On November 16, the Infosys Science Foundation announced the winners of its eponymous prize, awarded every year in six categories: engineering and computer science, humanities, life sciences, mathematical sciences, physical sciences and social sciences. Each recipient receives Rs.65 lakhs, a 22-karat gold medallion and a citation certificate.
S.D. Shibulal, the President of the board of trustees of the foundation, said, “We started with the Infosys Prize in 2009 and have since added high-touch, high-impact initiatives such as public lectures, training workshops for government school teachers and science oriented events for school students. Through our focused approach we aim to kindle the flame of scientific curiosity in young minds.” None of this year’s winners are women. In no particular order, they are:
Engineering and Computer Science: Umesh Waghmare, Theoretical Sciences Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), Bangalore. He has been awarded for his “use of first-principles theories and modelling in investigations of microscopic mechanisms responsible for specific properties of materials such as topological insulators, ferroelectrics, multiferroics and graphene”.
Humanities: Jonardon Ganeri, Global Network Visiting Professor of Philosophy, New York University and Recurrent Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, King’s College London. He has been given the award for “his interpretation and analysis of Indian Philosophy and the prevailing similarities and dichotomies that exist between Indian and Greek traditions of philosophical reasoning”. He has penned seven books and edited/co-edited seven more, and is preparing a series of new essays in Buddhist philosophy of mind. The jury chair for this category was Amartya Sen.
Life Sciences: Amit Sharma, Group Leader, Structural and Computational Biology Group, International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi. He has been recognised for his contributions toward “deciphering the molecular structure, at the atomic level, of key proteins involved in the biology of pathogenesis of the malarial parasite”. The jury chair for this category was Dr. Inder Verma of the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences.
Mathematical Sciences: Mahan Maharaj, Associate Professor of Mathematics, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Belur Math, Howrah. He has been awarded for his contributions to “geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology and complex geometry”. Maharaj also won the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award in mathematical sciences in 2011. The jury chair for this category was Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan from New York University.
Physical Sciences: G. Ravindra Kumar, Department of Nuclear and Atomic Physics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai. Kumar won the award for his contributions to understanding “the physics pertaining to high intensity laser-matter interactions”. He also succeeded in providing, for the first time, “irrefutable evidence of turbulent magnetic fields and the discovery of terahertz frequency acoustic waves in laser produced hot dense plasmas” – all significant results when studying stellar and astrophysical problems.
Social Sciences: Srinath Raghavan, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, was awarded for “outstanding research that synthesises military history, international politics, and strategic analysis into powerful and imaginative perspectives on India in global context.” Raghavan is also a senior research fellow at the India Institute at King’s College London. He works on contemporary and historical aspects of India’s foreign and security policies. Prior to his academic career, he spent six years as an infantry officer in the Indian Army. The jury chair for this category was Prof. Kaushik Basu of the World Bank.
The Awards Ceremony for the Infosys Prize 2015 will be held on February 13, 2016, in New Delhi, where President Pranab Mukherjee will felicitate the winners.