US SENATE CONFIRMS INDIAN AMERICAN PUNEET TALWAR FOR KEY STATE DEPARTMENT POST
Puneet Talwar has been confirmed by the US Senate to a key diplomatic position, becoming the second Indian-American to join the State Department.
Talwar, who was a key aide of President Barack Obama on the Middle East, would now serve as assistant secretary for political-military affairs, Talwar would be serving as a bridge between the State and Defense departments. Talwar would provide policy direction in the areas of international security, security assistance, military operations, defence strategy and plans, and defence trade.
Talwar becomes the third Indian American in a top position at the State Department after Nisha Desai Biswal, point person for South and Central Asia, and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, the highest ranking Indian American in the Obama administration. At over two dozen, Obama administration boasts of having the highest number of Indian Americans in key jobs than any previous administrations in the U.S.
Since 2009, Talwar has been a special assistant to the US President and senior director for Iran, Iraq, and the Gulf States on the White House National Security Staff. Prior to this, Talwar served as a senior professional staff member on the Committee on Foreign Relations of the US Senate (SFRC) from 2001 to 2009 and from 1997 to 1999, and was the chief adviser on the Middle East to then senator Joseph R Biden in his capacity as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He served as a member of the department of state's policy planning staff from 1999 to 2001. From 1992 to 1995, he served as a foreign policy adviser to Representative Thomas C Sawyer, and from 1990 to 1992 as an official with the United Nations.
Talwar received a BS from Cornell University and an MA from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
ZUBIN MEHTA AND NRIs HONORED AT TIMES NOW NRI AWARDS
Renowned music director and concert conductor Zubin Mehta was conferred the special jury award by Times Now at the channel's NRI of the Year awards recently.
In their first year, the awards recognize non-resident Indians' contribution across categories, including entrepreneurship, arts, entertainment and philanthropy. The popular choice award at the show, which had minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayala Ravi as the chief guest, was given to Yusuff Ali A, managing director of Abu Dhabi-based Emk Lulu group.
The NRI of the Year awards aim to acknowledge non-resident Indian who have achieved success in various fields in the countries they have chosen to make their homes. Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan was named India's global icon. Other recipients in the awards' debut edition were Keertika Rawat for entertainment and Dr. Kunal Shah in the 'My India' category, while Dr Raminder Singh Ranger, Rupesh Srivastava, Anand Kumar and Nitish Jain were awarded in the entrepreneur category.
The award among NRI students was given to Husain Khaki, Mala Kiran Talekar, Abdul Muqeet and Aastha Chauhan.In the professionals' category, Dr Ramesh Babu, Chandrabhan Singh, Chandrashekar Natarajan Y Sudhir Kumar Shetty and Venkatesha Murthy won the award, while Suman Kapoor, Vijay Goradia, Keshav Murleedharan and Dr. D. Chandroo were felicitated for philanthropy.
among the award recipients Dr. Raminder Singh Ranger and Suman Kapoor are GOPIO Life Members.
Courtesy: Times of India, March 30, 2014
U.S. SENATE CONFIRMS INDIAN AMERICAN ARUN KUMAR AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
The U.S. Senate has confirmed yet another Indian American nominee of President Barack Obama to lead the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Commerce Department charged with helping U.S. companies succeed in markets around the world.
Kerala University physics graduate Arun Madhavan Kumar was confirmed to be assistant secretary of commerce and director general of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service by a voice vote Mar. 12 along with Puneet Talwar, a longtime White House national security staffer.
During his confirmation hearing, Kumar told the Senate Commerce Committee that he would "like to strengthen the focus on the markets offering the biggest opportunities for American products and services, and on orchestrating efforts to increase our market share in those markets."
