Washington: US President Joe Biden has honoured two Indian-American scientists — Subra Suresh and Ashok Gadgil — with National Medals for their pioneering contributions in the fields of science and technology innovation at a ceremony in White House.
“We’re determined to return great science to America,” Biden said in remarks at the ceremony in the House’s East Room on Tuesday.
“For this year’s recipients, ‘outstanding’ may be an understatement. They’re extraordinary… They have paved the way for a generation of other scientists and innovators to pursue their own discoveries to unlock our nation’s full potential.”
Suresh — a scientist and engineer with decades of impactful leadership in higher education, industry and government — was among nine recipients who were awarded the National Medal of Science.
A professor at large at Brown University’s School of Engineering and former director of the National Science Foundation, Suresh of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was honoured for pioneering research across engineering, physical sciences, and life sciences.
Describing Suresh as a “transformative educator”, a White House statement said that his “commitment to research and collaboration across borders has demonstrated how science can forge understanding and cooperation among people and nations”.
“It’s very satisfying,” Suresh said in a statement released by the Brown University’s School of Engineering.
“This is not why you do science. You don’t do this for the reward, you do it for the joy. If somebody notices it, it’s icing on the cake, but it’s not the cake itself. This particular one, though, has added significance because it’s from the president of the US. It’s national. It has the US stamped on it,” Suresh added.
Born in India in 1956, Suresh graduated from high school at 15 and by age 25 had earned his undergraduate degree, master’s degree and Ph.D, which he earned in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in just two years.
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was awarded to Ashok Gadgil of the University of California Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for providing life-sustaining resources to communities around the world.
Widely considered to be a “humanitarian inventor”, Gadgil was among 12 laureates to receive the honour.
“His innovative, inexpensive technologies help meet profound needs, from drinking water to fuel-efficient cookstoves. His work is inspired by a belief in the dignity of all people and in our power to solve the great challenges of our time,” the White House statement read.
Established by Congress in 1959, the National Medal of Science is conferred directly by the president and is the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers.
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is given for outstanding contributions to the promotion of technology for the improvement of the economic, environmental, and social well-being of the US.