Four Indian-Americans awarded 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships

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Four Indian-Americans have made it to the 96th Guggenheim Fellowships, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced Aug.9.

The four genius are among the 175 fellows chosen for the fellowship from a sea of 3000 applicants this year, from a diverse group of writers, scholars, artists, and scientists drawn from 53 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 78 different academic institutions, 31 states and the District of Columbia, and 2 Canadian provinces.

The four Indian -American fellows awarded with the prestigious 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships are Kavita Ramanan, Roland George Dwight Richardson University Professor of Applied Mathematics at Brown University; DIlip Da Cunha, architect and planner and teacher at Harvard University and Columbia University; Mukul Sharma, professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, and Pradeep Sharma , M.D. Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Physics at the University of Houston.

Kavita Ramanan

According to the Foundation website, Prof.Ramanan is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work transcends boundaries and combines tools from a broad array of fields, including discrete probability, stochastic analysis and partial differential equations.

She has introduced novel perspectives and developed innovative mathematical techniques for the analysis of stochastic networks and interacting particle systems, which model phenomena in a variety of fields including engineering, statistical physics and neuroscience. She has also made fundamental contributions to the study of large deviations or rare events, with applications to asymptotic convex geometry and high-dimensional statistics.

Her research has been recognized by the Erlang Prize from the Applied Probability Society, a Medallion from the Institute for Mathematical Statistics, and a Simons Fellowship. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Mathematical Society, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, Institute for Mathematical Statistics, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. She is also passionate about math outreach. She founded the Math CoOp, served as consultant and narrator for the film “Srinivasa Ramanujan: The Mathematician and his Legacy”, and acts as the corresponding editor for the Mathematics Magazine Bhāvāna.

DIlip Da Cunha

Da Cunha also has several books to his name. He is author with Anuradha Mathur of Mississippi Floods: Designing a Shifting Landscape (2001); Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’ Terrain (2006); Soak: Mumbai in an Estuary (2009) and co-editor of Design in the Terrain of Water (2014). His book, The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’ Eye and Ganga’ Descent, was published by University of Pennsylvania Press in 2019 that makes the case that the river far from being natural, is a product of design made possible by the drawn line separating land from water and a choice of a fairweather moment in the hydrologic cycle.

He is currently working on a sequel and an exhibition with Mathur titled ‘The Ocean of Rain’ that presents rain as an alternative moment of design to river landscapes, writes the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation website.

Mukul Sharma

Prof.Sharma, born in Delhi and did his early studies in India. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Delhi and M.Sc. from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. He earned another master’s and his doctorate from the University of Rochester. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology and at the Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Mainz.

Awarded for his expertise, the website states that his research focus is very broad and over the years he has examined diverse problems such as the evolution of early Earth, mixing and homogenization of Solar Nebula, origin of mantle heterogeneities, the relationship between solar magnetic activity and terrestrial climate, osmium budget of the ocean, methane production on Mars, and water-rock interaction during hydraulic fracturing.

Prof.Sharma has been working on to measure the osmium and iron isotope composition of solar photosphere, and to investigate the behavior of platinum metals in the ocean, the cause(s) of Younger Dryas abrupt climate change, and the role of clay minerals in preserving carbonaceous material in black shale. For the Guggenheim, he will explore a novel approach to utilize clay minerals to sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide in the ocean.


Pradeep Sharma

Prof. Pradeep Sharma received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park in the year 2000. Subsequent to his doctoral degree, he was employed at General Electric R & D for more than three years as a research scientist. He joined the department of mechanical engineering at University of Houston in January 2004.

He employs theoretical and computational approaches to understand physical phenomena across multiple disciplines—from materials science to biology. In collaboration with experimentalists, he uses methods of applied mathematics, continuum mechanics, atomistic and quantum simulations,  among others to carry out his research.

As per the Foundation website, his honors and awards include the Young Investigators Award from Office of Naval Research, Thomas J.R. Hughes Young Investigator Award from the ASME, Texas Space Grants Consortium New Investigators Program Award, the Fulbright fellowship, the ASME Melville medal, the James R. Rice medal from the Society of Engineering Science and the University of Houston Research Excellence Award. He is a fellow of the ASME and has served on the editorial board of several journals such as the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids.

About the fellowship

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $375 million in Fellowships to over 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medalists, poets laureate, members of the national academies, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, National Book Award, and many other internationally recognized honors.

Created by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son, the Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers.


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