The prestigious IIT Madras Distinguished Alumnus Awards were instituted in 1996. They are awarded annually to alumni of the institute in recognition of their professional or individual achievements or for service they have rendered to the community. The awards are presented annually.
Dr. S. Christopher received a doctoral degree in Antennae and Measurement Techniques from IIT Madras in 1987. Prior to that, he obtained a B.E. (Honours) in Electronics and Communication Engineering from University of Madras, and an M.Tech. in Microwaves and Radar Engineering from IIT Kharagpur.
Dr. Christopher began what was to become an illustrious career as a Senior Engineer in M/s Bharat Electronics, before going on to join the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) at Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) as Scientist 'D'. It was in this position that he led a team to create the Indigenous Automated Planar Near-Field Measurement Facility at LRDE, a first in the country at the time. Over the years, he headed many projects including the development and design of slotted array technology that was later used in many airborne and missile projects. He was also the Project Director for, amongst several such instances, the development of the Maritime Patrol Airborne Radar, Super Vision 2000, for the Indian Navy. In the years that followed, he served as the Programme Director for the Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) and as Director, Centre for Air-Borne Systems (CABS).
Apart from his many positions of responsibility in leading national organizations and labs, Dr. Christopher is also a Fellow of the National Academy of Engineers (FNAE), Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI) and the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunications Engineers (IETE). Further, he is a member of SEE, IEEE and has been the recipient of many awards and accolades, including 'DRDO Scientist of the Year' in 1998. In 2014, he was given the DRDO Agni Award for Excellence in Self Reliance. He has also received several Establishment Republic Day Awards over the years. Dr. Christopher's dedication to research is evident through his tryst with academia as well, reflected in the existence of over seventy papers to his name as well as numerous patents and copyrights.
For Dr. Christopher's monumental contribution to the growth of defence-related research and development in the country, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer on him this award.
Dr. Sridhar Vembu graduated with a B.Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1989, before completing a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1994. Following his doctoral degree, he served as a Systems Design Engineer in Qualcomm till 1996, focusing on CDMA for satellite communications, and working with leaders in the area of wireless communication. In 1996, Dr. Vembu, along with his friends and his brothers, co-founded AdventNet as one of the earliest software product companies from India.
Over the past 2 decades, the company grew and changed its name to Zoho Corp. It is the leading software product company from India, and an emerging leader in the cloud, with over 3000 employees as of 2016.
Dr. Vembu is also committed to the cause of employability and growth, evident in the launch of the in-house initiative, Zoho University. At the University, students from underprivileged backgrounds are trained in programming and provided the opportunity of being absorbed by the company. Today, over 300 students across almost 30 batches have graduated from the program and are employed by the company. Employees who chose to leave Zoho after training have gone on to launch successful start-ups of their own. Firmly believing in the need to look beyond formal credentials, Dr. Vembu has created in Zoho a space to nurture talent and hard work independent of credentials.
Zoho's background of being entirely bootstrapped, coupled with Dr. Vembu's determination to avoid venture capitalists and IPOs as sources of funding, has resulted in the organization's unwavering commitment to ideation, innovation and internal growth.
For his commitment to originality, his willingness to navigate uncharted waters in the entrepreneurial space, and his continued dedication to building an equitable, accessible and socially responsible corporation, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer this award upon Dr. Sridhar Vembu.
Dr. Thomas Kodenkandath received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from IIT Madras in 1990. He has an illustrious career in science and technology and is also an award-winning cartoonist.
Dr. Kodenkandath is a scientist at Hazen Research, USA and is one of the founders of Appli3D, LLC, a start-up dedicated to advance 3D- printing-based manufacturing. He was a Program Manager at ITN Energy and Ascent Solar, Scientist at American Superconductors, Advanced Materials Research Centre, Imperial College and was a Fellow of UNESCO as a "Promising Young Scientist form Developing Countries".
Dr. Kodenkandath has made significant contributions in R&D that resulted in more than 15 patents, 75 publications, many invited lectures and a large number of citations. His career highlight is a paper published in J. American Chemical Society (JACS) in 2009 on the discovery of an unprecedented class of materials, with a new structure, which is considered as pioneering in the field of rational design and synthesis of materials with predicable composition, structure and properties. The proudest moment of his industrial R&D career was when TIME magazine selected the flexible solar cells that he helped develop at Ascent Solar as one of the best inventions of 2011.
