Six professors awarded Infosys Prize 2019 for science and research

Shakoor Rather

Bengaluru, Nov 7 (PTI) Six eminent professors have won the Infosys Prize 2019 across different categories of science and research, the software major's science foundation announced on Friday.

The annual award includes a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse worth USD 100,000 or its equivalent in the Indian rupees, the Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) said in a statement.

The winners of the Infosys Prize 2019 were announced across six categories -- Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences.

A panel of accomplished jurors comprising renowned scholars and professors shortlisted the winners from 196 nominations.

'The Infosys Prize continues to recognise exemplary work in scientific research and enquiry,' S. D. Shibulal, President of the ISF said in a a statement.

'Many Infosys Prize laureates have gone on to contribute significantly in key areas like healthcare, genetics, climate science, astronomy and poverty alleviation, amongst other things. Their work has immediate implications for the human race and the planet,” he said.

N. R. Narayana Murthy, Founder of Infosys and Trustee - ISF said, 'We should start helping our youngsters pursue fundamental research enthusiastically.

'They should be encouraged and equipped to become contributors to solving huge problems that confront us every day. I want India to be a place where discovery and invention happen every month,' Murthy said in a statement.

The Infosys Prize 2019 for Engineering and Computer Science is awarded to Professor Sunita Sarawagi from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay for her research in databases, data mining, machine learning and natural language processing, and for important applications of these research techniques, ISF said.

The foundation said 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.

In the field of Humanities, the prize has been given to Manu V. Devadevan, Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), 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, ISF said.

Manjula Reddy, Chief Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad bagged the prize in the field of Life Sciences for her 'groundbreaking' discoveries concerning the structure of cell walls in bacteria.

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, according to ISF.

For Mathematical Sciences, the prize is awarded to Siddhartha Mishra, Professor at ETH Zurich in Switzerland, for his outstanding contributions to Applied Mathematics, particularly for designing numerical tools for solving problems in the real world.

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, according to ISF.

For Physical Sciences, the prize this year is awarded to G Mugesh, Professor at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru for his seminal work in the chemical synthesis of small molecules and nanomaterials for biomedical applications.

ISF said 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.

Anand Pandian, Professor at Johns Hopkins University in the US, won the prize this year in the for Social Sciences category for his imaginative work on ethics, selfhood and the creative process, ISF said.

Pandian's research encompasses several themes such as cinema, public culture, ecology, nature and the theory and methods of anthropology, it said. PTI SARSARSAR