Scientists and researchers, like people in any other profession, love a pat on the back. More so, since their perseverance is generally recognised only after long years of toil.
Awards go a long way to boost their morale, just like a publication or a patent does. And if the prize money is something to write home about, it is only too human to feel a wee bit nicer. A Nature India feature discusses how such high value awards are turning the spotlight back on science.
The biggest annual private sector award for science in India — the Infosys Prize — funded by the Infosys Science Foundation, were announced today. The award has attained a significant position in the annual science awards calendar in India, with a prize money of close to Rs 50 lakh recognising ‘outstanding research contributions’ in engineering and computer science, life sciences, mathematics, physical sciences, humanities and social sciences.
The humanities category was introduced this year to expand the scope of the prize.
This year’s awards went to Ashish Lele of the National Chemical Laboratories, Pune (engineering and computer science); Satyajit Mayor of the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore (life sciences); Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University, U.S.A. (mathematics) and Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh of the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram (physical sciences).
According to the citation, Lele received the award for his “incisive contributions in molecular tailoring of stimuli responsive smart polymeric gels; exploring the anomalous behavior of rheologically complex fluids, and for building the bridge between macromolecular dynamics and polymer processing.”
Mayor was honoured for his work that “provides new insights into regulated cell surface organization and membrane dynamics, necessary for understanding self-organization and trafficking of membrane molecules in living cells, and in signaling between cells.”
Bhargava got the Infosys prize for his “extraordinarily original work in algebraic number theory. His work has revolutionized the way in which number fields and elliptic curves are counted.”
Ajayaghosh was recognised for his “pioneering development of methods for the construction of functional nanomaterials, which can be employed as components in energy conversion devices and in powerful substance selective optical sensors.”
The humanities prize went to Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Distinguished Professor of History and Navin & Pratima Doshi Endowed Chair in Pre-Modern Indian History, University of California at Los Angeles, U.S.A. (history) and well known writer Amit Chaudhuri, Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of East Anglia, Norwich, U.K. (literature).
The social sciences award has been conferred on Arunava Sen, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.
Here’s hoping more private bodies take the cue.