Three Indian American scientists get White House honour

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington : Three distinguished Indian Americans, two inventors and a researcher, figure among a dozen top scientists and innovators named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the nation’s highest honours in their fields.

Support TwoCircles

New York University’s Srinivasa S.R.Vardhan is among seven researches named to receive the National Medal of Science, while two Indian Institute of Technology alumni, Purdue University’s Rakesh Agarwal, and North Carolina State Univeristy’s B Jayant Baliga are among five named for Technology and Innovation medals.

“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” Obama said in a statement Tuesday.

“Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.” The recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony later this year.

Indian American origin Scientists and researchers have occasionally featured before in the White House honours list, but this is the first time that three have been recognized in a single year in a list typically dominated by US-born and educated.

Among the rare awardees of Indian-origin are Calyampudi R.Rao, and Arun Netravali who were recognized in 2001 for mathematical and computer sciences and technology respectively.

Varadhan, an alumnus of Presidency College, Chennai and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, won the award for his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behaviour, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability.

“The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering.”

Agrawal, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, won the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, for an extraordinary record of innovations in improving the energy efficiency and reducing the cost of gas liquefaction and separation.

“These innovations have had significant positive impacts on electronic device manufacturing, liquefied gas production, and the supply of industrial gases for diverse industries,” the White House said.

Baliga, an alumnus of IIT Chennai, also won the technology medal, for development and commercialisation of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defence, and renewable energy generation systems.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])