It is, however, his excellence in cartooning under the name "Thommy" that sets Dr. Kodenkandath apart. He is the first non-resident Indian recipient of the Kerala State Lalithakala Academy Award for Editorial Cartooning in 2012, and was a winner of the international poster competition conducted by UNESCO to celebrate 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry. In 2008, he was the only scientist to win the Science Idol cartooning competition conducted by Union of Concerned Scientists (USA). Currently, his cartoons regularly appear in India-West and Malayalam Pathram (USA), Gulf News (UAE) and Mathrubhoomi (Kerala). His credentials as a cartoonist earned him an Honorary Associateship of the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC). While at IIT-M, his cartoons appeared regularly in Campus Times and Spectator; he won the Mardi Gras Prize twice as well as the Kalakrithi Award of Anna University for cartooning.
Dr. Kodenkandath represented IIT-M at three inter-IIT meets in Field Hockey. He was the captain of the Cauvery team that won the inter-hostel 4-a-side hockey tournament, making it the first PG hostel to earn that honour.
In recognition of his excellence as a materials scientist and distinction as an editorial cartoonist, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer this award upon Dr. Kodenkandath (aka Thommy).
Dr. Thomas J. Colacot received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from IIT Madras in 1989, following a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Kerala in 1981 and 1983, respectively. After his post-doctoral stint in the US, Dr. Colacot went on to pursue an education in management, acquiring an MBA from Pennsylvania State University in 2005, while working at Johnson Matthey. Before joining Johnson Matthey in 1995, Dr. Colacot had also worked as a Research Associate at Southern Methodist University (TX, USA) on a project funded by Advanced Technology Program, as an Assistant Professor at Florida A&M University, and as a Post-Doctoral/Teaching Fellow at University of Alabama. Having climbed up the ranks from Development Associate, Dr. Colacot is currently promoted to Johnson Matthey Technical Fellow from Global R&D Manager in Homogeneous Catalysis.
As a researcher, Dr. Colacot has focused on many areas of homogenous catalysis, particularly becoming proficient in palladium-catalyzed cross-coupling. He also has extensive experience in organometallic and organic syntheses, and in process chemistry. His work is reflected in several patents to his name, more than one hundred peer-reviewed publications, and numerous invited lectures and seminars spanning India, USA, China, and Europe. His recently edited book: New Trends in Cross Coupling: Theory and Applications by the Royal Society of Chemistry is widely used in academia and industry. Through his work, Dr. Colacot is credited with being a leading influence in developing exceptional catalytic systems for the advancement of metal-catalyzed synthetic organic chemistry for real world applications such as drug development, OLED's/liquid crystals and agriculture. His emphasis in designing catalysts and catalytic processes has been on their applicability in industrial settings, particularly pertaining to agriculture, electronics and medicine.
Dr. Colacot's contributions to the field have resulted in many awards and accolades, amongst them the prestigious Royal Society of Chemistry 2012 Applied Catalysis Award and Medal, 2016 CRSI Medal by the Chemical Research Society of India and election to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Chemistry, UK. He is the first Indian to be awarded the American Chemical Society (ACS) Award in Industrial Chemistry in 2015. He also received the 2015 IPMI Henry Alfred Award (2015) from the International Precious Metal Institute.
For his unparalleled commitment in bridging the gap between academia and industry, and his path-breaking contributions as a chemist, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer this award upon Dr. Thomas Colacot.
Dr. Vaidehi Narayan obtained an M.Sc. degree in Chemistry from IIT Madras in 1981 and continued on to get her Ph.D. in Theoretical Chemistry from the Institute in 1986. Subsequently, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Exeter (UK), the University of Southern California (USA), and the California Institute of Technology (USA). She then became the Director of Biomolecular Simulations at the Materials and Process Simulation Centre at California Institute of Technology, and a Visiting Associate at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Since 2006, she is a Professor of Molecular Immunology at Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope National Medical Center (USA).
Publishing under the name N Vaidehi since her time at IIT Madras, Dr. Narayan has over one hundred peer-reviewed articles and invited reviews to her credit. She has also delivered about sixty invited lectures and seminars in prestigious academic and industry settings. Dr. Narayan has committed herself to developing theoretical methods to make predictions prior to experimentation, in the challenging field of protein structure and dynamics. Her contributions to this field has earned her international recognition including the appreciation of Nobel Laureate Dr. Brian Kobilka, who has acknowledged her work in making successful predictions. Over the years, Dr. Narayan has also dedicated herself as an educator, in particular encouraging and inspiring students from underprivileged backgrounds and women to pursue a career in physical sciences. Towards this cause, she interacts regularly with local high school and college undergraduate students. She has also mentored over fifteen graduate students and twenty postdoctoral Fellows over the years.
