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3 Indians win UK’s prestigious Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists

3 Indians win UK’s prestigious Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists
January 24
14:10 2024

London, Jan 24 (IANS) Three Indian scientists are among the nine recipients of this year’s Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists in the UK for their pioneering work in the fields of chemical, physical, and life sciences.

Professors Rahul R. Nair, Mehul Malik, Dr Tanmay Bharat, and others will be honoured and receive grants totaling 480,000 pounds at a black-tie gala dinner and award ceremony in London, on February 27.

“Providing recognition and funding early in a scientist’s career can make the difference between discoveries that remain in the lab and those that make transformative scientific breakthroughs,” said Sir Leonard Blavatnik, Founder and Chairman of Access Industries and Head of the Blavatnik Family Foundation.

“We are proud that the Awards have promoted both UK science and the careers of many brilliant young scientists and we look forward to their additional discoveries in the years ahead.”

Professor Nair, a materials physicist at The University of Manchester, was named Laureate in Physical Sciences & Engineering for developing novel membranes based on two-dimensional (2D) materials that will enable energy-efficient separation and filtration technologies.

Using graphene and other 2D materials, his research aims to study the transport of water, organic molecules, and ions at the nanoscale, exploring its potential applications to address societal challenges, including water filtration and other separation technologies.

He will receive 100,000 pounds in unrestricted funds for his research that has provided valuable insights “into the movement of water and other molecules in nano-capillaries, as those movements differ from their behaviour on the macro scale,” the award statement said.

A Quantum physicist and Professor of Physics, Professor Mehul Malik, is advancing quantum communications at Heriot-Watt University through revolutionary techniques that harness high-dimensional entanglement — a complex quantum physics phenomenon.

His innovations enable the normally fragile entanglement to survive long distances and harsh conditions, laying the foundation for noise-robust and high-capacity quantum networks that securely transmit large amounts of information encoded on individual photons.

Dr Bharat, a structural microbiologist and programme leader in the Structural Studies Division at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, has developed and applied cutting-edge cryo-ET techniques to create atomic-level pictures of cell surface molecules on microorganisms.

According to the award committee, his work has important biomedical implications, since most pathogenic bacteria infect humans by forming multicellular, antibiotic-resistant, biofilm communities.

In addition, his work is also vital for the fundamental understanding of the dynamics of cell-to-cell interactions that led to the historical evolution of multicellular life on earth, a statement read.

Both Bharat and Malik will receive a grant of 30,000 pounds for their research.

The 2024 Awards received 84 nominations from 40 academic and research institutions and this year’s laureates were selected by an independent jury of expert scientists across the UK.

Now in its seventh year, the awards — instituted by the Blavatnik Family Foundation and The New York Academy of Sciences — have donated 3.3 million pounds to scientists across UK academia since their inception.

A day after the award ceremony in London, the honourees will present their research with a series of short, interactive lectures at a free public symposium at the RSA House in London.

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