The scientific fraternity is bubbling with excitement as they verified Albert Einstein’s prediction from his theory of relativity after 100 years of its proposition. India too has contributed in the ground breaking experiment. No surprise there is a woman at the heart of the team, a Principal Investigator of the Laser Interferometric Gravitationalwave Observatory (LIGO). Meet Archana Pai. She has been working on research projects for the last 19 years and her major interest areas are neutron stars and black holes.

“We did have an idea that detecting gravitational wave needed sensitivity and that would happen in the advanced LIGO. The first detection wasn’t however expected this soon,” said Archana Pai, the only woman from the Indian consortium to realise Einstein’s theory of relativity to Hindustan Times.

Only female Principal Investigator of LIGO
Archana Pai for Gravitational Waves

Pai has been working on research projects for the last 19 years and her major interest areas are neutron stars and black holes. She headed a team of three research students pursuing PhD and one post-doctoral fellow in this operation.

She graduated from the Ruparel College of Mumbai and went on to do her Masters from IIT Mumbai. She topped in Physics during her Bachelors. She even got herself a Doctorate from Pune’s Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and then joined Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram (IISER TVM)

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She married a scientist who also works at the same institute. With all the responsibilities of work and home, Pai managed to give almost half of her day to the Gravitational Waves project. No doubt, her perseverance and dedication paid off making her the only female in the team of scientists and researchers involved in the discovery from the nine states of India.

She did express that managing everything did become a big challenge. “I will not say that it has been easy juggling teaching, research and home. There have been many days in the last year when I have dedicated 10-12 hours daily to research apart from my other responsibilities. But I am happy everything turned out well,” according to TOI.

In the interview, she also insisted all the girls to keep working towards their goals and not lose hope as ‘research in science requires a lot of hard work’. Women in Science are really making a mark in these times. After the last successful launch of the cheapest space probe on Mars by India, MOM in 2014, this is the second time an Indian female scientist has found recognition in a discovery that is of global importance.

Picture Credit- Astronomy