Working towards the treatment of cancer and diabetes, she is a pioneer in using protein structure and dynamics for drug design. Her innovative methods for drug design have led to identifying the effectiveness of an anti-malarial drug in treating pancreatic cancer. She is a Member of the American Chemical Society, BioPhysical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In recognition of her innovation and perseverance is using the power of theoretical chemistry to address pressing societal health issues, and of her passion as an educator, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer this award upon Dr. Vaidehi Narayan.
Shri D. Shivakumar graduated from IIT Madras in 1982 with a B.Tech. degree in Aerospace Engineering before going on to pursue a management degree from IIM Calcutta. Shivakumar has worked in some of India's best-run companies - Hindustan Unilever, Nokia and now PepsiCo. Shivakumar, popularly known as Shiv, was behind Nokia's dramatic rise, making it one of the largest multinationals in the country during its heyday between 2007 and 2010. Shiv was a key member of the telecom revolution in India when the nation went from 60 million subscribers to 900 million subscribers. He is currently the Chairman and CEO at PepsiCo India Holdings Pvt. Ltd.
Over the course of his illustrious career, Shiv has proven his mettle as a marketer across multiple brands. Having worked with more than 50 brands, he has been integral to their growth. Through his commitment to innovation, new business models and ecosystem partnerships, the brands have grown in terms of sales as well as geographical diversity. Shiv has been instrumental in driving the sachet revolution in shampoos, creating a DVD and Home Theatre market in Electronics, and driving the penetration of mobiles and the mobile ecosystem in India.
Shiv is also a regular columnist for business publications on emerging markets, on branding, as well as on consumers, followership and leadership. He has taught at business schools across the world. His pioneering work in the telecom industry is taught via case studies in leading universities including Harvard University, the Ivey school of Business and the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad. Shiv contributed to the management movement in India and served as the President of the All India Management Association in the year 2012-2013; he continues to serve on its executive Committee. Currently, he is an Independent Director on the Board of Godrej Consumer Products Ltd., and is a member of the Board of Governors at IIM Ahmedabad. He is the current President of the CII committee on Fast-Moving Consumer Goods. His path-breaking work across the industry in the areas of marketing, leadership and transformative growth has resulted in multiple forms of recognition and accolades, including the 'Most Distinguished Alumnus Award' from IIM Calcutta in 2011.
For his exemplary leadership and commitment to excellence in industry, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer this award upon Shri D. Shivakumar.
Dr. Manthiram received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from IIT Madras in 1981. After brief stints as a Postdoctoral Fellow at IISc Bangalore, as a lecturer in Madurai Kamaraj University, and as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Oxford, England, he went on to join the University of Texas at Austin as a Postdoctoral Researcher in 1986, becoming Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1991. As of 2000, he was appointed as Professor in the same department, earning him a distinguished leadership position in one of the top-ten engineering schools in the United States.
A globally recognized leader in energy materials, Dr. Manthiram directs one of the largest and most productive research groups at the University of Texas at Austin with about 30 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, focused on clean energy technologies, for which he has developed new, low-cost, efficient materials. He has contributed 600 publications (including 520 journal articles, 8 awarded patents, and 16 pending patent applications) and 280 presentations (including 180 invited talks) to the top-most journals and intellectual associations in the field. Further, he is the Regional (USA) Editor of the journal Solid State Ionics, and is serving as an Editorial Board Member of five other international journals, including Chemistry of Materials. He has organized many symposia and chaired numerous sessions at major professional society meetings, in addition to having served as a Chair of the Battery Division for the Electrochemical Society. He co-founded a startup, ActaCell, in 2007.
As a testament to his prowess and acumen in the field, Dr. Arumugam Manthiram is currently the Director of the Texas Materials Institute, the Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Graduate Program, and the Cockrell Family Regents Chair in Engineering. As the Director of the Texas Materials Institute, he provides the vision for and manages the materials education and state-of-the-art materials characterization facilities at the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Manthiram has received numerous awards, among which are: the Engineering Foundation Faculty Excellence Award (1994), the Mechanical Engineering Department Faculty Leadership Award (1996), the Charlotte Maer Patton Centennial Fellowship in Engineering (1998), the Ashley H. Priddy Centennial Professorship in Engineering (2002), the BF Goodrich Endowed Professorship in Materials Engineering (2006), the Joe C. Walter Chair in Engineering (2009), the Mechanical Engineering Department Outstanding Teaching Award (2011), and the University of Texas Outstanding Graduate Teaching award (2012). Most recently, in 2014, he received the Battery Division Research Award of the Electrochemical Society. Dr. Manthiram is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the Electrochemical Society, and the American Association for Advancement of Science.