Kumar, who succeeds another Indian American, Secunderabad-born Suresh Kumar, was earlier a partner and member of the Board of Directors at KPMG LLP. From 2005 until his retirement in September 2013, Kumar led the firm's West Coast finance management consulting practice. He also led the firm's U.S.-India practice from 2007 to 2013. Kumar joined KPMG in 1995 as a finance management leader. From 1993 to 1995, Kumar was the founder and CEO of Planning & Logic, Inc., a software company. Prior to that, he was co-founder and CFO of Netlabs, Inc. from 1991 to 1993; the CFO of Elite Microelectronics, Inc. from 1990 to 1991; and the director of planning and management information at Silicon Graphics, Inc. from 1989 to 1990. From 1980 to 1984, he was the controller of Elxsi, Inc., and from 1984 to 1988 co-founder, CFO, and vice-president of operations for Cydrome, Inc., a mini supercomputer company.
Kumar who received a B.Sc. in physics from the University of Kerala, India, went on to get an S.M. in management from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
DR. SUNEETA KRISHNAN NOMINATED TO GENDER AND RIGHTS ADVISORY PANEL
Suneeta Krishnan, Ph.D., a social epidemiologist at RTI International, has been nominated to the World Health Organization's Gender and Rights Advisory Panel. She will be one of 12 panel members serving a three-year term.
The Gender and Rights Advisory Panel was set up in 1996 with the mandate to examine the Department of Reproductive Health and Research's work from a gender equality and human rights perspective, and to give guidance on these issues in the field of sexual and reproductive health. The views and recommendations of the panel are presented to the Department's Scientific and Technical Advisory Group that reviews research and technical support activities and recommends priorities for the Department's future work.
Krishnan is a social epidemiologist specializing in community-based research in developing countries. For more than a decade, she has conducted research that aims to uncover the pathways through which gender inequalities lead to adverse health outcomes and health disparities and to develop and test interventions that promote health and gender equity. Her studies focus on the intersections between gender inequalities, violence, and women's health over the life course.
She has received funding from the National Institutes of Health, private foundations, and the World Bank to conduct research on gender-based power and prevention of intimate partner violence, HIV, cervical cancer, and other adverse women's health outcomes and to provide technical assistance for the development, implementation, and evaluation of women's health promotion programs.
In recognition of her research and community service, Krishnan received the 2004 U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Krishnan has authored or co-authored book chapters, peer reviewed journal articles and technical reports focused on violence against women, HIV/AIDS, and gender inequities.
Krishnan holds a doctorate and master's degree in epidemiology from the University of California at Berkeley. She is currently based in India and is RTI India's technical lead. Krishnan is also associate director of RTI's recently launched Global Gender Center.
INDIAN AMERICANS WIN 2014 SLOAN FELLLOWSHIPS
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has announced 126 early-career scholars who have won 2014 Sloan Research Fellowships. At least eight Indian American research scholars - five men and three women - were named fellows this year. Fellowships are awarded in eight scientific and technical fields: chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics.
Candidates are nominated by fellow scientists and winning fellows are chosen by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate's independent research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research.
In alphabetical order, the Indian American Sloan Fellows in 2014 are:
In computer science, Animashree Anandkumar, assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of California at Irvine;
In mathematics, Nayantara Bhatnagar, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Delaware;
In chemistry, Prashant Jain, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign;
In computational and evolutionary molecular biology, Anshul Kundaje, assistant professor in the Department of Genetics with a secondary appointment in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University;
In chemistry, Jeetain Mittal, assistant professor of chemistry at Lehigh University and P.C. Rossin Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering;
In computer science, Tapan Parikh, assistant professor at the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley;
In computer science, Pradeep Ravikumar, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Texas, Austin;
In computational and evolutionary molecular biology, Sushmita Roy, assistant professor in the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
On her university Web site, Anandkumar said she is originally from Mysore and has a B. Tech in electrical engineering from IIT-Madras and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University. Her research, she explained, focuses on "the area of inference and learning of probabilistic graphical models and latent variable models. Broadly, I am interested in machine learning, high-dimensional statistics, tensor methods, statistical physics, information theory and signal processing."
Bhatnagar has a Ph.D. in algorithms, combinatorics and optimization from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research interests are "probability, often motivated by problems from statistical physics, combinatorics, statistics and theoretical computer science. In particular, mixing times of Markov chains, random walks, random permutations and Gibbs measures on trees and random graphs."
