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Two Ex-IIT Alumni bag Rs 6 Crore ‘Genius Grant’ from MacArthur Foundation


This year’s ‘genius grant’ given by philanthropic MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, Illinois has been announced on 22 September 2016 and consists of US$625,000 grants which are paid over the course of five years.

Among the 23 distinguished scholars who have been awarded the fellowship- christened “Genius Grant” is Subhash Khot, now at New York University and Manu Prakash, now at Stanford University.

Both the scholars are IIT alumni and form a part of 23 exceptionally creative people who have excelled in their field of interest. Subhash who is now affiliated with New York University passed out from IIT Bombay and Manu from IIT Kanpur.

Dr. Khot had been awarded the Nevanlinna Prize in 2014, works in theoretical computer science. Manu Prakash has some unique and practical innovations to his name. One is an Origami-like scope composed of paper and a glass bead lens costing less than Rs 70 but enables viewing things in the submicron range. Manu’s invention has been adopted by some schools, medical experts, and citizen scientists.

Manu has also invented a sticker-like microfluid chip and could be used to collect and test saliva from mosquito bites to test for the virus, bacteria, and other pathogens. It will be a very useful device and will help in controlling vector spread diseases all across the tropical regions. Dr. Prakash is also working on a novel diagnostic tool, “An H20 Computer” which envisages making a computer out of tiny air bubbles moving across a microfluidic channel.

The fellowship includes a grant of $625,000 spread over a period of five years. In the past, the award has been given to Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie and mathematician Yitang Zhang, who achieved a breakthrough in the Twin Primes Conjecture.

Noted geobiologist and explorer of marine life on the seafloor Victoria Orphan is also the recipient of ‘genius grant’ this year. Victoria is attached to the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. She is involved in investigating how microbes survive in the extreme environments like deep sea vents and sulfur spewing ducts in the ocean. Her work will give a better understanding of the possibility of life on other planets.


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