In recognition of Dr. Arumugam Manthiram's excellence in materials and energy research and education, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer upon him this award.
Dr. Krishna Bharat graduated in 1991 from IIT Madras with a B.Tech. degree in Computer Science. In 1996, having obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech, he joined the staff at DEC Systems Research Center in Palo Alto, California. He joined Google in 1999, where he holds the position of a Distinguished Scientist. At present he is a venture capitalist, and invests and advises startups and non-profits in the technology and journalism areas. He also played a pivotal role in setting up Google's R&D operations in India in 2004, and served as its first Director until 2006.
Dr. Bharat is a technical visionary whose innovations are transforming the consumption of news worldwide. His research interests lie in the area of interactive systems for information access and content creation based on content analysis and predictive intelligence. He is unique in his grasp of both sides of the news equation-technology and media. He has earned the distinction of being one of finest minds in the field of computer science with his innovations such as Google News and Google Finance. Google News, the brainchild of Dr. Bharat, has revolutionized the manner in which news and information is shared and understood by content creators and consumers in this digital age. It sends about 10 billion clicks each month to news publishers' websites. At the core of the system are algorithms and analyses built by Dr. Bharat. He is also credited with being one of the co-inventors of the "Captcha" which is extensively used to determine whether a putative user is a real human. This idea is invoked billions of times every day.
Dr. Bharat's efforts to make professional journalism more widely accessible, and his continuing research in the field of digital dissemination of news and information, has made him the only technologist appointed to the Board of Visitors of the Columbia University School of Journalism; he also serves on the Board of Visitors at Stanford University's John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship program. Other honors that have come his way include: the 2003 World Technology Award for Media and Journalism; the 2003 Webby Award in the News category; and a 2012 GQ India listing among the World's Most Powerful Digital Indians.
In recognition of Dr. Krishna Bharat's research contributions and renowned innovations in the field of interactive systems for information access, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer upon him this award.
Dr. Krishna Chivukula graduated with a M. Tech. in Aeronautical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1970, following a B. Tech. (Honors) in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Bombay in 1968. He received an MBA from Harvard University in 1980, and was awarded a Doctor of Letters (D. Lit.) degree from Tumkur University in 2012.
Dr. Krishna Chivukula rapidly rose though the engineering ranks of Hoffman Industries in USA to become Chief Engineer in 1976. In 1984, after his Harvard MBA, he returned to Hoffman Industries as Group President and CEO, but left in 1990 to start his first company, Shiva Technologies Inc., in Syracuse, New York. Under his leadership, Shiva Technologies grew to # 1 position in the world in the area of trace element analysis using advanced mass spectroscopic techniques. In 1997, Shiva Analyticals Pvt. Ltd. was established in Bangalore.
Also in 1997, Dr. Krishna Chivukula brought state-of-the-art engineering manufacturing technology - metal injection molding (MIM) - to India, while it was still an emerging technology in USA, by starting a second company-- INDO US MIM Tec Pvt. Ltd. -- in Bangalore. Presently, INDO US MIM Tec occupies the number one position in the world in MIM technology in terms of capacity and sales, employing over 2000 highly-qualified personnel, including two Vice-Presidents who are IIT Madras alumni. The firm is the only large scale MIM industry in India, and has a projected turnover of nearly Rs. 1000 Crores. The clients are drawn from around the world, and span a range of industries including industrial, consumer and medical sectors. INDO US MIM Tec has received many international awards in recognition of excellence achieved in various categories. A third company, Gowri Ventures, was started in 2009 in Renigunta with specialization in high - precision investment castings.
Dr. Krishna Chivukula has also engaged in significant philanthropic activities. He is sponsoring a well-coordinated mid-day meal program for 2,200 primary and secondary school children in Bangalore. These children are also provided with healthcare through the Bangalore Baptist Hospital, which receives funding every month so that they can provide free or subsidized health care for poor patients. The Asha Foundation, which provides counselling and healthcare for patients afflicted with HIV/AIDS, is also supported financially. His donation of one million dollars in 2006-07 to Bangalore Baptist Hospital has funded a state-of-the-art operation theater and laboratory facilities. In 2014, he has also adopted a school at Chamarajanagar near Mysore, taking care of the entire expenses of running the school of 300 children from economically weaker backgrounds, including orphaned & destitute children.
In recognition of Dr. Krishna Chivukula's professional excellence and contributions to the community, IIT Madras and its alumni are proud to confer upon him this award.