Wednesday, January 25, 2012

HHMI International Awards

Howard Hughes Medical Institute has announced the winners of its International Early Career Awards, meant for (non-US) researchers who "trained in the United States as a graduate student or a postdoctoral fellow and have published important research." And each awardee will "receive $650,000: $100,000 a year for five years plus $150,000 the first year for major equipment purchases and other investments."

HHMI's elite list features one Indian scientist: Sandhya Koushika of the National Centre for Biological Sciences [link via Subhra Priyadarshini].

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This is the first time for these awards. Also, the awards are meant for a special group of people (who have done their doctoral or post-doctoral research in the US). The country-wise break-up of the applicant pool is not known. And, finally, the numbers are small -- we are in the anecdote territory, not the statistical one.

All these factors make it difficult for us to say anything meaningful about the country-wise break-up of the HHMI awardees.

But some comparisons become inevitable: one that stares at us (because our leaders -- including Prime Minister -- seem obsessed about it) is this: China leads the list with seven IECS awards, while India has just one.

The countries with the most IECS awardees are China (7), Portugal (5), and Spain (5), but recipients are also based in nine other countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hungary, India, Italy, Poland, South Africa, and South Korea. Nine of the 28 (32 percent) are women.