Page 29 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
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        drawback. But I had the best access that was possible in India then, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). This period is the most impor- tant in a scientist’s life where the person tries to develop her/his own niche area in research, set up her/his independent research program. I did not receive proper mentorship in this time, but luck- ily that did not set me back in any way.
For the first 15 years of my research life a major part was spent in Univer- sity environment. That was the most challenging time in my research life. The University environment in India is not very conducive, unfortunately, to research at the cutting edge. Luckily for me, the head of the department fa- cilitated my journey in these difficult times with moral and administrative support. Hence, such mentors are very important in these early times. Incidentally, it would have helped me enormously if the University would have made efforts to provide me with accommodation on campus, right in the beginning itself.
You have had a long collaboration with the scientific community in Europe. Please shed some light about your experience with CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire or European Council for Nuclear Research)?
CERN is an international laboratory and it has a theory division which hous- es theorists. They have a strong visitors’ program. I was invited there multiple times and those visits helped me develop contacts at the international level with experimentalists as well as theorists and I developed a rather strong connection with CERN. These visits, invitations as a visiting scientist/professor in Eu- rope’s different laboratories like DESY (Germany) as well as universities like the University of Utrecht, University of Amsterdam, University of Hawaii, Uni- versity of Madison at Wisconsin, and the joint Indo-French collaborative proj- ects granted by the Indo-French Centre for Promotion of Advanced Scientific Research (IFCPAR) were useful in de- veloping my collaborations with Euro- pean and American colleagues. The day
Snapshots from the early years of Dr Godbole’s life
  the discovery of the Higgs boson was announced in a seminar at CERN and as somebody, whose second ever paper had ‘Higgs’ in the title, to be there on the announcement of the discovery some 35-40 years later, was surely a heady experience.
Your thoughts on being recognised for your contributions.
Of course, it feels great to receive recog- nition. One does not do the work with awards/recognition as an aim, but still there is something positive about it. If these recognitions come from bodies that operate outside the environment of the subject area of one’s expertise, like the Padma Shri or the French Award, they are doubly sweet because they also bring to the attention of people at large, an esoteric subject like theoretical par- ticle physics. I also feel happy for women in science but I think of myself only as a scientist and NOT as a woman scientist. Though, I do believe that the perception of the society of women in science can be affected when more women are seen to receive recognition for achievements in the field of science. These things bring home to people that not only women can do science but also, they can achieve excellence. For people outside the field,
such recognition can be the only mea- sure of one’s achievements.
You have been known as a crusader for women in STEM (Science, Technology, En- gineering, Mathematics). How does the lack of diversity or the presence of lesser number of women in these disciplines affect sci- ence? Do you think we could achieve better with greater inclusivity?
I think the efforts to ensure that the par- ticipation of women in science is more numerous and more effective, should not be seen only as an act of helping women, but also as a value addition to science itself. Let me clarify this. It is not to dep- recate, in any way, the level of achieve- ments of science of past centuries, where its practice has been dominated by men. More efficient participation by women in science adds new dimensions to the pathways of exploration. In fact, the kind of issues in science that one ad- dresses can be affected by one’s gender, social milieu, etc. A simple example is that of sea sickness felt by sailors, which was not appreciated fully as a problem till doctors themselves started joining the sea voyages. Another example can be that of choice of subjects of investiga- tion in medical sciences. Particularly, in the days of using Artificial Intelligence
        Images Courtesy: Dr Rohini Godbole

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