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Nitin Kotak gets key research post

Indian American Nitin Kotak has been elected vice president and chief financial officer of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) engaged in advancing scientific research and education in the US. Kotak, 53, joins the Institute from Bethesda-based Technest Holdings, Inc., where he was chief financial officer and treasurer. ‘Nitin comes to us with great enthusiasm for our mission and significant experience in financial analysis, reporting, and compliance,’ said Cheryl Moore, HHMI’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. At HHMI, Kotak will oversee budget and financial analysis, the controller’s office, treasury, internal audit, and procurement.

Five Indian Americans win Soros Fellowship for 2011

Five Indian American students have won the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships, worth $90,000 for over two years for new Americans. Samir Mayekar, Aadel Chaudhuri, Deepa Galaiya, Vivek Ramaswamy and Shankar Sarkar are the recipients of the fellowship. Mayekar, of Houston, served as National Security Director in the White House's Presidential Personnel Office, where he managed the selection process for presidential appointees at all national security agencies. Chaudhuri, 28, currently finishing his Ph.D in biology at California Institute of Technology, focuses his research on small RNAs in cancer and the immune system. Galaiya, 24, is currently on a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellowship.

Ramaswamy, 25, of Cincinnati, graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard in 2007, majoring in biology.

Sarkar, 25, born in Morristown, NJ, earned undergraduate degrees in applied mathematics and statistics from Harvard and won election to Phi Beta Kappa.

[ BY VRN ]

Jewelers found guilty of movie-style robbery

Two Indian-American jewelers have been found guilty of staging a fake heist straight out of the movie 'Snatch' to get a $7 million insurance payout. The phony robbery was a 'desperate gamble' by jewelers Atul Shah and Mahaveer Kankariyam that went wrong, a New York judge ruled finding each man guilty on all seven counts, New York Daily News reported. Shah, 49, and Kankariya, 44, face up to 15 years prison when sentenced in the New Year's Eve, 2008 heist. Prosecutors had said the pair paid guys dressed as Hasidic Jews to barge into their store with fake guns, just like in the 2001 Guy Ritchie movie. The jewelers' insurance bid went sour after officials recovered surveillance video of Shah and Kankariya clearing out a safe two hours before the fake gunmen got there on Dec 31, 2008, Daily News said. The partners had attempted to destroy the evidence, pouring Drano over the recording equipment in their offices, but the video was in good enough shape for technicians to repair it.

Community rallies behind Mahesh Bhagia

On March 18, at the TV Asia studios in Edison, over 400 individuals representing dozens of community, business, and neighborhood organizations gathered in support of Edison Council Candidate Mahesh Bhagia. Also in attendance were elected officials from the Middlesex County Democratic Organization and Edison Democratic Organization. Freeholder James Polos introduced Mr. Bhagia to a roaring crowd and thunderous applause. “Here is a man who we have a moral duty to support” said Freeholder Polos. “This is the first time in a long time that Edison’s Indo-American Community is so excited and united behind a candidate,” said Harish Verma, a Edison Committeeman, Zoning Board member and President of the Village Point Association. The party committee is set to vote to determine which candidates will get the Democrat Party line in a contested primary election. Mr. Bhagia runs a major Fortune 500 IT firm.

MIT honors two Indian American professors

Two Indian-origin professors are among the four to have been named 2011 MacVicar Faculty Fellows for their outstanding undergraduate teaching, mentoring and educational innovation at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This year's honorees are Bishwapriya (Bish) Sanyal of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning; Christopher Schuh of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; and George Verghese and Patrick Winston, both of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Bishwapriya Sanyal, who received his PhD in urban and regional planning from the University of California at Los Angeles, joined the MIT faculty in 1984 after previously working for the World Bank, and served as the head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning from 1994 to 2002 and chair of the MIT faculty from 2007 to 2009. George Verghese, a professor of electrical engineering, has been part of the MIT faculty since 1979. He received his B Tech from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1974; his MS from the State University of New York, Stony Brook in 1975; and his PhD from Stanford University in 1979, all in electrical engineering.

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