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Ashish Lele, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Amit Chaudhury among winners of Infosys Prize 2012

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Scientist Ashish Lele, historian Sanjay Subrahmanyam, writer Amit Chaudhuri and mathematician Manjul Bhargava are among the seven winners of the Infosys Prize 2012 for their outstanding research contributions.

The other winners of the coveted prize, given in six categories, are cellular biologist Satyajit Mayor, scientist Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh and economic theorist Arunava Sen.
 
Dr Lele is a scientist at the National Chemical Laboratories in Pune, while Prof Subrahmanyam is Distinguished Professor of History and Navin & Pratima Doshi Endowed Chair in Pre-Modern Indian History, University of California at Los Angeles, United States.
 
Prof Chaudhuri is Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom, while Dr Mayor is Professor of Cellular Organization and Signaling at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.
 
Prof Bhargava is Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, Princeton, US, Dr Ajayaghosh is Senior Scientist at National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Thiruvananthapuram, and Prof Sen is Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.
 
The Prize is given in six categories: Engineering & Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. Now in its fourth year, it ranks among the highest monetary awards in India that recognizes scientific research.
 
Infosys Science Foundation introduced a new category of Humanities earlier this year to expand the scope of the prize which has traditionally acknowledged research in the physical, biological and social sciences, as well as mathematics, engineering and computer sciences. 
 
Two winners were announced in this category for their contributions in the fields of History and Literary Studies.
 
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“The Humanities as a cluster of subjects - Literary Studies, Philosophy, History, Art, and Legal Theory - complement the traditional sciences and have an important role in broadening human lives, like science has. Having a prize in Humanities will add incentive for younger people in the country to pursue these subjects. I am delighted that the Infosys Science Foundation is moving in this direction," Prof. Amartya Sen, jury chair for the Humanities category, said.
 
The seven winners of the Infosys Prize 2012 were informed of their selection earlier today by the trustees and jury chairs who evaluated their work along with panel members comprising of eminent scientists and professors from around the world. 
 
The jury chairs of the six categories are: Prof. Amartya Sen, Humanities; Dr. Kaushik Basu, Social Sciences; Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni, Physical Sciences; Prof. Pradeep K. Khosla, Engineering & Computer Science; Prof. Srinivasa S. R. Varadhan, Mathematical Sciences; and Prof. Inder Verma, Life Sciences.
 
The prize for each category includes a gold medallion, a citation certificate, and prize money of Rs. 50 lakhs.
 
Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman, Infosys, and President of the Board of Trustees, Infosys Science Foundation, said: “Scientific advances are important drivers of healthy economies. The ability to create, distribute, and use knowledge is a major source of competitive advantage, wealth creation, and quality-of-life improvements. We hope the winners will serve as role-models to motivate young Indians choose vocations in scientific research and increase innovative work and discovery being done in the country today.”
 
Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys, and Trustee, Infosys Science Foundation, said: It is our aim to promote ground-breaking research, while encouraging young minds in India to explore the sciences. The Infosys Prize is a step in this direction and will inspire many more Indians to achieve these important goals.”
 
The award ceremony for the Infosys Prize 2012 will be held on January 3, 2013 in New Delhi, where Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director General of the World Health Organization, will felicitate the winners.
 
In its efforts to elevate the prestige of scientific research in the country, the Infosys Science Foundation is lending a special focus to the development of Mathematics, with 2012 marked as the National Year of Mathematics by the Government of India. The Foundation has already orchestrated lectures across the country and inter-school Fests on Mathematics aimed at fostering enthusiasm and excitement around this academic field.
 
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The Infosys Prize is awarded under the aegis of the Infosys Science Foundation, a not-for-profit trust set up in February, 2009 by the management of the company. The Infosys Science Foundation is funded by a corpus which today stands at Rs 100 crore contributed by the trustees and Infosys. 
 
Prof Lele was chosen for the award in the Engineering and Computer Science category 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.
 
He received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai (1988) and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware (1993). 
 
Prof. Lele has been awarded the CSIR Young Scientist award (1996), the Indian National Science Academy Young Scientist award (1998), and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award in Engineering Science (2006). He is a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and of the Indian Academy of Science.  
 
