Dr. Rajan Sankaranarayanan from Chennai bags the Infosys Prize 2020 for his exemplary contributions in the field of Life Sciences
The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) awarded the winners of the Infosys Prize 2020 today for their outstanding contributions to science and research in a virtual awards ceremony. The prize consists of a pure gold medal, a citation and a purse of USD 100,000 and is awarded for stellar contributions in six fields: Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. The winners were announced by the eminent chairs of the jury and felicitated by the chief guest, Prof. S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan – Abel Prize winner and Professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York, USA.
The winners of the Infosys Prize 2020 were handpicked from 257 nominations by an accomplished jury comprising renowned scholars and professors from around the world. The chairs of the jury were: Prof. Arvind (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Engineering and Computer Science, Prof. Kaushik Basu (Cornell University and former SVP, World Bank) for Social Sciences, Prof. Akeel Bilgrami (Columbia University) for Humanities, Prof. Chandrashekhar Khare (University of California, Los Angeles) for Mathematical Sciences, Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni (California Institute of Technology) for Physical Sciences, and Prof. Mriganka Sur (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for Life Sciences.
The Infosys Prize has a history of awarding exceptional talent, some of whom have also earned prestigious international honors like the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, the Fields Medal and the Padma Shri. The ISF believes that this year’s winners too will leave an indelible impression in their respective domains. By recognizing these outstanding researchers and celebrating their achievements in the applied and theoretical domains, the Infosys Prize aims to create role models who will encourage young minds to explore science and research as career options.
Mr. Narayana Murthy, Founder – Infosys, President – Infosys Science Foundation, said, “The trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation dream of an India where the poorest children can have reasonable access to nutrition, education, healthcare and shelter, and have confidence in a better future. For that, we need well thought out and impactful ideas that are speedily executed without corruption. Developed countries have succeeded mainly by improving their higher education and research systems. The Infosys Prize contributes to this mission in India by honoring the best scientists and researchers, whose work has the potential to improve our world.”
Among those in attendance at the virtual ceremony were the trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation – Mr. Narayana Murthy (President of the Board of Trustees), Mr. Srinath Batni, Mr. K. Dinesh, Mr. S. Gopalakrishnan, Mr. Nandan Nilekani, Mr. Mohandas Pai, and Mr. S. D. Shibulal. In addition to the trustees and jury members, the event was attended by distinguished scientists and academicians from India and overseas, as well as business leaders, young researchers, and students.
In his speech as chief guest of the Infosys Prize ceremony, Prof. S. R. Srinivasa Varadhan said, “I want to thank the trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation for the service they are doing to the research community through the Infosys Prize. I commend them on their vision and commitment. The last seventy-five years have seen extraordinary changes in the way we live. As the research efforts of most of our scientists impact our daily lives it places an ethical responsibility on them. The primary responsibility however, rests collectively with societies, governments and international organizations to regulate and control harmful side effects of scientific research and discovery.”
The laureates of the Infosys Prize 2020 are:
Engineering and Computer Science
Prof. Hari Balakrishnan
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Engineering and Computer Science is awarded to Prof. Hari Balakrishnan from Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his broad contributions to computer networking, and his seminal work on mobile and wireless systems. Balakrishnan’s commercial use of mobile telematics improve driver behavior and make roads safer.
Dr. Prachi Deshpande
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Humanities is awarded to Dr. Prachi Deshpande from the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences (CSSS), Kolkata for her nuanced and sophisticated treatment of South Asian historiography. Dr. Deshpande’s book Creative Pasts and many articles provide fine insight into the evolution of modern history writing in Maharashtra from the Maratha period onwards, and offer a novel perspective on the history of Western India.
Dr. Rajan Sankaranarayanan
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Life Sciences is awarded to Dr. Rajan Sankaranarayanan from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for fundamental contributions towards understanding one of the most basic mechanisms in biology, the error-free translation of the genetic code to make protein molecules. Dr. Sankaranarayanan’s work has potential applications in the design of drugs such as antibiotics and immunosuppressants.
Prof. Sourav Chatterjee
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Mathematical Sciences is awarded to Prof. Sourav Chatterjee from Stanford University for his groundbreaking work in probability and statistical physics. Prof. Chatterjee’s collaborative work has played a critical role in areas such as the emerging body of work on large deviations for random graphs.
Prof. Arindam Ghosh
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Physical Sciences is awarded to Prof. Arindam Ghosh from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore for his development of atomically thin two-dimensional semiconductors to build a new generation of functional electronic, thermoelectric and optoelectronic devices. Prof. Ghosh’s creation of a new platform for light-matter interaction impacts quantum technologies and sensing in a fundamental way.
Prof. Raj Chetty
The Infosys Prize 2020 in Social Sciences is awarded to Prof. Raj Chetty from Harvard University for his pioneering research in identifying barriers to economic opportunity, and for developing solutions that help people escape poverty towards improved life outcomes. Prof. Chetty’s research and extraordinary ability to discern patterns in large data have the potential to induce major shifts in the discipline of Economics.