Muhammad Arshad, director, Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, Pakistan, has won the 2007 TWAS Prize in the agricultural sciences for his innovative contributions to our understanding of plant growth regulators that hold the potential to increase crop yields. Arshad’s research has focused on soil and environmental microbiology. He has pioneered the concept of utilizing substrate-dependent microbially produced plant growth and has successfully formulated high-quality bio-fertilizers. He has also examined ways to biologically convert organic wastes into soil-enhancing additives to improve soil health, save water and improve crop yields.
Lucia Mendonça Previato, professor, Instituto de Biofisica Carlos Chagas Filho at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, has been named the winner of the 2007 TWAS Prize in biology. The prize is being given for her contributions to increasing our understanding for the treatment and prevention of Chagas disease that currently afflicts an estimated 17 million people in Central and South America. The serious health consequences of the disease, which can sometimes prove fatal, include damage to the heart and digestive system. Studies by Previato have helped shed light on the molecular components driving communication between host cells and Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan parasite responsible for the disease.
Kankan Bhattacharyya, professor, physical chemistry department, Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata, has won the 2007 TWAS Prize in chemistry for his seminal contributions to unravelling the complexities of ultrafast dynamics in organized and biological assemblies. Bhattacharyya’s research interests have focused on femtosecond laser spectroscopy to examine, for example, polymers, proton/electron transfer, and nanoporous solids. One of his most significant discoveries is that water molecules confined to a nanocavity display an ultraslow dynamic that can be 1000 times slower than the dynamics in bulk water.
Paulo Artaxo, professor, Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, has won the 2007 TWAS Prize for earth sciences for his outstanding contributions to our understanding of the impact that aerosol particles, emitted during biomass burning, have on cloud formation and radiation balance in the Amazon basin. He also conducted the first studies examining how natural biogenic aerosol particles help maintain the biochemistry of Amazonian ecosystems by affecting cloud condensation and, consequently, precipitation and climate. In addition, he has undertaken in-depth studies of urban air pollution in São Paulo, again paying special attention to the source and impact of aerosol particles. Artaxo has served as a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 1. The IPCC shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for their combined efforts in increasing public understanding and awareness of climate change.
Chih-Kung Lee, professor, Institute of Applied Mechanics, National Taiwan University, Taipei, has won the 2007 TWAS Prize in the engineering sciences for his fundamental contributions to increasing our understanding of the role that interdisciplinary systems play in such fields as optics, nano-biomechanics and plasmonics. His inventions of model sensors and piezoelectric transformers, for example, helped open a new research line in the field of smart structures. IBM has recognized his research and insights, which have led to significant advances in storage devices for magnetic disks and laser encoders for nanometre metrology. He has also been a driving force in promoting education and public understanding of nanotechnology in Taiwan.
Shrikrishna Dani, senior professor, School of Mathematics, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, has been named the winner of the 2007 TWAS Prize in mathematics for his fundamental contributions to the study of unipotent flows on homogenous spaces of Lie groups. He has also made significant contributions to probability measures on Lie groups. Dani is also well known for his work on the behaviour of orbits on homogenous space concerning, for example, closure, distribution, recurrence, boundedness and divergence, and for relating these factors to questions in Diophantine approximation. His results on uniform recurrence of trajectories of unipotent flows played an important role in Ratner’s proof of Raghunathan conjecture. With G.A. Margulis, Dani has made notable improvements to Ratner’s uniform distribution theorum and deduced a quantitative version of the Oppenheim conjecture.
Sergio Danilo Junho Pena, professor, Departamento de Bioquimica e Imunologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, has won he 2007 TWAS Prize in the medical sciences for his significant contributions to human and parasite molecular genetics. He has received international recognition for his investigations into clinical, microbiological and population genetics. He has also used Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA analysis to trace the genetic ancestry of Brazil’s diverse population. In addition, Slzano has applied his knowledge in very practical ways, for example, to develop techniques for paternity investigations. He created and currently directs the Danilo Pena Foundation providing grants to highly intelligent, poor children to attend high school and college.
Jie Zhang, president, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has won the 2007 TWAS Prize in Physics for his significant contributions to the development of saturated x-ray lasers and high-power femtosecond laser-interaction with matter. Early in his career, he conducted research at the Max-Planck Institute in Germany and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, focusing on x-ray lasers and laser-plasma physics. He returned to China in 1998 to join the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics. Working with a group of young returnee scientists, he has helped build powerful laser systems, advanced target chambers and sophisticated diagnostic equipment. These efforts have led to investigations increasing our understanding of the processes responsible for the generation and propagation of high-energy fast electrons in laser-plasma interactions.