He was a Visiting Professor at the I.S.I.T.V., Toulon, France (1996) and worked as a Research Associate in the University of Cambridge (2001). He is the President of the Indian Society of Rheology and a member of the editorial board of the prestigious journal, Rheologica Acta.
 
"Prof. Lele has made many novel and impactful contributions to polymer science and engineering.  These include molecular tailoring of stimuli responsive smart hydrogels, new insights into the anomalous rheological behavior of complex fluids and the coupling of macromolecular dynamics and polymer processing.  
 
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"He has many `firsts’ to his credit. The experimental discovery of novel macroscopic self-organization in stimuli responsive gels and the discovery of self-healing gels were important breakthroughs. His theoretical firsts include laying the foundations of a mean field theoretical framework of specific weak molecular interactions in gels; elucidation of the unusual amoeba-like dynamics of ring polymers; new insights into the role of convective constrained release of polymer chains in causing the industrially important stick-slip instability in flows of polymer melts, and the exploration of the critical role of flow-induced orientation of nanoclays," the jury said in its citation.
 
The Prize in Humanities – Literary Studies has been awarded to Prof Chaudhuri for his imaginative and illuminating writings in literary criticism, which reflect a complex literary sensibility, and great theoretical mastery, along with a probing sense of detail. It recognizes and celebrates the intellectual reach and the quiet humanity in his extraordinary writings.
 
He completed his Bachelor’s degree in Arts from the University College, London (1986) and Ph.D. from the Balliol College, Oxford (1993). 
 
He has received several awards such as the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature (2011), the Commonwealth Writers Prize (South East and Europe Region, Best Book) (2010), the Sahitya Akademi award (2002), and the Betty Trask prize (1991). He has written five novels, The Immortals, Afternoon Raag, A New World, Freedom Song, A Strange and Sublime Address. 
 
Apart from being a well-known novelist and a fine musician, Prof. Chaudhuri is one of India's best and most widely admired literary and cultural critic and theorist. 
 
"Prof. Chaudhuri’s writings in literary criticism reflect a complex literary sensibility, and great theoretical mastery, along with a probing sense of detail. These virtues are powerfully manifest in his highly original reading of D.H. Lawrence. He steered past the routine interpretations of Lawrence to a sober yet startlingly illuminating postmodern and even postcolonial understanding of his poems.
 
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"His personal and intellectual engagement with Tagore’s works, recast a widely familiar corpus of writing, and placed it in a dialectical relation with a long tradition of Western thought and literature.
 
"These accomplishments have been steadily supplemented with a series of thoroughly engaging reviews of Indian and English literature, all done with an eye alert to subtle connections between critical theory, literary text, and cultural context," the jury said.
 
Prof Subrahmanyam has been given the Prize in the Humanities – History category for his path-breaking contribution to history. He is an outstanding scholar of early-modern (1500-1800) South Asian history. He has been able to develop a new genre of “connected history,” involving persons, products, and social and political processes stretching from Malacca in the East to Portugal in the West. 
 
He earned his Master’s degree in Economics (1982) from the University of Delhi and a Ph.D. (1987) from the Delhi School of Economics. He is the Professor and Doshi Chair of Indian History at UCLA, since 2004. 
 
"Prof. Subrahmanyam is an outstanding scholar of early-modern (1500-1800) South Asian history. His ground-breaking work recaptures the real dynamism that marked an epoch, which had often been wrongly viewed by early historians as “stagnant.” 
 
"He brings to his research work, unparalleled command of archives in Europe, the Middle East, and India, along with vast reading of primary and secondary texts in nearly a dozen languages. 
 
"He has authored or co-authored over 26 books and scores of articles, which have been translated from Portuguese, French and Italian, to Chinese and Japanese. The impact of his works has been felt across disciplines," the citation said.
 
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Prof Mayor got the Life Sciences award for his work which 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.
 
He obtained his Master’s degree in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and his Ph.D. in Life Sciences from the Rockefeller University, New York. 
 
He has received several awards and accolades including the Swarnajayanti Fellowship by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) (2003-08), the Wellcome Trust International Senior Research Fellow (1999-2004) and the Helen Hays Whitney Post-Doctoral Fellowship (1992-95). He is a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences (2001). He was awarded the J.C. Bose Fellowship by the DST (2006-2011) and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award (2003). 
 
