on his research in biochemistry and gaseous sensors that push the performance limits of existing metal-oxide sensors. Prof. Bhat has devised gas sensors with ultra-precise detection accuracies necessary for space and environmental monitoring, especially useful for India’s growing space, atomic energy and security programs.
Kavita Singh, Professor and Dean, School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi for her extraordinarily illuminating study of Mughal, Rajput and Deccan art, as well as her insightful writing on the historical function and role of museums and their significance in the increasingly fraught and conflicted social world in which visual culture exists today. Prof. Singh’s work shows the significance of museums in highlighting the social impact of art, and thereby relates visual culture to large contemporary questions of secularity, modernity, and political conflict, including the conflicts around repatriation that have been generated by a colonial past.
Roop Mallik, Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai for his pioneering work on molecular motor proteins, which are crucial for the functioning of living cells. Mallik has identified and measured forces needed to transport large particles inside cells, and demonstrated their role in fundamental processes like targeting pathogens for their destruction and moving lipid droplets for fatty acid regulation in the liver. Among other things, Prof. Mallik’s research provides insights that will improve therapies for conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
Nalini Anantharaman, Professor and Chair of Mathematics, Institute for Advanced Study, University of Strasbourg, France for her work related to “Quantum Chaos”, specifically for the effective use of entropy in the study of semi-classical limits of eigenstates in quantum analogs of chaotic dynamical systems and for her work on the delocalization of eigenfunctions on large regular graphs. Prof. Anantharaman’s work impressively explores the deep relationship between classical and quantum systems and the unexpected use of entropy to prove some of the hard results.
S.K. Satheesh, Professor, Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and Director, Divecha Centre for Climate Change for his pioneering scientific work in the field of climate change. His studies on black carbon aerosols, the dark, light absorbing, microscopic particles in air which greatly influence the energy balance of the atmosphere over the Indian subcontinent, have enabled a better understanding of the role of these particles on climate change, precipitation, and, human health in the Indian subcontinent. Prof. Satheesh’s work on measuring, quantifying, and analyzing the impact of black carbon aerosols is important to not only climate science but also to society that has to mitigate and cope with climate change, possibly the most important threat to humanity.
Sendhil Mullainathan, University Professor, Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science, and George C. Tiao Faculty Fellow, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business for his path-breaking work in behavioural economics. Mullainathan’s research has had substantial impact on diverse fields such as development, public finance, corporate governance and policy design. A significant part of this work is relevant to India. He is currently working on big data and machine learning issues and applications in economics.