Wednesday, September 23, 2009

2 Indian Americans win $500,000 MacArthur fellowships

Two Indian Americans, one a computer scientist and the other a mathematician, are among 24 winners of the prestigious MacArthur fellowships offering talented individuals unprecedented freedom and opportunity to reflect, create, and explore. Computer vision technologist Maneesh Agrawala, 37, and applied mathematics specialist L. Mahadevan, 44, will each receive $500,000 support over the next five years. MacArthur fellowships come without stipulations and reporting requirements. The unusual level of independence afforded to Fellows underscores the spirit of freedom intrinsic to creative endeavours.

Working at the intersection of visualisation, human-computer interaction, and computer graphics, Agrawala, draws on cognitive psychology to identify the key perceptual and design principles underlying graphic illustrations. Agrawala's novel approach to visualisation and computer communication in these and many other projects is transforming how we use, synthesise, and comprehend the ever-increasing volume of digital information we encounter in our daily lives. "Through these fellowships, we celebrate and support exceptional men and women of all ages and in all fields who dream, explore, take risks, invent, and build in new and unexpected ways in the interest of shaping a better future for us all," said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci.

Mahadevan is a mathematician who applies complex mathematical analyses to a variety of seemingly simple, but vexing, questions across the physical and biological sciences -how cloth folds when draped, how skin wrinkles, how flags flutter, how Venus flytraps snap close. He also considers properties of materials at larger scales, such as cell shape, adhesion, and migration in developmental biology, avalanche dynamics, or the role of water in determining the tensile characteristics of plants. Mahadevan received a BTech (1986) from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, an MS (1987) from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MS (1992) and PhD (1995) from Stanford University. Since 2003, he has been affiliated with Harvard University, where he is currently the De Valpine Professor of Applied MathematiHe holds visiting professorships at the University of Oxford's Mathematics Institute and the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.

The inaugural class of MacArthur Fellows was named in 1981. Including this year's Fellows, 805 people, ranging in age from 18 to 82 at the time of their selection, have been named MacArthur Fellows since the inception of the programme.

Source: The Economic Times

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