BENGALURU: The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) on Wednesday announced the winners of the Infosys Prize 2017, across six fields — Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences. Now in its ninth year, the Infosys Prizes honour and recognise some of the best researchers and scientists of current times.
Among the winners is a neuroscientist who used computers to map the human brain, a computer scientist studying biological systems and a chemist trying to make DNA machines to study living cells.
Engineering and Computer Science
Prof Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, Director of Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, won the prize for a scholarly record in algorithmic optimisation and for its significant impact on biological data analysis. Her discoveries include a genetic marker for breast cancer, determination of co-occurrence of HIV and cancers, and the role of white cells in Alzheimer’s disease.
Prof Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Professor of English Literature, King’s College London, won the prize for her explorations of the historical elements – conceptual, social and cultural – in colonial modernity, and for her insightful ethnography of cultural and political life in Kashmir.
Prof Upinder Singh Bhalla, from National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, won the prize for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the brain’s computational machinery. His investigations have revealed essential neuronal computations that underlie the ability to acquire, integrate and store complex sensory information, and to utilise that information for decision and action.
Prof. Ritabrata Munshi, Professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai and Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata, won the prize for his contributions to analytic aspects of number theory. Besides ingenious contributions to the Diophantine problem, he has established important estimates known as sub-convexity bounds for a large class of L-functions with methods that are powerful and original.
Prof Yamuna Krishnan, a Professor in Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, won the prize for her ground-breaking work in the emerging field of DNA architecture. By successfully manipulating DNA – the building blocks of life – to create biocompatible nanomachines, she has created novel ways of interrogating living systems, increasing our knowledge of cell function and getting one step closer to answering unresolved biomedical questions.
Lawrence Liang is a legal scholar and activist who made contributions to the study of free speech, intellectual property and access to digilised knowledge in India, from a comparative and global perspective. As a co-founder of the Alternative Law Forum, he has shown a remarkable commitment to widening access to legal resources for marginalised groups. His work demonstrates how issues of intellectual property and piracy play out in the realm of law and media in India.
Liang displays a deep grasp of the history of copyright issues in the West and demonstrates the dynamics through which the domain of copyright protection, licensing and commodification have expanded in the era of liberal capitalism. His contributions have the potential of enriching not just our understanding of social progress but the methodological foundation of the social sciences.
The prize for each category consists of Rs 65 lakh, a 22-carat gold medallion and a citation certificate. The winners were shortlisted from over 236 nominations by a jury panel comprising renowned scientists and professors.
The awards will be given on January 10 next year in Bengaluru by Nobel Laureate Kip S Thorne, Professor Emeritus at California Institute of Technology. Prof Thorne is a theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics this year for his contributions to the observation of gravitational waves in 2015, posited by Albert Einstein 100 years ago.