Genius Indian Women Scientists in STEM

Genius Indian Women Scientists in STEM

Genius Indian Women Scientists in STEM

Written by:- Mansi Gupta

Mansi Gupta
Mansi Gupta
Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, has announced 11 Chairs in Institutes across India. It is established to honour the Indian women's contribution to Science and Innovation and to inspire young girls to achieve excellence in STEM subjects. The 2030 Agenda for SDGs includes gender equality. It is an effort made to address the issue of low representation of women in Science and Technology (S&T) fields. It is the first step in the direction of providing equal opportunities to become successful in STEM professionals. The chairs established are on the names of eminent Indian women Scientists who have crowning accomplishments in the field of Science & Technology. And only women researchers can take up these chairs, and receive research funding up to Rs 1 crore.

The name of the 11 eminent women scientists is - Cytogeneticist Archana Sharma, Botanist Janaki Ammal, Dr.Kadambini Ganguly, Organic scientist Darshan Ranganathan, Anthropologist Dr. Iravati Karve, Chemist Asima Chatterjee, Meteorologist Dr. Anna Mani, Engineer Dr. Rajeshwari Chatterjee, Mathematician Dr.Raman Parimala, physicist Dr. Bibha Chowdhuri and Biomedical researcher Dr. Kamal Ranadive. Let's take a look at their contributions and achievements.

Cytogeneticist Dr. Archana Sharma (1932-2008)

Dr. Archana was born on February 16, 1932, in Pune, Maharashtra in the family of Professor NP Mookherjee, a Professor of Chemistry at Bikaner, Rajasthan. She was a botanist and specialized researcher in plant genetics. She also researched on the induction of cell division in adult nuclei. She was the founder of the open access international journal of cytology and allied topics, named The Nucleus and remained its editor till 2007. During her career, she supervised about 70 Ph.D. students. One of the crucial contributions that came from Archana's laboratory was on the chromosomes and chromosome-related classification of flowering plants.

She has been honoured with several awards for her recognizing Work in the field of science and education. She was conferred with Padma Bhushan-one of the highest civilian award by the President of India, for her contributions to the society. She was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize of the CSIR in 1976 in the field of Biological Sciences.

Botanist Janaki Ammal (1897-1984)

Edavaleth Ekkath Janaki Ammal was born in Tellichery, Kerala on November 4, 1897.She was a renowned botanist and plant cytologist who made substantive contributions to the fields of genetics, evolution, ethnobotany, and phytogeography. Her pioneering contribution in enhancing our understanding of how plants cross-breed in the wild. She studied all kinds of plants — garden plants, crop plants, plantation crops, medicinal plants, wild plants, and so on. She was the founder member and the first woman fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru established byC.V. Raman in 1935. JointlywithC.D.Darlington, she wrote the Chromosome Atlas of cultivated plants(1945), a publication that became well known among the botanists and agricultural scientists of all over the world.

In 1957, She was honoured with Padma Shri by the government of India. She was conferred an honorary LL.D by the University of Michigan in 1956 in recognition of her Work in botany and cytogenetics. In Jammu, a herbarium at Regional Research Laboratory has been named after her. The nursery is the house for over 25,000 species, taken from different parts of India including species collected even before 1935.

Biochemist Darshan Ranganathan (1941-2001)

Darshan Ranganathan, a biochemist, was born on June 4, 1941, in Karol Bagh, New Delhi. Her contributions to the field of chemistry were monumental. She was proficient in designing proteins and other nanostructures in chemistry. She constructed four types of bi-carboxamide units as supramolecular synthons. Her research reached new altitudes, in terms of simplicity, elegance, and novelty in the crafting of new molecules models with potential applications in biological, chemical and material sciences. Some of Darshan's most notable Work was on supramolecular chemistry.

She received many awards including Fellowship of the Indian Academy of Sciences (1991) and INSA(1996), AV Rama Rao Foundation Award (JNCASR), TWAS (Third world Academy of Sciences) Award in Chemistry (1999) and Sukh Dev Endowment Lecture (National Chemical Laboratory). In 1996, she was the recipient of the Science Research Scholarship of the Royal Commission and Professor K Venkataraman Lectureship.

Chemist Asima Chatterjee (1917-2006)

Asima Chatterjee was born on September 23, 1917, in Calcutta. She was an organic chemist, excellent educationist and studied& worked extensively on medicinal plants and alkaloids, which are used in chemotherapy to prevent cells from multiplying. Her developments in medicinal drugs for various diseases like malaria, epilepsy, and cancer(chemotherapy treatment). She was a highly dedicated teacher, and the researcher supervised about 59 Ph.D. and 3 DSc students and published 328 research papers and several review articles in her lifetime. She also contributed significantly to the stereochemistry and elucidation of the structure of ajmalicine and sarpagine.

She received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Award and was elected Fellow of both, the Indian National Science Academy(INSA) and the Indian Academy of Sciences. She served as General President of the Indian Science Congress and was nominated member of the Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). She played a significant role in the formulation of science educational policies in the country.

Physician Kadambini Ganguly (1861-1923)

Kadambini Ganguly, India's first native female graduate, physician and medical practitioner of western medicine was born on July 18, 1861, in Bhagalpur, Bihar. She was the first woman to get admission at the Calcutta Medical College in 1884. She was the only female selected in her batch and the first Indian woman to achieve triple diploma courses in medical sciences at the Scottish College at Edinburgh.

