Indian Women Leaders In Science And Technology

Last updated 23 May 2017 . 5 min read

Indian women leading in science and technology may be far and few but that scenario is changing. The launch of “Mangalyaan” into orbit around Mars brought into focus the Indian women scientists working for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO.)

Women are not only leading important space and defence missions, but are also at the forefront of cutting-edge research.

Here are a few of these indomitable Indian women:

Anuradha T.K., ISRO

ISRO’s senior-most woman scientist, Anuradha T.K. is the project director for specialized communications satellites at the ISRO Satellite Center. She works on geo-synchronous satellites, which are crucial for telecommunications and data links. She was part of the launches of “GSAT-12” and “GSAT-10.” Other women working at ISRO consider her a role model.

Indira Hinduja, Gynaecologist

A gynecologist, obstetrician and infertility specialist, Indira Hinduja delivered India’s first test tube baby in 1986. She pioneered the gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT) technique, leading to the birth of India’s first GIFT baby in 1988. She has published numerous research papers in national and international medical journals.

Neena Gupta, Indian Statistical Institute

A mathematician, Neena Gupta was awarded by the Indian National Science Academy for proposing a solution to the mathematical problem known as the Zariski Cancellation Conjecture. The academy recognized her work “one of the best works in algebraic geometry in recent years done anywhere.” She continues to do research in commutative algebra and affine algebraic geometry. She also received the Ramanujan Prize in 2014.

Prerna Sharma, Indian Institute of Science

A physicist, Prerna Sharma was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30 India” list in 2015. Her area of study comprises soft condensed matter like colloids, emulsions and surfactants. She was part of the team at Brandies University in the United States that broke new ground in two-dimensional physics and published a paper in the prestigious international journal, Nature. She is also known as “the scientist of small things.”

Ritu Karidhal, ISRO

Deputy operations director for India's Mars orbiter mission, “Mangalyaan,” Ritu Karidhal is an aerospace engineer. She worked on the detailing and execution of “Mangalyaan’s” onward autonomy system. She is currently working on the “Chandrayaan 2” mission, India’s second lunar exploration mission. She received the ISRO Young Scientist Award in 2007.

Sunetra Gupta, University of Oxford

Straddling the dual roles of a professor of Theoretical Epidemiology and a novelist, Sunetra Gupta has done extensive work on infectious disease agents that are responsible for malaria, HIV, influenza and bacterial meningitis using mathematical models. That she has been awarded in both fields—a scientific medal from the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin award for her research work, as well as the Sahitya Akademi Award for her novel Memories of Rain—speaks volumes of her prowess as a scientist and literary writer.

Tessy Thomas, Defence Research and Development Organisation

The first woman scientist to lead a missile project, Tessy Thomas is known as “India’s Missile Woman” or “Agni Putri.” She headed the mission for “Agni V,” the long-range, nuclear-capable missile, which was tested successfully in 2012. She also led the mission for “Agni IV,” which was successfully tested in 2011.

Yamuna Krishnan, University of Chicago

Yamuna Krishnan works in the field of bionanotechnology, studying DNA functions beyond its traditional role as nature’s genetic material. Her current research interests are in areas related to the structure and dynamics of nucleic acids, nucleic acid nanotechnology, cellular and subcellular technologies. For her work, Krishnan was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar prize in 2013.

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