Indian-American early career scientists, engineers get Presidential Awards


President Donald Trump announced July 2, the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the government to outstanding scientists and engineers who are beginning their independent research careers and who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology. Indian-Americans from around the country were prominent on the PECASE list.

Piya Pal, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at U California, San Diego. (Photo: LinkedIn)

At least 21 Indian-American scientists and engineers were chosen from the scores selected for the 2019 award which was established in 1996, and is coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy with participating departments and agencies such as the Department of Defense (DOD) or the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The two states which had the highest number of Indian-American awardees (three each), were California and New York. Notably, nine of the 21 candidates were nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services; 6 by the DOD, 4 by the NSF, and one each by the Department of Commerce and the Department of Energy.

Eight out of the 21 awardees are women.

The biographies of each of the awardees shows their high accomplishments at a young age, and is part of the U.S. effort to retain, grow American science and technology and maintain the nation’s leadership in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

To be eligible for a Presidential Award, an individual must be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident.

List of Indian-origin awardees:


1.Sanjay Basu, Stanford University, Department of Health and Human Services

  1. Shafali Jeste, University of California – Los Angeles, Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Piya Pal, University of California – San Diego, Department of Defense

    Professor Dhruv Batra of Georgia Institute of Technology. (Photo: Twitter)


  1. Dhruv Batra, Georgia Institute of Technology, Department of Defense
  2. Subbian Panayampalli, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Department of Health and Human Services


  1. Vivek Agarwal, Idaho National Laboratory, Department of Energy


  1. Gaurav Bahl, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, Department of Defense
  2. Prashant Jain, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, National Science Foundation


  1. Anish Thomas, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Varun Verma, National Institute of Standards and Technology Physical Measurement Laboratory, Department of Commerce


  1. Barna Saha, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, National Science Foundation
  2. Yogesh Surendranath, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Defense


  1. Bharat Jalan, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, Department of Defense

New Jersey

  1. Arvind Narayanan, Princeton University, National Science Foundation

New York

  1. Sandeep Mallipattu, Stony Brook School of Medicine, Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Priya Rajasethupathy, Rockefeller University, Department of Health and Human Services
  3. Neville Sanjana, New York Genome Center, Department of Health and Human Services

Rhode Island

  1. Sohini Ramachandran, Brown University, Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Anita Shukla, Brown University, Department of Defense


  1. Meenakshi Madhur, Vanderbilt University, Department of Health and Human Services


  1. Nitya Kallivayalil, University of Virginia, National Science Foundation


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