Infosys Prize

Dr. Yamuna Krishnan was chosen for the 2017 Infosys Prize for her work in DNA architecture. (University of Chicago photo) 

BENGALURU — An Indian American professor from the University of Chicago is one of six individuals who were selected for the Infosys Prize 2017, the software major's Science Foundation said Nov. 21.

"A six-member jury of renowned scientists and professors selected the winners from 236 nominations received in six categories," the foundation's board of trustees president and Infosys co-founder K. Dinesh told reporters here.

Yamuna Krishnan, the professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago who was one of the winners, won in the Physical Sciences category. The other winners are: Lawrence Liang, professor, School of Law, Ambedkar University, New Delhi, in the Social Sciences category ; Ananya Jahanara Kabir, professor of English Literature, King's College London, for Humanities; Sanghamitra Bandyopadhyay, director, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, won in the Engineering and Computer Science category; Upinder Singh Bhalla, professor, National Center for Biological Sciences, Bengaluru, in Life Sciences; and Ritabrata Munshi, professor, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, won in Mathematical Sciences.

"The Infosys Prize continues to honor and recognize some of the best researchers and scientists of our time. Among the winners are a neuroscientist using computers to map the human brain, a computer scientist studying biological systems and a chemist trying to make DNA machines to study living cells," said Dinesh.

The prize for each category is Rs. 65 lakh, a 22-karat gold medallion and a citation certificate.

The jury members were Pradeep K. Khosla, University of California, San Diego; Amartya Sen, Harvard University; Inder Verma, Salk Institute of Biological Sciences; Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan, New York University; Shrinivas Kulkarni, California Institute of Technology and Kaushik Basu, Cornell University.

"The award aligns with our principle of promoting science and inspiring young researchers across the country. The Infosys Prize is gaining recognition and has become one of the coveted prize awards in science and research in the country," said Dinesh.

Krishnan won in the Physical Sciences category for her ground-breaking work in the emerging field of DNA architecture.

"By manipulating DNA, the building blocks of life, to create biocompatible nanomachines, Krishnan created novel ways of interrogating living systems, increasing our knowledge of cell function and getting one step closer to answering unresolved biomedical questions," said the statement.

Bandyopadhyay was selected in the Engineering And Computer Science category for her record in algorithmic optimization and its 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," said the foundation in a statement later.

Bhalla won in the Biological Sciences category for his pioneering contributions to the understanding of the brain's computational machinery.

"Bhalla's investigations has revealed essential neuronal computations that underlie the ability to acquire, integrate and store complex sensory information and to utilize that information for decision and action," it said.

Munshi was chosen in the Mathematical Sciences category for his outstanding contributions to analytic aspects of number theory.

"Besides ingenious contributions to the Diophantine problem, Munshi has established important estimates known as sub-convexity bounds for a large class of L-functions with methods that are powerful and original."

Liang won it in the Social Sciences category for creative scholarship on law and society.

"His prodigious output in copyright law, digital technologies and media and popular culture raises probing questions about the nature of freedom, rights and social development. His provocative answers link historical context and ethical practice in unexpected and illuminating ways."

Kabir was selected in the Humanities category for her original explorations of the historical elements – conceptual, social and cultural – in colonial modernity and her subtle and insightful ethnography of cultural and political life in Kashmir.

The awards ceremony will be held Jan. 10 in Bengaluru. Nobel laureate Kip S. Thorne, professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, will felicitate the winners.

Established in 2009 as a not-for-profit organization with a corpus of Rs. 130 crore by Infosys co-founders N.R. Narayana Murthy, Nandan Nilekani, S. Gopalakrishnan, S.D. Shibulal, K. Dinesh and the Board of Trustees, the foundation promotes interest in science and research in the country.

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