There are an increasing number of women studying basic and higher sciences in India. Some of our women scientists, often forgotten heroes, have made great contributions to science and paved the way for others.
On International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let us remember some of these inspiring scientists.
1. Anandibai Joshee (1865 – 1887): Dr Anandibai Joshee, was one of the first Indian women doctors qualified to practice western medicine. She was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward of the local Albert Edward Hospital in the princely state of Kolhapur.
2. Janaki Ammal (1897-1984): Janaki Ammal pursued Botany and later scientific research in cytogenetics and phyto-geography. She worked briefly in the UK, but returned to India in 1951 to reorganise the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). She served as the Director-General of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI).
3. Kamala Sohonie (1912–1998): Dr. Sohonie was the first Indian woman to get a Ph.D in a scientific discipline. While at Cambridge, she found that every cell of a plant tissue contained the enzyme ‘cytochrome C’ which was involved in the oxidation of all plant cells.
4. Anna Mani (1918-2001): Anna Mani was an Indian physicist and meteorologist and retired as the Deputy Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). She published several research papers and made significant contributions in the field of meteorological instrumentation.
5. Asima Chatterjee (1917 – 2006): Asima Chatterjee was an Indian chemist noted for her work in the fields of organic chemistry and phyto-chemistry. She also authored a considerable volume of work on medicinal plants of the Indian subcontinent.
6. Rajeshwari Chatterjee (1922-2010): Rajeshwari Chatterjee was the first woman engineer from Karnataka. After obtaining a Ph.D degree, she returned to India and joined the Department of Electrical Communication Engineering at IISc as a faculty member where she along with her husband set up a microwave research laboratory where they did pioneering work on Microwave Engineering.
7. Darshan Ranganathan (1941 –2001): Darshan Ranganathan was an organic chemist from India who was known for her work in bio-organic chemistry, including ‘pioneering work in protein folding’ and ‘supramolecular assemblies, molecular design, chemical simulation of key biological processes, synthesis of functional hybrid peptides and synthesis of nanotubes’. She was the Deputy Director of IICT, Hyderabad.
8. Maharani Chakravorty (1937-2015): Maharani Chakravorty is a molecular biologist. She organized the first laboratory course on recombinant DNA techniques in Asia and the Far East in 1981. After her post-doctoral studies in the USA, she returned to the Bose Institute in Kolkata.
9. Charusita Chakravarty (1964-2016): Charusita Chakravarty has been a professor of Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi since 1999. Born in the USA, she relinquished her U.S. citizenship and worked in India. She was an Associate Member of the Centre for Computational Material Science, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.