New Delhi: The Infosys Science Foundation has announced the winners of its six Infosys Prizes this year.
The six categories for which prizes are awarded are engineering and computer science, the humanities, the life sciences, the mathematical sciences, the physical sciences, and the social sciences.
This year’s winners for these categories are civil engineer Sachchida Nand Tripathi, science historian Jahnavi Phalkey, biologist Arun Kumar Shukla, mathematician Bhargav Bhatt, biological physicist Mukund Thattai and political theorist Karuna Mantena respectively.
According to its website, the prize “endeavours to to elevate the prestige of science and research in India and inspire young Indians to choose a vocation in research”.
Each prize carries a gold medal, a citation and the Indian rupee equivalent of US$100,000.
Infosys is a Bengaluru-based multinational IT and consulting company and it awarded the first Infosys Prize in 2008.
The 2023 laureates were shortlisted from 224 nominations by “an international panel of jurors comprising world-renowned scholars and experts”, Infosys’s website said.
They will be presented with their prizes in January next year.
Here is a short summary of the laureates’ achievements:
Sachchida Nand Tripathi
A professor at IIT Kanpur’s civil engineering department, Tripathi won the engineering and computer science prize for his work in deploying large-scale air quality sensors in India and a mobile laboratory for processing the relevant data.
“Prof. Tripathi’s work has shown that the important differences between observations of winter haze formation in Delhi and those in other places like Beijing are that the nano-particle growth-rate in Delhi is much higher and happens at night without photochemistry,” Infosys explained in a press release.
It added: “This finding holds the key to mitigating air pollution in India.”
Founding director of the Science Gallery in Bengaluru, Palkey was awarded the humanities prize for “her brilliant and granular insights into the individual, institutional and material histories of scientific research in modern India,” Infosys said.
The prize’s website congratulated her for her work on the history of nuclear science research in 20th-century India as well as scientific research more broadly, calling her research and expertise “without peer”.
Arun Kumar Shukla
A professor at IIT Kanpur’s biological sciences and bioengineering department, Shukla won the life sciences prize for his “outstanding contributions to the biology of G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).”
“Prof. Shukla’s research has established a new understanding of GPCRs, which are one of the most important classes of drug targets. His work has opened up previously uncharted avenues for designing novel and effective therapeutics,” Infosys said.
Bhatt is joint professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and at Princeton University, both in Princeton, New Jersey.
According to Infosys, he was awarded the mathematical sciences prize for his “outstanding and fundamental contributions to arithmetic geometry and commutative algebra”.
“Prof. Bhatt’s joint work in prismatic cohomology with German mathematician Peter Scholze introduces new ideas and powerful methods in this area at the heart of pure mathematics,” its website said.
The prize’s site also said that “much of work by mathematicians over the past five decades can now be viewed retrospectively as steps toward the Bhatt-Scholze theory of prismatic cohomology”.
Professor of biochemistry, biophysics and bioinformatics at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research’s National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bengaluru, Thattai was awarded the physical sciences prize this year for his work on evolutionary cell biology.
“He has explored the origins of endomembrane organelles, shedding new light on how they emerged from ancient, primordial cells,” the prize website said.
Infosys’s press release added that his work “could have profound implications in one of biology’s central mysteries of how complex cells emerged from primordial ones.”
The social sciences prize went to Columbia University political science professor Karuna Mantena.
“Her groundbreaking research on the theory of imperial rule, and the claim that this late imperial ideology became one of the important factors in the emergence of modern social theory” earned her the prize, according to its website.
“Prof. Mantena’s book Alibis of Empire and related papers are landmark publications in political theory with implications for all social sciences,” Infosys added.