BENGALURU: Two scientists from Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and one from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) have received awards from the Ministry of Earth Sciences for their works in their respective fields.
Professor K S Valdiya from JNCASR, who was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2015, was given the Lifetime Excellence award for his path-breaking works in the field of isotope geoscience, while Professor Shekar Muddu of the Civil engineering department at IISc was given the national award for geoscience and technology along with Professor Sunil Bajpai, director of Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow.
Professor Kusala Rajendran, a veteran scientist at IISc, was given the first ever national award for women scientists. The award was instituted this year. Rajendran, who is currently with the Centre for Earth sciences at IISc, told The New Indian Express, “Women are not recognised much despite putting in a lot of efforts to keep things going. I dedicate this award to all women who work hard trying to balance their homes, social and work lives.”
The professor, who is currently working on understanding earthquakes along the subduction zone in the Himalayas, often gets to work on research projects alongside her husband who is also a researcher with JNCASR. “I have been very lucky as my husband is also in the same profession. But I know many women who are unable to go to the field as they would like to, like men go. The conditions in India, as well as many other countries, do not make it convenient for women to travel by themselves. In the Indian social setting, you don’t see women who travel with colleagues for long intervals. There are difficulties,” she explained.
Rajendran went on to say that she graduated at a time when there were no women in the geophysics field from her class. However, she did not let this deter her from pursuing her research aims. “I am quite comfortable working and travelling with male colleagues in a sector which is dominated by men. I often work on joint projects with my husband as well. So I have never had any problems,” she said.