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Two women scientists among six winners of Infosys Prize 2019

Manjula Reddy
Manjula Reddy
Two women -- Manjula Reddy of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB, Hyderabad and Sunita Sarawagi of the Indian  Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay -- are among the six scientists chosen for the prestigious Infosys Prize 2019.
 
The prize is given annually by the Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) in six categories -- Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.
 
Reddy, Chief Scientist, CCMB, was chosen for the Infosys Prize 2019 for Life Sciences  for her groundbreaking discoveries concerning the structure of cell walls in bacteria. 
 
"Dr. 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," a press release from the Foundation said.
 
The Infosys Prize 2019 for Engineering and Computer Science has gone to Sarawagi, Institute Chair Professor, Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Bombay for her research in databases, data mining, machine learning and natural language processing, and for important applications of these research techniques. 
 
Sunita Sarawagi
Sunita Sarawagi
"The prize recognizes her pioneering work in developing information extraction techniques for unstructured data. Prof. 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," the release said.
 
The prize for Humanities has been awarded to Manu V. Devadevan, Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, 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. Dr. Devadevan's primary research interests include political and economic processes in pre-modern South India, literary practices in South India and the study of ancient inscriptions from the region," the release said.
 
The Infosys Prize 2019 for Mathematical Sciences is awarded to Siddhartha Mishra, Professor, Department of Mathematics, ETH Zürich, for his outstanding contributions to Applied Mathematics, particularly for designing numerical tools for solving problems in the real world. Prof. 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.
 
G Mugesh
G Mugesh
Anand Pandian
Anand Pandian
The prize for Physical Sciences has been given to G. Mugesh, Professor, Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru for his seminal work in the chemical synthesis of small molecules and nanomaterials for biomedical applications.
 
"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," the release said.
 
Anand Pandian, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, has been chosen for the  Infosys Prize 2019 for Social Sciences for his imaginative work on ethics, selfhood and the creative process. 
 
"Prof. Pandian's research encompasses several themes such as cinema, public culture, ecology, nature and the theory and methods of anthropology.  His writing pushes the boundaries of how anthropologists render into words the worlds they encounter. His work breaks new ground," the release said.
 
The prize for each category comprises a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of USD 100,000 (or its equivalent in Rupees) this year.
Manu V Devadevan
Manu V Devadevan
Siddhartha Mishra
Siddhartha Mishra
 
A panel of accomplished jurors comprising renowned scholars and professors shortlisted the winners of Infosys Prize 2019 from 196 nominations. 
 
"With a history of awarding some of the best talent, who have earned prestigious international honours like Fields Medal and the Nobel Memorial Prize more recently, the ISF believes that this year’s winners too will leave an indelible impression in their domains.  The Infosys Prize not only recognizes these outstanding researchers and celebrates their achievements, but in doing so, creates role models who will encourage young minds to explore science as a career option," the release said.
 
S. D. Shibulal, Co-founder, Infosys Limited and President of the Infosys Science Foundation, said, “The Infosys Prize continues to recognize exemplary work in scientific research and enquiry. 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. We hope it catalyzes social development.”  
 
Elaborating on the importance of fundamental research at the event, N. R. Narayana Murthy, Founder – Infosys, Trustee – Infosys Science Foundation, 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.”
 
The Infosys Science Foundation is a not-for-profit trust set up in 2009. 
 
NNN

(Our News Desk can be contacted at desk@netindian.in)

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