The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) announced the winners of the Infosys Prize 2020 here on Wednesday in six categories for their contributions to science and research – Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences..
After a virtual press conference announcing the winners, they were awarded in a virtual ceremony the same day. The prize consists of a pure gold medal, a citation and a purse of $ 100,000. The winners were announced by the chairs of the jury and felicitated by the chief guest, S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, Abel Prize winner and Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York, USA.
According to a release from the foundation, the winners of the Infosys Prize 2020 were picked from 257 nominations by a jury comprising renowned scholars and professors from around the world. The chairs of the jury were: Arvind (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Engineering and Computer Science; Kaushik Basu (Cornell University and former SVP, World Bank) for Social Sciences; Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) for Humanities; Chandrashekhar Khare (University of California, Los Angeles) for Mathematical Sciences; Shrinivas Kulkarni (California Institute of Technology) for Physical Sciences; and Mriganka Sur (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Life Sciences.
Speaking during the press conference, Narayana Murthy, Founder – Infosys, and President – Infosys Science Foundation, said, “The trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation dream of an India where the poorest children can have reasonable access to nutrition, education, healthcare and shelter, and have confidence in a better future. For that, we need well-thought-out and impactful ideas that are speedily executed without corruption. Developed countries have succeeded mainly by improving their higher education and research systems. The Infosys Prize contributes to this mission in India by honouring the best scientists and researchers, whose work has the potential to improve our world.”
The laureates of the Infosys Prize 2020 are:
Engineering and Computer Science: Hari Balakrishnan from Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his broad contributions to computer networking, and his seminal work on mobile and wireless systems. Prof. Balakrishnan’s commercial use of mobile telematics improves driver behaviour and makes roads safer, ISF said.
Humanities: Prachi Deshpande from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS), Kolkata for her “nuanced and sophisticated treatment” of South Asian historiography. According to the ISF, Dr. Deshpande’s book “Creative Pasts” and many articles provide fine insight into the evolution of modern history writing in Maharashtra from the Maratha period onwards, and offer a novel perspective on the history of Western India.
Life Sciences: Rajan Sankaranarayanan from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for “fundamental contributions towards understanding one of the most basic mechanisms in biology, the error-free translation of the genetic code to make protein molecules”. The ISF said Mr. Sankaranarayanan’s work has potential applications in the design of drugs such as antibiotics and immunosuppressants.
Mathematical Sciences: Sourav Chatterjee from Stanford University for his “groundbreaking work” in probability and statistical physics. “Prof. Chatterjee’s collaborative work has played a critical role in areas such as the emerging body of work on large deviations for random graphs,” the ISF said.
Physical Sciences: Prof. Arindam Ghosh from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore for his development of atomically thin two-dimensional semiconductors to build a new generation of functional electronic, thermoelectric and optoelectronic devices. Prof. Ghosh’s creation of a new platform for light-matter interaction impacts quantum technologies and sensing in a fundamental way, the ISF said.
Social Sciences: Raj Chetty from Harvard University for his “pioneering research in identifying barriers to economic opportunity, and for developing solutions that help people escape poverty towards improved life outcomes.” According to the ISF, Prof. Chetty’s research and extraordinary ability to discern patterns in large data have the potential to induce major shifts in the discipline of Economics.