For Humanities category introduced from this year

The Infosys Science Foundation on Friday announced the winners of the fourth Infosys Prize for research, across six categories, including one in Humanities introduced for the first time.

Bangalore-based scientist Satyajit Mayor, Dean at the National Centre for Biological Sciences and professor, Cellular Organization and Signalling Group, won the prize for Life Sciences for his research work in regulated cell-surface organisation and membrane dynamics.

Dr. Mayor, the only awardee present at the media interaction, said that he was “deeply honoured and quite embarrassed.”

“The prize I’ve been rewarded is for all of us,” he said, pointing to his young research team that joined him at the event. Dr. Mayor is the second scientist from the NCBS to be conferred this prize, after NCBS director K. Vijayaraghavan, who won the award in 2009.

The first Humanities prize was divided into two categories — History and Literary Studies. Sanjay Subrahmanyam, Professor of History, University of California, and scholar of early modern South Asian history, was chosen for the prize in History, for developing “a new genre of ‘connected history’ involving persons, products, and social and political processes stretching from Melaka (Malacca) in the East to Portugal in the West.” The prize for outstanding work in Literary Studies was conferred on Amit Chaudhuri, Professor of Contemporary Literature, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, in recognition of the “intellectual reach and the quiet humanity” in his writings. The jury for this new category is chaired by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.

Ashish Lele, scientist at the National Chemical Laboratories, Pune, was chosen for the prize in Engineering and Computer Science for his “incisive contributions in molecular tailoring of stimuli-responsive smart polymeric gel.”

Manjul Bhargava, Professor of Mathematics, Princeton University, Princeton, U.S., was awarded the prize in Mathematics for his “extraordinarily original work in algebraic number theory,” which revolutionised the way in which number fields and elliptic curves are counted.

The prize for physical sciences was given to Ayyappanpillai Ajayaghosh, senior scientist at the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Thiruvananthapuram. The jury recognised his “pioneering development of methods for the construction of functional nano materials,” which can be employed as components in energy conversion devices and powerful optical sensors.

Professor Arunava Sen of the Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, bagged an award in the Social Sciences category.

Announcing the winners, N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus and co-founder of Infosys, said the Infosys Prize would encourage young minds to explore the sciences, and promote ground-breaking research. Infosys executive co-chairman S. Gopalakrishnan said he hoped the winners would serve as role models and motivate young Indians to take up research across fields — in the short-term, it could be seen that it was becoming a coveted prize among researchers, who were finding their work recognised.

“If you want to increase research, you have to start early. Which is why we are taking these awardees [from] around the country, organising lectures in schools and colleges. We also organised a Maths feast in a school in Bangalore, and going forward, will take up more such activities to popularise the sciences, and encourage research,” Mr. Gopalakrishnan said.

The awards will be given away at a ceremony on January 3, 2013, in New Delhi. Gro Harlem Brundtland, the former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director General of the World Health Organization, will felicitate the winners.

  • The prize will encourage young minds to take up research: Infosys official

  • Awardees chosen from across six categories