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Two Indian American scientists win prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for 2016

Theoretical computer scientists Subhash Khot

Chicago, Sep 23 (UITV)- Two Indian Americans scientists are among the 23 recipients of the prestigious 2016 MacArthur Fellowships, for showing exceptional creativity in their respective fields.

Physical biologist Manu Prakash and theoretical computer scientists Subhash Khot are among this year’s award recipient that was announced Sept. 22. Manu and Khot are alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur and Bombay respectively.

The MacArthur fellowships, popularly known as “genius grants” are awarded to scholars who show exceptional creativity in their work and the prospect for still more in the future. The grants carry cash “no string attached” grant of $625,000 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Manu Prakash received a B. Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and a Ph. D from MIT in 2008. The MacArthur Foundation recognized Prakash for his research that is “driven by curiosity about the diversity of life forms on our planet and how they work, empathy for problems in resource-poor settings, and a deep interest in democratizing the experience and joy of science globally.”

Prakash has developed a low-cost microfluidic chip, which can collect thousands of droplets of saliva from mosquito bites that can then be screened for pathogens. Data from the chip could predict and control mosquito-borne disease outbreaks. He was also named as one of the “35 Innovators Under 35” by MIT in 2014.

Khot is a theoretical computer scientists whose work is provides critical insight into unresolved problems in the field of computational complexity. Through his work, Khot has attempted to answer the question: can every problem whose solution can be quickly verified by a computer also be quickly solved by the computer?

The Silver Professor of Computer Science at New York University, Khot has developed the Unique Games Conjecture (UCG), which sheds new light on the computational complexity of many very diverse optimization tasks.

Knot’s continued ingenuity and tenacity in exploring the potential of the UGC will drive this important and fruitful area of research for many years to come.