Home / Companies / People /  Shamnad Basheer, Esther Duflo among Infosys Prize winners

New Delhi: The Infosys Science Foundation on Thursday announced the winners of the annual Infosys Prize.

This year’s winners include patent law expert Shamnad Basheer, neuroscientist Shubha Tole, database systems expert Jayant Haritsa, a computer science theorist Madhu Sudan, developmental economist Esther Duflo and organic chemistry expert Srivari Chandrasekhar.

The Infosys Prize awards outstanding contributions in six categories: humanities, social sciences, physical sciences, engineering and computer science, mathematical sciences, and life sciences.

The humanities prize was awarded to Basheer, the founder of SpicyIP, a blog on intellectual property (IP) and innovation law and policy. He won the prize for the breakthroughs he has made in his academic work dealing with intellectual property rights generally, and patent laws in particular. “He has also linked up the practice of law with the theory of it in a totally remarkable and convincing way," said the jury chair Amartya Sen.

Neuroscientist Tole, a professor at the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, was awarded the life sciences prize for her contribution in understanding the development of the brain in the embryo leading to better understanding of its implications on normal functions and for diseases.

Haritsa, chair of the department of computer science and automation at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, was awarded the prize in engineering and computer science for the impact of his work in the field of databases. “Your work has included a series of breakthroughs that start from how does one define queries, how does one algorithmically optimize queries and how does one do this on the fly," said the jury chair, Pradeep K. Khosla.

Sudan, a principal researcher at Microsoft in New England, the US, was awarded the prize in mathematical sciences for his years of work covering different areas of theoretical computer science. “Probabilistic proof checking is an important tool in the verification of algorithms making sure that programs work correctly and do what they are supposed to do. Your work in coding has resulted in better error-correcting codes that significantly impacts electronic communication and encryption," said the jury chair, Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan.

Chandrasekhar, from the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology under the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, was awarded the prize in physical sciences. His work was noted for the diverse contributions in the general area of synthetic organic chemistry with special focus on the synthesis of complex molecules from natural sources. “Not only has your work had important ramifications in chemistry but it will affect branches of society such as drugs and pharmaceuticals; agro-chemicals and materials," said jury chair Shrinivas Kulkarni.

And finally, for social sciences the prize was awarded to Duflo, the founder and director of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab in Boston. She was recognized for her contributions in developmental economics and her work in India, especially involving constitutional amendment and the choice of women leaders at the local level.

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