Washington, Feb 2 (IANS) President Barack Obama has awarded Rangaswamy Srinivasan, an Indian-American co-inventor of LASIK eye surgery, with a national medal for science, technology and innovation along with 22 other researchers and inventors.
Srinivasan, 82, an inventor at IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Centre, received the 2011 National Medal of Technology and innovation with Samuel Blumand James Wynne.
They were awarded for "the pioneering discovery of excimer laser ablative photodecomposition of human and animal tissue, laying the foundation for PRK and LASIK, laser refractive surgical techniques that have revolutionized vision enhancement," according to the White House citation.
Lauding the recipients for their hard work and contributions at a White House ceremony Friday, Obama joked that they represented "the greatest collection of brainpower we've had under this roof in a long time."
The medals represent the highest honours the US government can give to scientists, engineers, and inventors.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House, Obama flanked by Dr. Subra Suresh, Indian-American head of the National Science Foundation, thanked the recipients for "the sacrifices they've made, the chances they've taken, [and] the gallons of coffee they've consumed."
The president also used the opportunity to make a pitch for increased focus on science and technology education, as well as immigration reform.
"In a global economy, where the best jobs follow talent, whether in Calcutta or Cleveland, we need to do everything we can to encourage that same kind of passion" that has led to scientific breakthroughs and innovation, he said.