Indian American scientist wins top prize
Jagadish Shukla, an Indian American scientist, has been awarded the 52nd International Meteorological Organization (IMO) Prize, for his research on monsoons and establishing a scientific model for climate prediction.
Considered the highest international award in the field of meteorology, the prestigious award was presented to Shukla by Alexander Bedritsky, president of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) at a ceremony at the US National Academy of Sciences last week.
Previous winners of the annual prize included several noted scientists like Lennart Bengtsson (2006), Shukla's long-time collaborator, as well as Jule Charney (1971) and Edward Lorenz (2000), Shukla's doctoral advisers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his Sc.D. in 1976.
Shukla, distinguished professor of George Mason University, was given the award in recognition of "...his research on monsoons and coupled ocean-land-atmosphere interactions establishing a scientific basis for predictability of climate in the midst of chaotic weather."
His "contributions to fostering international cooperation in weather and climate research by developing and leading numerous international research programmes and creating new institutions worldwide for improving weather and climate research and the betterment of global society," were also cited.
In a congratulatory message read out at the ceremony, Indian Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Kapil Sibal announced the government's decision to designate Shukla as the Chairman of an International Advisory Panel on Meteorology and Climate. His services will also be used for setting up a world-class institute for climate change research in India.
Recalling Shukla's multifaceted accomplishments, Indian Ambassador to the US Ronen Sen said two decades ago, when he was an aide to then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, he had witnessed the scientist's extraordinary competence and commitment.
When the Reagan administration supplied a Cray supercomputer to India, the first to any country outside the Western military alliance, at the instance of Gandhi, Shukla used it to help set up the National Centre of Medium Range Weather Forecasting in New Delhi within a year.
In his acceptance speech, Shukla demonstrated great pride in his Indian roots and reiterated his commitment to further strengthening strategic partnership between India and the US. He also recounted his journey from the remote Mirdha village in the Ballia district of Uttar Pradesh, to his present position as an internationally acclaimed researcher, educationist and institution builder.
Even as he has steadily gained international recognition, Shukla has continuously retained close and abiding ties with his native country, which he visits at least once every year.
Shukla is the founder-president of premier research institutions like the Centre for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA) and the Centre for Research on Environment and Water (CREW). He also founded and nurtured the Gandhi College in his birthplace at Mirdha village in Uttar Pradesh for education of rural women.
Shukla received his Ph.D. from Benaras Hindu University, India and his Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has received the Walker Gold Medal of the Indian Meteorological Society, the Carl Gustav Rossby Research Medal from the American Meteorological Society, and the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a fellow of the Indian Meteorological Society and an associate fellow of the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World.
Shukla is also a Commissioner on the Virginia Governor's Commission on Climate Change. He is currently a member of the Joint Scientific Committee of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) of the WMO and Chair of the WCRP Modelling Panel.