"Mayor’s earliest independent contributions were to define the nanoscale organization of GPI-linked proteins using fluorescence anisotropy, showing that these proteins exist in small (tens of nanometers) clusters, fundamentally clarifying the way in which membrane “rafts” are now understood.  He then went on to show that these microdomains are organized by actin and are endocytosed by a novel pathway that is clathrin- and dynamin-independent and regulated by cdc42 – this newly-discovered pathway is also responsible for a significant fraction of the micropinocytosis (fluid-phase uptake) by cells.  He followed up on this discovery with a broad-scale analysis of the mechanisms of several different pathways of endocytosis of different classes of membrane proteins.  This work has implications for endocytosis of immune regulators and modulation of immune responses (by HIV and other pathogens).
 
"He developed and applied fluorescence microscopic methods to another important problem, the analysis of gradients of morphogens important in pattern regulation in development and in cancer, such as Hedgehog and Wnt signaling, providing fundamental insights into the detailed mechanisms involved, and opening possible routes to intervention in such diseases," the jury said.
 
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Prof Bhargava was chosen for the Mathematics 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.
 
He earned his A.B. in Mathematics from Harvard University in 1996 and Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2001. 
 
He has received numerous awards, including three Derek Bok Awards for Excellence in Teaching (1993-95), the Hoopes Prize for Excellence in Scholarly Work and Research from Harvard University (1996), the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (1997), the MAA Merten M. Hasse Prize for Exposition (2003), a Packard Foundation Fellowship in Science and Engineering (2004), the Blumenthal Award (2005), the SASTRA Ramanujan Prize (2005), which he shared with Prof. Kannan Soundararajan; the AMS Cole Prize for number theory (2008) and the Prix Fermat (2011). He was also the 2011 Simons Lecturer at MIT. An accomplished tabla player, he studied with Pandit Prem Prakash Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussain.
 
"Prof Bhargava has made several highly original contributions to algebraic number theory. He has introduced brilliant new ideas which have turned a subject that had been largely stuck for 40 years, into one of the most active areas in number theory today. He has also proved a series of beautiful theorems that greatly enhance our understanding of number fields and elliptic curves, two of the most studied topics in number theory. In particular, he showed how to count quartic and quintic number fields, and proved that the average rank of an elliptic curve over the rational numbers is at most 7/6," the citation said.
 
The prize for Physical Sciences is awarded to Prof Ajayaghosh 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.
 
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He obtained his Master’s degree in Science. (1984) from Kerala University and a Ph.D (1988) from Calicut University.
 
He has received several awards such as the Thomson Reuters Research Excellence Award (2009), the Outstanding Researcher Award of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) (2009), the Ramanna Fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology, India (DST) (2007) and the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for chemical sciences (2007). 
 
"Prof. Ajayaghosh has done landmark work that has advanced supramolecular chemistry, most especially in investigations that have led to the design and synthesis of molecular assemblies called organogels, a new class of materials with great potential for photonic and electronic applications. He has demonstrated that these self-assembled nanomaterials can be used to control the electronic energy transfer processes, paving the way for the development of superior light harvesting devices. He has synthesized and characterized nanomaterials that can be employed for energy conversion and in optical sensors to detect tiny amounts of TNT and other very dangerous substances," the citation said.
 
The prize in Economics has been given to Prof Sen for his game-theoretic analyses of mechanism design for implementing social choice rules, when individuals have diverse information and incentives.
 
He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University (1987) and M.Phil. from Oxford University (1982).  
He has several awards to his credit such as the Mahalanobis Memorial Medal of the Indian Econometric Society (2000) and the Koc University Prize (1995) for the best paper in Economic Design.
 
"Prof. Sen’s research recognizes that information pertinent to economic policy design is held by individuals who may benefit by misrepresenting it, and that policy implementation is constrained by the freedom of individuals to act. Therefore, it has large implications on real-world policy-making. His main contribution (in joint work with Prof. Dilip Abreu) shows that any social choice rule can be approximated by one that is a Nash equilibrium of such individual interaction," the citation said.
 
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