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NRI News 2022

NRI News

Indian American Professor receives University System of Georgia Hall of Fame Faculty Award

Indian American Professor receives University System of Georgia Hall of Fame Faculty Award

Associate Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, Arpita Saha, Ph.D., was chosen unanimously as the winner of the 2021 Felton Jenkins Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for the University System of Georgia.

“As a professor, mentor, and chemist, I feel overwhelmingly proud to achieve this honor,” Saha said. “I would like to sincerely thank Georgia Southern University for providing me the resources and support. To me, the true meaning of teaching is the ability to touch lives, nurturing possibilities, guiding creative minds, and mak[ing] every student feel that they belong in my classroom and research lab. I must acknowledge my wonderful and talented colleagues from whom I have learned a great deal of leadership in mentoring.”

Saha will be recognized at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala next September by the Chancellor, the regents, the presidents and her peers.

“When the pandemic brought much to a standstill, Dr. Saha demonstrated resolve in supporting her students through innovations with instructional technology,” Executive Vice Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, Tristan Denley, said in a letter to Saha. “At the college level, she mentored new programs through the curricular process, developing new environmental chemistry courses with a new curriculum.”

Along with the award, Saha will receive a $5,000 prize at the gala.

“This recognition not only reassures my passion for mentoring but also reminds me that teaching is a privilege and [a] responsibility,” Saha said. “My teaching strategy involves engaging students in enjoyable, informative, hands-on and interactive activities for making the subject more tangible and [for] connecting chemistry to everyday life. I find teaching is liberating and exhilarating – as it enables me to create pathways of success for my students through scientific literacy, research, and scholarly activities.”

Gita Gopinath, an Indian-American, to become IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director

The IMF on Friday said its First Deputy Managing Director (FDMD), Geoffrey Okamoto, will leave early next year and Gita Gopinath, currently the Chief Economist, is proposed to replace him.

Ten people have occupied the IMF’s FDMD chair since the position was created in 1949. Gita will be the IMF’s eleventh FDMD and the second woman to hold that position.

In a statement from Washington, D.C., IMF’s Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva, said: “I am delighted that Gita has decided to stay and accept the new responsibility.”

Gopinath, now a US citizen, was to return to her position as the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics, Harvard University, in January 2022.

It is noteworthy that Gopinath wasn’t always the ‘topper’ type she became as an economics undergraduate in Delhi’s Lady Shriram College. Till class 7, she was scoring at around 45 per cent; and then toyed with the idea of professional sports. Also, she briefly showed up for modeling.

In an interview with an Indian weekly some years back, her mother, V.C. Vijayalakshmi, had talked of her daughter’s ascent since Class 7: “The girl who used to score 45 per cent (till class seven) started scoring 90 per cent.”

She went on to do well academically, earning an intermediate degree in science at Maharaja PU in Mysore and ‘topping’ her peers at Delhi University while earning her BA.

“She created quite a flutter by bagging the gold medal, as LSR had beaten St. Stephen’s for the first time – and by just two marks[!]”

Like many kids her age in India, Gopinath also entertained the idea of taking the civil service exam and of earning an MBA, too.

Today, the IMF Managing Director spoke praised Gita Gopinath, saying, “Given that the pandemic has led to an increase in the scale and scope of the macroeconomic challenges facing our member countries, I believe that Gita – universally recognised as one of the world’s leading macroeconomists – has precisely the expertise that we need for the FDMD role at this point. Indeed, her particular skill set – combined with her years of experience at the Fund as Chief Economist – make[s] her uniquely well qualified. She is the right person at the right time.”

Georgieva, a Bulgarian economist, noted that Gopinath’s contribution has already been exceptional, especially her “intellectual leadership in helping the global economy and the Fund … navigate the twists and turns of the worst economic crisis of our lives”.

She said Gopinath – also the first female Chief Economist in IMF history – has garnered respect and admiration across the IMF member countries and across the institution itself, with her proven track record in leading analytically rigorous work on a broad range of issues.

Georgieva said that the IMF’s Research Department had gone “from strength to strength”, particularly highlighting its contributions in multilateral surveillance via The World Economic Outlook, a new analytical approach to help countries respond to international capital flows (the integrated policy framework), and work on a Pandemic Plan to end the COVID-19 crisis by setting targets for vaccinating the world at a feasible cost.

Born in Kolkata, Gopinath will take the lead on surveillance and related policies, oversee research and flagship publications, and help foster standards for Fund publications.

Gopinath earned her Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2001. She earned her B.A. from LSR, and earned her M.A. degrees from the Delhi School of Economics and the University of Washington.

She is the younger of the two daughters of T.V. Gopinath and Vijayalakshmi. They are both from Kannur, Kerala and settled in Mysuru.

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