WASHINGTON (TIP): PresidentBarack Obama, presented theprestigious National Medal ofTechnology and Innovation to eminentIndian American RangaswamySrinivasan for his groundbreakingwork with laser.Rangaswamy received the awardalong with Samuel Blum and JamesWynne, for the pioneering discovery ofexcimer laser ablativephotodecomposition of human andanimal tissue, laying the foundationfor PRK and LASIK laser refractivesurgical techniques, that haverevolutionized vision enhancement.
At a glittering function heldFebruary 1 at the White House, Obamapresented National Medal of Scienceto 12 eminent scientists while 11extraordinary inventors receivedNational Medal of Technology andInnovation, the highest honorsbestowed by the United StatesGovernment upon scientists,engineers, and inventors.Established by statute in 1980, theNational Medal of Technology andInnovation was first awarded in 1985and is administered for the WhiteHouse by the US Department ofCommerce’s Patent and TrademarkOffice.
Congratulating scientists andinventors Obama said if there is oneidea that sets this country apart, oneidea that makes it different from everyother nation on Earth, it’s that here inAmerica, success does not depend onwhere one is born or what his / herlast name is.”Success depends on the ideas thatyou can dream up, the possibilitiesthat you envision, and the hard work,the blood, sweat and tears you’rewilling to put in to make them real,”he said.”We have a map of the humangenome and new ways to producerenewable energy. We’re learning togrow organs in the lab and betterunderstand what’s happening in ourdeepest oceans.
And if that’s not enough, the peopleon this stage are also going to beresponsible for devising a formula totame frizzy hair as well as inspiringthe game Tetris,” Obama said amidstlaughter.”It is a huge honor to receive thisaward for our research more thanthirty years after its initial discovery.This achievement is a reflection ofIBM’s culture of innovation, to thinkfar into the future, and a result ofenabling different disciplines to cometogether to tackle real-world challengeswith a broad domain of expertise,” saidDr Wynne of IBM Research.
In 1981, Srinivasan discovered thatan ultraviolet excimer laser could etchliving tissue in a precise manner withno thermal damage to the surroundingarea. He named the phenomenonAblative Photodecomposition (APD),which later revolutionized eye surgery.Inducted into the US “Inventor Hallof Fame” in 2002, Srinivasan has spent30 years at IBM’s T J Watson ResearchCenter. He received both bachelor’sand master’s degrees in science fromthe University of Madras, in 1949 and1950. He earned doctorate in physicalchemistry at the University ofSouthern California in 1956. Hecurrently holds 21 US patents.
The 12 winners of the NationalMedal of Science are:
The 11 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are: