The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) on Thursday announced the winners of the 11th edition of the Infosys Prize 2019 in six categories — Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. The prize for each category comprises a pure gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of $100,000 this year.
In 2009, Nobel prize winner Abhijit Banerjee won the Infosys Prize in its first year in 2009 for social sciences-economics for his contributions to the economic theory of development as well as his work in the empirical evaluation of public policy.
This year, the prize received 196 nominations.
N.R Narayana Murthy, Infosys founder and trustee at ISF said, “We should start helping our youngsters pursue fundamental research enthusiastically. They should be encouraged and equipped to become contributors to solving huge problems that confront us every day. I want India to be a place where discovery and invention happen every month."
Sunita Sarawagi, Chair Professor of computer science & engineering in IIT Bombay won the prize in the Engineering and Computer Science category for her research in databases, data mining, machine learning and natural language processing, and for important applications of these research techniques.
In the Humanities category, the Infosys prize was awarded to Manu V. Devadevan, Assistant Professor of humanities and social sciences at IIT Mandi for his original and wide-ranging work on pre-modern South India.
Manjula Reddy, chief scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad won the award in the Life Sciences category for her discoveries concerning the structure of cell walls in bacteria. Reddy and her colleagues have revealed critical steps of cell wall growth that are fundamental for understanding bacterial biology.
“This work could potentially help in creating a new class of antibiotics to combat antibiotic resistant microbes," Infosys said in a release.
In Mathematical Sciences, the prize was awarded to Siddhartha Mishra, professor of mathematics, at ETH Zürich, for his contributions to applied mathematics, particularly for designing numerical tools for solving problems in the real world.
In Physical Sciences, the prize was awarded to G. Mugesh, professor of inorganic and physical chemistry at Indian Institute of Science for his work in the chemical synthesis of small molecules and nanomaterials for biomedical applications.
“The award is a great recognition of our work. The future work will be around developing new applications in chemistry and developing new compounds. We are focussing on cardiovascular diseases which are very relevant in India… one of my focus areas is also how can we regulate thyroid hormones using artificial molecules," Mugesh told Mint.
Anand Pandian, professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University won the award in the Social Sciences category for his research work that encompasses themes such as cinema, public culture, ecology, nature and the theory and methods of anthropology.