UT Dallas bioengineering head to be inducted as Fellow of Royal Society

April 25th, 2012
Dr. Mathukumalli Vidyasagar, an internationally known expert in control and system theory, has been elected a Fellow of The Royal Society, the oldest continuously operating scientific society in the world.

Vidyasagar, head of the Department of Bioengineering at The University of Texas at Dallas, joins the ranks of the most distinguished international scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering and medicine.

Vidyasagar's selection recognizes his contributions to various aspects of control and system theory, robotics, statistical learning theory and computational biology. His citation reads: "He has combined probability theory, combinatorics, and artificial intelligence to produce a beautiful unified theory of statistical learning, and used it to solve NP-hard design problems."

Vidyasagar's pattern in life has been to master a subject area, write a book about it, and then move to a different research problem at the forefront of the field. Two of his books co-authored with Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of UT Dallas' Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, are among the most popular textbooks on robot dynamics and control.

"Joining the Fellowship of the Royal Society is the proudest moment of my career. The joy and satisfaction this election brings is immeasurable."

Vidyasagar holds the Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair in Systems Biology Science at UT Dallas and leads the bioengineering department in the Jonsson School. The department collaborates with other schools within the University, UT Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Texas at Arlington.

"Dr. Vidyasagar has made many fundamental contributions in several areas of engineering, including control theory, robotics, and learning theory, which have earned him numerous awards and an international reputation as an outstanding scientist," Spong said. "His latest work in the area of computational biology, in collaboration with UT Southwestern Medical Center, has the potential to greatly advance our knowledge of the causes of cancer and the effectiveness of new drugs for the treatment of cancer. Election to the Royal Society is a very high honor and brings distinction to him, the Jonsson School, and to UT Dallas."

A native of India, Vidyasagar attended the University of Wisconsin and earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering by age 17. At 21, he completed his doctorate and by age 35, he was given an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers fellowship for "contributions to the stability analysis of linear and nonlinear distributed systems."

Vidyasagar spent his early career as a professor at Concordia University in Montreal and the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Canada. Then he directed the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics within the Indian government's Ministry of Defense. During that period, his organization made a robot that could play chess, one of the first in the world at the time. The group also created a 3-D virtual reality environment to train fighter pilots for their missions.

He then became an executive vice president of Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest software company and one of the 10 largest in the world. He managed a team of 80 engineers and scientists working on advanced encryption methods, open-source software, quantitative finance and bioinformatics.

Under his leadership, the company helped ensure the authenticity of electronic signatures through digital certificates, educational transcripts through an RFID chip embedded into the document and identity through electronic processing of passport applications.

He retired from the company in 2009 and came to UT Dallas.

Vidyasagar will be inducted into the Royal Society on July 13 in London. The Royal Society was founded in 1660 and is based in the United Kingdom. There are approximately 1,450 Fellows and foreign members, including more than 80 Nobel Laureates. The society's purpose is to recognize, promote and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefits of humanity.

Provided by University of Texas at Dallas

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