Hi! Do you know, I could have written about any woman scientist in this world? Well, I chose a scientist from Kolkata and her name is Asima Chatterjee. Do you know why I chose her? Asima was the first Indian woman to receive a Doctorate of Science from an Indian university. She received this in 1944.
In 1975, she was conferred the prestigious Padma Bhushan and became the first female scientist to be elected as the General President of the Indian Science Congress Association. Let me tell you her story.
Asima Chatterjee was born in 1917. Her father was Indra Narayan and her mother, Kamala Devi. She belonged to a middle-class family. Her father was interested in botanical science and Asima followed her father’s interests.
She studied at Scottish Church college and got high marks in science. She married Dr. Baradananda Chatterjee, an expert in physics and chemistry. Soon, they had a daughter named Julie. Dr. Chatterjee supported her love for science.
Asima had a well rounded life where she did her chores, took care of kids and worked as well.
She joined the University College of Science at the University of Calcutta as a Reader in pure Chemistry. She focused on natural science which led to anti-conclusive and anti-malarial drugs.
But in 1967, tragedy struck. Within four months, her father and then her husband died. Due to this, she had a massive heart attack and was hospitalized immediately. She was in a critical condition for three months.
It was because of the affection of her students, colleagues, and staff officers that she regained her courage and started her scientific research again.
She was awarded the Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar Prize in Chemistry in 1961, the first female recipient of the award.
Her eloquent and powerful presidential address “Science and Technology in India: Present and Future” is considered one of the most visionary speeches on science in India.
Chatterjee wrote 400 papers which were published nationally and internationally. Her works have been published into many textbooks. She died in the year 2006, at the age of 89. Her life is an inspiration for all budding scientists.