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US presidential award for 3 Indian American scientists

July 24, 2012 08:36 IST

United States President Barack Obama has named three Indian American scientists among 96 researchers as recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers.

The awards bestowed on Sridevi Vedula Sarma from the prestigious Johns Hopkins University and Pawan Sinha and Parag A Pathak, both from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the highest honour given by the US government to science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

"Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people," Obama said.

"The impressive accomplishments of today's awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead," the US president said.

Established in 1996, the awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

An associate professor of computational and visual neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, Sinha received his undergraduate degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and his Masters and doctoral degrees from the Department of Computer Science at MIT.

Sinha's experimental work at the MIT involves studying the vision impaired, including children with autism and a unique population of children in India who have recovered sight following prolonged periods of congenital blindness.

In this context, Professor Sinha has launched a humanitarian and scientific initiative named "Project Prakash"

The goal of this project is not only to derive clues regarding the nature and development of high-level visual skills, but also to help blind children get treatment and to create rehabilitation routines to help them overcome visual impairments.

Sridevi Sarma is assistant professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Institute for Computational Medicine at the John Hopkins University.

Sarma received the BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University, in 1994; and an MS and PhD degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1997 and 2006, respectively.

She was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at MIT, Cambridge, from 2006-2009.

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