Jain has a bachelor's degree in technology from the Institute of Chemical Technology in Mumbai and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Georgia Tech. His research interests include "nano-optics and molecular imaging with the goal of understanding and controlling energy transport, light-matter interactions, and chemical transformations on nanometer length scales."
Kundaje has a Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University and did post-doctoral research in the computer science department at Stanford University. "My research focus is the development of machine learning and computational frameworks to learn integrative models of transcriptional and post-transcriptional gene regulation from massive amounts of diverse sequence, genetic and functional genomic datasets," he said on his Web site.
Parikh has a B.S. in molecular modeling from Brown University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the University of Washington. His research interests include "human-computer interaction, mobile computing, paper and voice UIs and information systems." His research group "studies the design and use of information and communication technologies for sustainable development. We have designed and implemented several new community information platforms supporting applications in agriculture, health, education, microfinance, governance and other areas." Parikh told India-West Feb. 18, "I am truly honored and humbled by the award. Much of the credit should go to the fantastic students and collaborators I have had an opportunity to work with over the years, as well as the great people and organizations I've had a chance to work with in India, the Bay area, at Berkeley and elsewhere.
Ravikumar has a Ph.D. from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and did post-doctoral studies in the Department of Statistics at U.C.-Berkeley. "My main area of research is in statistical machine learning," he said on his Web site. "The core problem here is to infer conclusions from observations or data. The caveat is to do so reliably with limited computation and limited data. Of particular interest are modern settings where the dimensionality of data is high, and simultaneously achieving these twin objectives is difficult."
Roy has a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of New Mexico. She is also at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Roy told India-West, "I am generally interested in understanding how cells interpret information and the regulatory networks that make that possible. Living cells are complex and function via an intricate network of many molecular entities (such as genes, proteins and metabolites). Mistakes in interpreting this information can lead to aberrant cellular behavior, often leading to diseases. All cells know what to make and when to make it - a process that requires cells to interpret extra-cellular and environmental cues to make decisions such as what genes need to be activated, what proteins need to be made, and so on. It's the principles that govern this information processing machinery that interest me."
Mittal has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, a master's in engineering from IIT-Kanpur and a bachelor's in technology in chemical engineering from Beant College of Engineering & Technology, Gurdaspur. His research interests include simulation and theory of protein stability and dynamics, hydrophobic effects, nanoscale transport and molecular thermodynamics.
Courtesy: India West
THREE INDIAN ORIGIN SCIENTISTS RECEIVE SPIE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The International Society for Optics and Photonics, a US-based organization colloquially known as SPIE, has anointed three scientists of Indian origin with special recognition awards for 2014: Pramod Rastogi. Rajpal Sirohi, and Rajendra Singh.
Rastogi, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland, was given the organization's Dennis Gabor Award, in recognition "of his groundbreaking research in the development of high resolution and multi-component parametric phase formulation methods for the simultaneous estimation of multiple phases and their derivatives from holographic interference patterns." The research is in the field of diffractive wavefront technologies, which is what the Dennis Gabor Award specifically is meant to acknowledge.
"His commitment to science and technology in building bridges at the institutional and international levels is strongly reflected in the active role he played in laying groundwork for Switzerland's collaboration with the Indian Institutions of science and technology," SPIE said in a statement, "where he served as scientific advisor in part of the delegation accompanying the Swiss president in a visit to India in 2003."
Sirohi was given the Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Metrology, which he earned for his "important contributions to applied optics and his many international activities to spread his knowledge." A recipient of the Indian government's Padma Shri commendation, Sirohi is currently the Bharat Ratna Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Chair Professor at Tezpur University in Assam, India.
The Chandra S. Vikram Award in Optical Metrology is given for exceptional contributions to the field of optical metrology, according to SPIE. In a statement, SPIE Fellow Hans Tiziani of the University of Stuttgart, Germany said Sirohi's research work in different areas of metrology and involvement in education together with his successful management career is highly recognized worldwide."
