2 IISc profs among Infosys Prize winners

Bengaluru: The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) on Tuesday announced Infosys Prize 2018 for six noted personalities from the field of science and research.

The award which consists of a gold medal, a citation and a prize purse worth $1 lakh (or its equivalent in rupees) this year will reach the winners in India completely tax free, according to ISF. The awards are constituted to recognise top achievers in six categories  Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.

Nano scientist to be honoured

This year's prize winners include two professors from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Prof Navakanta Bhat (for Engineering and Computer Science) and Prof S.K. Satheesh (for Physical Sciences).

Prof. Bhat who is also the Chairperson of the Centre for Nano Science and Engineering at IISc, was picked by the jury for his work on the design of novel biosensors based on his research in biochemistry and gaseous sensors that push the performance limits of existing metal-oxide sensors.

The prize also recognizes his efforts to build a state-of-the-art infrastructure for research and talent training in nanoscale systems and for developing technologies for space and national security applications. He has devised gas sensors with ultra-precise detection accuracies necessary for space and environmental monitoring, especially useful for India's growing space, atomic energy and security programs.

Prof Bhat, a graduate of University of Mysore (1989), pursued his PG degree from IIT Bombay (1992) and further completed his Ph.D from Standford University, US (1996). He joined IISc as an Assistant Professor in October 1999 and has been its active faculty member since then.

Prof Satheesh at the same time works as the Director of Divecha Centre for Climate Change established at IISc to understand climate variability, climate change and its impact on the environment.

Also a professor at the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences in the Institute, his pioneering scientific work in the field of climate change was recognised by the jury to pick him as a winner.

Prof. Satheesh, who hails fromThiruvananthapura, had conducted studies on black carbon aerosols the dark, light absorbing, microscopic particles in air which greatly influence the energy balance of the atmosphere over the Indian subcontinent, enabling a better understanding of the role of these particles on climate change, precipitation, and human health in the Indian subcontinent.

His work on measuring, quantifying, and analyzing the impact of black carbon aerosols is important to not only climate science but also to our society that has to mitigate and cope with climate change, regarded as one among the largest threats to humanity.

The other laureates for the Prize this year are Prof Kavita Singh (Jawaharlal Nehru University) under Humanities category, Prof Roop Malik (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) for his contribution to Life Sciences, Prof Nalini Anantharaman (University of Strasbourg) under Mathematical Sciences category and Prof Sendhil Mullainathan (University of Chicago Booth School of Business) in recognition of his work and studies in the field of Social Sciences.

The winners will be honoured by their respective jury chairs in a special function, which will see former Infosys Prize Laureate, Fields Medal winner and renowned mathematician Manjul Bhargava as the chief guest. The award ceremony will take place in the city on January 5.

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