We always talk about the priceless contribution of male scientists like C V Raman, Dr A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, or Satyendra Nath Bose in science. However, many of us are unaware of the invaluable contributions of women in the field of Science and technology. There was a time when women were confined to the four walls of their houses, these women indeed broke the stereotype and made a name for themselves. So, here we have compiled Indian women scientists who have given immense contributions in Science.
Asima Chatterjee is indeed an inspiration for many. She had tremendous contributions to organic chemistry and phytomedicine. Known for her development of cancer medicine, anti-malarial drugs, and anti-epileptic, she was also the woman who became first to be named a Doctor of Science by an Indian university.
2. Dr Indira Hinduja
An honorary gynaecologist, obstetrician and infertility specialist, Dr Indira Hinduja had introduced GIFT (Gamate Intra fallopian Transfer) resulting in the birth of India’s first GIFT baby on January 4, 1988. Before this, she delivered India’s first test-tube baby on August 6, 1986. However, her contributions to the field of medicine do not end here. She also had the credit for improving an oocyte donation technique for menopausal and premature ovarian failure patients, giving India’s first baby out of this technique on January 24, 1991.
3. Shubha Tole
A recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize, Shubha Tole is unquestionably a renowned name in the field of neuroscience. She had the honour to discover a master gene which controls the development of the brain’s cortex hippocampus and amygdala. Currently, she is working at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
4. Darshan Ranganathan
A self-made pioneer in bio-organic chemistry, Darshan Ranganathan was recognised for her hard work. She made her name in molecular design, supramolecular assemblies, and chemical simulation of key biological processes, synthesis of nanotubes and synthesis of functional hybrid peptides.
5. Paramjit Khurana
63 years old scientist, Paramjit Khurana, is known for inventing ‘All-Weather Seeds’ which indeed will support farmers who depend on the weather for their crops. Paramjit Khurana, who is a researcher at the Department Of Plant Molecular Biology in Delhi University, created hybrid strains of mulberry, wheat and rice that are not only drought resistant, but also can resistant heat and have a higher UV radiation capacity.
6. Dr Aditi Pant
A successful oceanographer, Dr Aditi was the first Indian woman to visit Antarctica in 1983. She contributed in the third and fifth Indian expeditions to Antarctica to research about oceanography and geology. Moreover, Dr Aditi also received the Antarctica award for her contributions to the project.
7. Tessy Thomas
Also known as the ‘Missile lady’, Tessy Thomas is the first Indian woman who held the post of Project Director for the Agni-IV and Agni-V missile in Defence Research and Development Organisation. Besides, she is the recipient of the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for her extraordinary contributions in the field of missile technology in India.
8. Usha Barwale Zehr
One of the most skilled researchers in Botany, Usha Barwale Zehr, yielded the country’s first genetically modified food, the Bt brinjal. Her work gained appreciation in 2000 for her efforts in providing genetically modified food.
9. Charusita Chakravarty
Born in the USA, Charusita Chakravarty was recognised for her work on the basis of molecules and effects of change in molecular base on DNA proteins. A recipient of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, and B.M. Birla Science Award, she also worked on Molecular Dynamics, Classical and Quantum Monte Carlo, and Structure and Dynamics of Liquids.
10. Anandibai Joshee
Recognised as the first female doctor of India, Anandibai Joshee went abroad to study medicine in Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania in 1886 and later became the physician-in-charge of the female ward at Albert Edward Hospital in Kolhapur.
11. Janaki Ammal
Janaki Ammal became the first Indian scientist to receive the Padma Shri Award in 1977 for her invaluable scientific researches in cytogenetics and phytogeography. Scientists highly praise her for her cytogenetical studies on eggplant (brinjal), sugarcane, Terminalia, Cymbopogon, Dioscorea, and dhatura. Besides, World science institutions and universities revered her for her cytology reference book, Chromosome of Cultivated Plants, which she co-authored with eminent cytologist, C.D.Darlington.
12. Sunetra Gupta
A woman of many talents, Sunetra Gupta is a novelist and a professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at the University of Oxford. Her field of interest is studying infectious diseases, like the flu and malaria, using mathematical models. Furthermore, Sunetra, who earned her doctorate degree from the University of London, has been awarded the prestigious scientific medal by the zoological society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific research.
13. Dr Suman Sahai
Dr Suman Sahai is another great scientist who is the originator of the Gene Campaign in India which works for better livelihoods in rural communities. A recipient of the Padma Shri, the Borlaug and the outstanding woman achiever awards, she is highly praised because of her single-minded determination to achieve her goals. Her unyielding determination made the Government take notice of the effects of genetically-modified crops and address the problems of Indian farmers.
14. Kamala Sohonie
Kamala Sohonie became the first Indian woman to get a PhD degree in the scientific discipline. However, when she applied to the IISc for a research fellowship, she was rejected merely because she was a woman. Nevertheless, due to her excellent performance, prof. C. V. Raman, who was the then IISc director, gave her permission to pursue further research. Her notable discovery is that every cell of a plant tissue contained the enzyme ‘cytochrome C’. which also helped in the oxidation of all plant cells.
15. Rajeshwari Chatterjee
Another name is Rajeshwari Chatterjee who obtained her Master’s degree from the Department of Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. After receiving a doctorate, she returned to India. She then joined the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc as a faculty member. There along with her husband, Rajeshwari set up a microwave research laboratory where they did pioneering work on microwave engineering.
16. Kalpana Chawla
Kalpana Chawla is the first astronaut from Indian origin to go to space. India recognizes the late astronaut as a national hero. In 1984 she obtained a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington.
Furthermore, she gained her PhD in aerospace engineering in 1988 from the University of Colorado Boulder. However, on February 1, 2003, Kalpana Chawla died along with other six crew members in the space shuttle Columbia disaster when the space shuttle disintegrated while returning into the Earth’s atmosphere.
17. Yamuna Krishnan
Recipient of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize in 2013, Yamuna Krishnan is indeed a well known for her contributions in the field of bionanotechnology. She made experimental machines out of DNA. She synthesises nuclear bases into filaments of DNA. Her experiments help the world to know that when the filamentous DNA are sent into cells, it helps to provide more information on the condition inside like acidity and other factors. The mechanism also has the potential to mimic viruses and make drugs more effective by efficiently reaching the drugs to the cells.
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