A monk, an ex-army officer, a philosopher and a malaria researcher are among this year’s recipients of the Infosys Prize, instituted by the Infosys Science Foundation and funded by contributions from the software company Infosys’ former board of directors and senior management.
Here are the winners of the 2015 prize, consisting of a purse of Rs. 65 lakhs, a gold medallion and a citation certificate to be handed over by the President of India at a function in February 2016:
Umesh Waghmare, Professor at the Theoretical Sciences Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore for his “innovative use of first-principles theories and modeling in insightful investigations of microscopic mechanisms responsible for specific properties of certain materials such as topological insulators, ferroelectrics, multiferroics and graphene”.
Jonardon Ganeri, Global Network Visiting Professor of Philosophy, New York University and Recurrent Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, UK for his “outstanding scholarship and originality in interpreting and scrutinizing analytical Indian Philosophy and shedding light on shared ground as well as the dichotomy between Indian and Greek traditions of philosophical reasoning”.
Amit Sharma, Group Leader, Structural and Computational Biology Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi for his “pioneering contributions towards deciphering the molecular structure, at the atomic level, of key proteins involved in the biology of pathogenesis of the deadly malarial parasite”.
Mahan Maharaj, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Belur Math, Howrah, West Bengal for his “contributions to geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology and complex geometry. He established a central conjecture in the Thurston program to study hyperbolic 3-manifolds and introduced important new tools to study fundamental groups of complex manifolds”.
G Ravindra Kumar, Professor in the Department of Nuclear and Atomic Physics (DNAP), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai for his “pioneering experimental contributions to the physics of high intensity laser matter interactions. He provided for the first time, unequivocal evidence of turbulent magnetic fields and the discovery of terahertz frequency acoustic waves, in laser produced hot dense plasmas. These results have significance to testing stellar and astrophysical scenarios.”
Srinath Raghavan, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi for “outstanding research that synthesizes military history, international politics, and strategic analysis into powerful and imaginative perspectives on India in global context”.
High value cash awards and accompanying media attention that come with such prizes have helped get the spotlight on the winners and their work in recent times. Though awards are not what most scientists and researchers work and aim for, years of work does pay off — sometimes, quite literally — when they are honoured.
Congratulations to all winners and here’s hoping more corporates join hands not just to award scientists and researchers but also to add to the R&D kitty of India, which is overwhelmingly state-funded as of now.