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Obama honours three top Indian-American scientists

October 23, 2011 16:48 IST
United States President Barack Obama has honoured three "extraordinary" Indian-American scientists and nine others with America's top medals for their pioneering work in exploring the very frontiers of human knowledge and making the world a better place.

At an impressive White House ceremony, Obama presented the National Medal of Science to Dr Srinivasa S R Varadhan from the New York University for his groundbreaking research in probability theory. Varadhan's findings have potential applications in many areas of study including population dynamics, finance, and traffic engineering, including highway planning and management.

Obama conferred the National Medal of Technology to Dr Rakesh Agrawal from Purdue University, Indiana for his many innovations relating to liquefied gas production. Agrawal's research findings have resulted in significant energy and cost efficiencies and advanced the science of electronic device manufacturing while enhancing the supply of industrial gases for a wide range of industries.

The US President also presented the National Medal of Technology to Dr B Jayant Baliga with North Carolina State University for the development and commercialisation of a range of power semiconductor devices.

These semi-conductors are extensively used in lighting, medicine, and renewable energy generation systems, including hybrid and electric vehicles and solar energy sources.

"I'm pleased to recognise these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors for their work exploring the very frontiers of human knowledge and making our world a better place," Obama said at the ceremony held on Friday.

"It's important to recognise that work, and to help make it easier for inventors and innovators like them to bring their work from the lab to the marketplace and create jobs," the US President said.

Because of their work, soldiers can see the enemy at night and grandparents can see the pictures of their grandchildren instantly and constantly. Planes are safer, satellites are cheaper, and our energy grid is more efficient, thanks to the breakthroughs that they have made, he said.

Obama said America has always been a place where good ideas can thrive and dreams can become real -- where innovation is encouraged and the greatest minds in the world are free to push the very limits of science and technology.

"To understand that, you don't have to look any further than the people on this stage. Three-quarters of our honorees were born outside of the United States. From China, Germany, India, Canada and England, they searched for the best universities and the most advanced labs -- and they found them

here, because America is the best place in the world to do the work that they do," Obama said.

The National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation -- the highest honours bestowed by the US government on scientists, engineers and inventors.

Earlier this month, Obama had personally welcomed the three winners of the first-ever Google Science Fair to the Oval Office, two of them who were of Indian origin.

Shree Bose, 17, who won in the age 17-18 category and grand-prize winner, from Fort Worth, Texas, discovered a way to improve ovarian cancer treatment for patients who have built up a resistance to certain chemotherapy drugs.

Naomi Shah, 16, winner age 15-16 category from Portland, Oregon, demonstrated that making changes to indoor environments can improve indoor air quality and reduce reliance on asthma medications.

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