Saturday, June 11, 2005

Telugu Tad Murty Wins Indo Canada Award

Telugu scientist Tad Murty, originally hailing from Andhra Pradesh, is among ten "superachievers" of Indian origin to be honoured by the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce at a special gala in Toronto tonight. Below is an excerpt from the Toronto Star about Mr. Murty and his achievements:
Tsunami expert Tad Murty — who has fielded more than 400 media interview requests from around the globe since the Dec. 26 Indian Ocean catastrophe — will drive from his home in Ottawa to pick up his award.

It was India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, who inspired Murty's choice of career. Murty was a boy of 14 when Nehru visited his village in Andhra Pradesh in India, shortly after a cyclone hit Orissa. In a speech, Nehru challenged India's scientists to tackle real-life problems such as natural disasters rather than just write equations only they could decipher.

"It's the first time in my life that I heard the term `natural hazard.' It sort of stuck in my mind," says Murty, 67. He went on to do his PhD in oceanography and meteorology at the University of Chicago and worked for the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans for 27 years. He was Canada's representative in the design of the International Tsunami Monitoring System. That led to the creation of a computer modelling system now in place in 185 British Columbia communities, which warns of potential tsunamis.

"I brought science into it so we know much more about the amplitude of the tsunami, how many waves there will be, what the height will be, when it will be safe to return to the shore," as well as data on ocean currents, which are responsible for much of the damage and loss of life as tsunami waves retreat.

Murty's expertise has taken him around the world. After Dec. 26, he was part of the Canadian delegation to India and Thailand to help develop a new warning system in the Indian Ocean. Most recently, he was involved in developing tsunami warning systems for the Caribbean and the Atlantic Ocean. Retired from the federal government, he now teaches at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. In December, when he accepts an award in India for his work, "life will have come full circle, in a sense, because that's where my interest was sparked."

(Photo Source: Bill Grimshaw for the Toronto Star)


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