Page 21 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
P. 21

        Tessy Thomas, 57
Director General, Aeronautical Systems, DRDO
Born in April 1963, in
Alappuzha, Kerala,
Tessy Thomas is
known as the Missile
Woman of India, as
she is the first wom-
an scientist ever to
lead a missile project
in the country. She
is also sometimes
called Agni Putri,
due to her association with the Agni missile project right from its developmental flights. She has designed the guidance scheme for long range missile systems which is used
in all Agni missiles. She was the Associate Project Director of the 3,000 km range Agni- III missile project; next, she was the Project Director for mission Agni IV, which was tested successfully in 2011. She was also the Project Director for 5,000-km range Agni V, the long-range, nuclear-capable missile that was successfully tested in 2012.
Thomas is a completely homegrown sci- entist who also chose to use her knowledge and expertise for the scientific advancement of the country. She was schooled in her hometown and holds a BTech in Electrical Engineering from Calicut University and a Master’s in Guided Missiles from Institute
of Armament Technology (now Defence Institute of Advanced Technology), Pune. She completed her PhD in Missile Guidance from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, and an MBA in Operations Man- agement from IGNOU, New Delhi. She is the recipient of several awards and honours.
Previously, she was the Director of the Advanced Systems Laboratory, Hyderabad.
Renu Swarup
Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of S&T, Government of India
Ever since the
outbreak of the CO-
VID-19 pandemic,
the Department
of Biotechnology
(DBT) has been at
the centre of all
efforts being made
by scientists and
innovators of the
country to help fight
the crisis. And as its head, Renu Swarup, has been seamlessly directing various institutes and individuals who are working in tandem with the DBT to find viable solutions for the coronavirus calamity.
Swarup, who holds a PhD in Genetics and Plant Breeding, and did her post-doctor- al work with the Commonwealth Scholarship in the lab of Professor Roy Davies at the John Innes Centre, Norwich, UK, joined the DBT as Science Manager in 1989. She was ap- pointed Secretary to the Government of India in April 2018. She is also the Chairperson of Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Company incorporated by the Government of India to promote research and innovation in biotech enterprise, with special focus on Start-Ups and SMEs. She has also been instrumental in the implementation of the DBT scheme BioCare — Biotechnology Career Advance- ment for Women Scientists.
A new microbe that can survive extreme environments was named after her last year as Natrialba Swarupiae, to acknowledge her initiative in the establishment of India's larg- est microbial repository, the National Centre for Microbial Resource.
Lt Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, 60
Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Medical) Lt Gen (Dr) Madhuri Kanitkar is the
third woman in the
Indian armed forces
to be promoted
to the three-star
rank — in 2019
—after Lt Gen
Punita Arora and
Air Marshal Padma
Bandopadhyay.
This is commendable also because women make up only 0.56% of the Army personnel. Lt Gen (Dr) Madhuri Kanitkar and her husband, Lt Gen (retd) Rajiv Kanitkar, have become the first couple of the Indian Army to achieve the three-star rank.
Born in Dharwad, Maharashtra, in 1960, Lt Gen (Dr) Madhuri Kanitkar joined the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune, in 1978. She won several laurels during the course of her MBBS degree. She was com- missioned in the Army Medical Corps in 1982. She did her post-graduation in paediatrics in 1990 and underwent training in Paediatric Nephrology at AIIMS, New Delhi. She was instrumental in setting up the Paediatric Ne- phrology service in the Army Medical Corps. In January 2017, she assumed the office of the Dean and Deputy Commandant of AFMC, Pune. She also served as Major General Medi- cal at the Northern Command at Udhampur. A highly decorated officer, among other awards, she has been honoured with the VSM (Vishisht Seva Medal) in 2014 and AVSM (Ati Vishisht Seva Medal) in 2018.
Kanitkar also serves on the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC).
Wonder Women
of Science in India
Though the number of women in science remains miniscule compared to men globally, they are increasingly breaching traditional barriers by excelling as scientists at top and critical positions. Science India profiles some of the leading contemporary lights in the field
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