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Gita Gopinath, Kamlesh Lulla among 34 immigrants honoured by prestigious American Foundation


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IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath

IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath and NASA scientist Kamlesh Lulla are among the 34 immigrants honoured by a prestigious American foundation ahead of the US Independence Day “who have enriched and strengthened” the US society and democracy through their contributions and actions. Gopinath and Lulla are among the ‘2021 Great Immigrants’ honourees named by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a non-profit organisation.

“This year, our foundation honours 34 naturalised citizens who have strengthened our nation through their lives and examples.

“The Class of 2021 represents more than 30 countries of origin and emphasises service to society, including honourees who are recognised for helping others as medical providers and researchers; as advocates for the disadvantaged, disabled, and disenfranchised; and as changemakers in politics, voting rights, climate change, and teaching,” the Corporation said.

The 2021 honourees, who mark the 16th class of Great Immigrants, will be recognised with a full-page public service announcement in the New York Times on the US Independence Day on July 4 and through a social media campaign.

In the profile for 49-year-old International Monetary Fund (IMF) Chief Economist Gopinath, Carnegie noted that she is “one of the world’s outstanding economists” and focuses her research on international finance and macroeconomics.
Gopinath says “her most important advice is to have inner strength because you really have to believe in what you are capable of to keep pushing your ideas forward”, according to her profile.

“It’s exactly what the world is worried about: recession, jobs, inequality. It’s so clear to people these are important issues. And given my science background, I like that I’m bringing in some mathematical rigor … to understand these issues of the day,” she is quoted as saying in the profile.

Gopinath has been widely published in top economics journals and has received numerous honours, including election as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2019, she was awarded the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman, the highest honour the Indian government gives to overseas Indians and persons of Indian origin.

A widely published author, Lulla is a senior advisor for university research and technology collaboration at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre and the former chief scientist for Earth Observations (Space Shuttle).

“He has trained astronauts, helped develop the International Space Station’s observational science capabilities, and published vital research on topics such as climate change science,” Carnegie said, adding that an internationally recognised scientist with a storied career at NASA that has spanned more than three decades, Lulla is the recipient of three NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals.

The president of Ohio University has called Lulla a “genuine people-to-people ambassador for the United States” who promotes understanding through science diplomacy. He has been praised for his mentoring skills, and for how much he has done to develop young talent in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

“Furthermore, Lulla is committed to the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders community, working to raise awareness about the role of Asian Americans in various fields,” the corporation said.

Lulla’s honours include the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award and the Ellison Onizuka Award, named after the Asian American astronaut who inspired him.

“Lulla credits his successful career to values drawn from his Asian American heritage, including “high-level education (two PhD degrees); dedication to family and profession; integrity, respect for others, and hard work”, the corporation said.

This year’s honourees include Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla, Google’s Director of Engineering and Technical Projects Lead Ivan Poupyrev, creator of language-learning software Duolingo Luis von Ahn and celebrities such as actress Helen Mirren and comedian John Oliver.

The Great Immigrants initiative is intended to increase public awareness of immigration’s role in the US, reflecting the priorities of Andrew Carnegie, a self-made industrialist.

In 1911, he established Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grantmaking foundation dedicated to the causes of democracy, education, and international peace. To date, the Corporation has honoured more than 600 outstanding immigrants.

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