Finally, Singh was awarded the SPIE Technology Achievement Award for "his efforts in the elucidation and exploitation of photonic effects in rapid thermal processing for semiconductor manufacturing, and his technical leadership of photovoltaic technology." Singh is currently the D. Houser Banks Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clemson University, in South Carolina.
Founded in 1955, SPIE a non-profit society that works to further research, development, and awareness of light-based technologies around the world. It is based in Bellingham, Washington, and also has an office in Cardiff, Wales.
FOUR INDIAN AMERICANS HONORED WITH HEINZ AWARDS
Four Indian Americans were named Feb. 25 winners of this year's Heinz Awards, established by Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation to honor the memory of the late U.S. Senator John Heinz. A total of five winners were announced.
In addition to winning $250,000, each recipient will receive a medallion inscribed with the image of Sen. Heinz on one side and a rendering of a globe passing between two hands on the other.
Named in the "Arts and Humanities" field was Dr. Abraham Verghese, a best selling author and Linda R. Meier and Joan F. Lane Provostial Professor and vice chair for the theory and practice of medicine at Stanford University's department of medicine.
In the "Technology, the Economy and Employment" category, the honoree was Leila Janah, of San Francisco, a social entrepreneur and founder of the nonprofits Samasource and SamaUSA, which use technology and the Internet to train people in some of the poorest regions of the world.
Recognized in the "Human Condition" category was Salman Khan, of Mountain View, Calif., founder of the Khan Academy, a nonprofit educational organization.
In the "Public Policy" sector, Dr. Sanjeev Arora of Albuquerque, N.M., was the award winner. A liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico, Arora created Project ECHO, or Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes, a global model to increase access to high-quality health care by expanding workforce capacity and evidence-based medicine.
The fifth honoree, in the "Environment" field, was Jonathan Foley of St. Paul, Minn., director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.
"This year's Heinz Awards recipients show that the antidote for the uncertainties and fears of our times lies where it always has - in the imagination, determination, brilliance and creativity of the people among us who see possibility where others see only barriers," said Teresa Heinz, chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation.
Verghese, author of the novel "Cutting for Stone" and memoir "My Own Country," has created fiction and non-fiction that documents "his belief and practice that healing must go beyond cures, diagnostic tests and technological advancements and must also address the sense of profound vulnerability that patients feel when they are facing a major health crisis," the foundation said in a press release.
"Eloquent as a writer and compassionate as a physician, Dr. Verghese brings a unique perspective to healing as an art in an era when the scientific details of medicine often overshadow the patient."
The Khan Academy, which now hosts more than 5,000 instructional videos and interactive lessons, has "revolutionized how millions of children and students of all ages across the globe are learning subjects as diverse as mathematics, biology, economics, art history and astronomy," the foundation said.
Khan founded the academy in 2008 after producing and hosting videos and software designed to break down key math concepts so that they would be more understandable to students who had encountered challenges.
Arora's Project ECHO uses "video conferencing technology and case-based learning" to expand the "capacities of primary care clinicians to manage serious, chronic, complex conditions they were not trained to manage in school, including Hepatitis C, HIV, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis and psychiatric disorders." "Project ECHO's footprint has expanded from its origins in New Mexico to more than a dozen states, including Illinois, Nevada, Massachusetts, Texas and Washington, as well as to India and Uruguay," the foundation added.
"With 29 hubs in the United States and four more globally, Project ECHO is also working directly with the U.S. departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and also with the Department of Health and Human Services through a demonstration project supported by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation."
Janah, one of the youngest people to be recognized by the Heinz Awards, through Samasource provides "microwork" opportunities - small, computer-based tasks such as data entry, photo tagging, content management translation and transcription. Companies who contract with Samasource for a project must commit to hiring women, youth and refugees.
Since 2008, the organization has grown to provide training and employment opportunities to nearly 5,000 people and has lifted as many as 20,000 people out of poverty," the foundation said.
SamaUSA assist low-income digital workers at community colleges in the U.S.
Recipients received their awards at a ceremony in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 3rd.