She specialized in gynecology and pediatrics as well. Having an incredible will power, she continuously strived to make education more accessible to women and fulfill her social and political responsibilities. She aided in the freedom struggle of India, organized Satyagraha meetings in 1906 after the Bengal partition, and worked relentlessly to improve the conditions of females in India. Her confidence, virtues, and determination, still exist as an inspiration for all the women in the field of STEM.

Anthropologist Iravati Karve (1905-1970)

Iravati Karve, named after the famous Burmese river 'Irrawaddy' was an eminent Indian sociologist, educationist, anthropologist, and a prolific writer, born in Burma, Myanmar on December 5, 1905. She quickly traversed through the different topography of literature and academics. While Karve becomes globally renowned for her writings in sociology and anthropology, she became famous in Maharashtra for her literary works. Her resilient dedication to study on the kinship terms, relationships and family structures in India simplified and revolutionized the study of the subject. She used language patterns and geographical divisions to find out more about the variations in kinship structures across the expanse of the country.

She has penned several books in both languages English and Marathi. Some of her famous books were Paripurti, Amachi Samskruti, Bhovara, Gangajaland Samskruti. Her book 'Yuganta', written in Marathi and later translated into English by her, won her the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1968. She was elected President of the Anthropology Department of the Indian Science Congress in 1957.

Meteorologist Anna Mani (1918-2001)

Anna Mani, a pioneering woman scientist physicist, and meteorologist was Born on August 23, 1918, in a Syrian Christian family in Travancore, Kerala. She performed path-breaking research changed in the way India gauges weather. She was specialized in climate and meteorology, where she made significant contributions in the field of meteorological instrumentation and retired as the Deputy Director-General of the IMD ( Indian Meteorological Department) and further served as a visiting professor at the Raman Research Institute. She published numerous papers on solar radiation, ozone and wind energy as the alternative sources of energy.

She was a member of numerous scientific organizations – INSA, WMO (World Meteorological Organisation), AMS(American Meteorological Society), the International Solar Energy Society and many others. In the year 1987, she received the INSA (Indian National Science Academy) K. R. Ramanathan Medal for her outstanding achievements and contribution.

Engineer Rajeshwari Chatterjee (1922-2010)

Rajeshwari Chatterjee was born in the year 1922 in Karnataka. She was the woman engineer to hail from Karnataka. She has made a significant contribution to the field of microwave and antennae engineering. In a career spanning about 30 years, she wrote several textbooks, mentored many students and finally retired as the chairperson of ECE in 1981. Her pioneered research findings are still used in RADAR technology, and defense applications by DRDO and her legacy spread all around the world through her numerous students. She has also contributed to the field of antennas for particular purposes used in spacecraft and aircraft.

For her contribution and groundbreaking works in the field of Engineering, she was honored with various awards like Ramlal Wadhwa Award for the best research and teaching work from the Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers; J.C. Bose Memorial prize for the best research paper from the Institution of Engineers; Mountbatten prize for the best writing from the Institute of Electrical and Radio Engineering (UK) and many others.

Mathematician Raman Parimala (1948)

Raman Parimala, a renowned Indian mathematician, born and raised in Tamil Nadu on November 21, 1948. She primarily works in algebra, using her knowledge in various other fields like number theory, algebraic geometry, and topology. She is also credited for publishing the first example of a nontrivial quadratic space over an affine plane at a young age. She was an invited plenary speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Zurich in 1994 and gave a talk about the arithmetic of two-dimensional fields.

She is a recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Mathematical Sciences (1987), Docteur Honoris Causa from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland (1999), Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Lecture (2004) and Srinivasa Ramanujan Medal of INSA (2006) and The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) prize for Mathematical Sciences (2006). She is a Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore and the National Academy of Sciences (India), Allahabad.

Physicist Bibha Chowdhuri (1993-1991)

Bibha Chowdhuri (born in 1913) was an Indian physicist. She worked on particle physics and cosmic rays. She is well-known for her Work in particle physics and cosmic rays. She was involved in the Kolar Gold Field experiments to detect neutrinos. She also discovered subatomic particle, pi-meson. She had worked with some of the leading lights of the physics fraternity in India and abroad, like physicist Debendra Mohan Bose and Nobel Prize winner Patrick Blackett. 

At the Bose Institute, between 1938 and 1942, she worked on the discovery of mesons using photographic plates and published three consecutive papers in Nature, along with DM Bose. The International Astronomical Union has named a yellow-white dwarf star HD 86081 in the honor of scientist Dr.Bibha Choudhury, for her pioneering Work in physics. In Bengali, Bhabha refers to "a bright beam of light".

Pathologist Kamal Ranadive (1917-2001)

Kamal Ranadive was a women pathologist, biomedical researcher born in Pune, Maharashtra on November 8, 1917. She was among the first to recognize the connection between cancer susceptibility and the interaction between hormones and tumor viruses. Her significant Work includes animal models for understanding the pathophysiology of cancer and excellent model work on leukemia, breast cancer and cancer of the esophagus.In addition to this, she had done research work on leprosy bacillus, which eventually led to the preparation of the leprosy vaccine for the dreaded disease. She had published over more than 200 research papers on leprosy and cancer.

She was a founder member of the Indian Women Scientists' Association (IWSA) to spread science to the masses. In the 1960s, she entrenched India's first tissue culture research laboratory at the Indian Cancer Research Centre in Mumbai. She was conferred with the Padma Bhushan for her Work on leprosy prevention in 1982. She was awarded a Silver Jubilee Gold Medal and the first Silver Jubilee Research Award 1964, by Medical Council of India; G. J. Watumull Foundation Prize for 1964 in micro-biology. She was an Emeritus Medical Scientist of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). 

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