Infosys Prize winners take awards home

Infosys Prize winners take awards home

Sudha Murty, chairperson of Infosys Foundation, greets Nobel laureate Amartya Sen during the awards ceremony on Tuesday. DH Photo/Pushkar V

The winners of the 2019 Infosys Prize, announced in November 2019, received their prizes at a ceremony on Tuesday night.

The prizes were in recognition of their stellar contributions in six fields: Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.

At an award ceremony attended by prominent scientists, industrialists and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, the winners were handed their prize — a $1,00,000 payout, a gold medal and a citation of their feats.

“The winners were chosen on pure merit, and after their names were proposed by individuals working in their field. There are no-self nominations for this prize,” explained Bhavna Mehra, general manager of the Infosys Science Foundation.

Sunita Sarawagi, a computer scientist at IIT Bombay and one of two women to win the prize among the half dozen awardees, was recognised for her pioneering research to develop effective information extraction techniques to bring structure to the great clutter of information on the world wide web.

Another winner, Manu Devadevan, Assistant Professor at IIT Mandi, was lauded for his command over all south Indian languages and historical writings, which the Jury Chair for Humanities, Akeel Bilgrami of Columbia University, said allowed him to craft “powerful and refreshing” examinations of the cultural history of south India.

The winners were chosen from close to 200 nominations by jury panels headed by eminent academics.

S D Shibulal, the co-founder of Infosys Limited, pointed out that at least one previous Infosys Prize awardee had gone on to win a Nobel Prize. “This shows that perhaps we have a penchant for picking the right people,” he said.

2019 Infosys Prize winners

Social Sciences: Anand Pandian, Professor, Department of Anthropology, John Hopkins University, for pushing the boundaries of how anthropologists render into words the worlds they encounter.

Humanities: Manu V Devadevan, Assistant Professor, IIT Mandi, for critically reinterpreting political-economic processes and literary practices in pre-modern South India.

Life Sciences: Manjula Reddy, Chief Scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), for revealing critical steps of cell wall growth, fundamental for understanding bacterial biology.

Mathematical Sciences: Siddhartha Mishra, Professor, ETH Zürich, for designing numerical tools to better predict waves in the solar atmosphere and tsunamis generated by rock slides.

Physical Sciences: G Mugesh, Professor, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), for chemical synthesis of small molecules and nanomaterials for biomedical applications.

Engineering and Computer Science: Sunita Sarawagi, Institute Chair Professor, IIT Bombay, for developing information extraction techniques for unstructured data.

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