Dr. Chandrima Shaha has become the first female President - Elect of the Indian National Science Academy (2020-2022). This breaks the glass ceiling when it comes to women at the forefront of STEM- a combination of fields where they are under-represented.
Dr. Shaha’s primary interest in research focuses on death processes in rapidly proliferating cells. She is the Former Director of the National Institute of Immunology (NII), New Delhi, where she is currently the Professor of Eminence. Afterpost-doctoral studies in the US, she joined NII in 1984. She is an elected fellow of the World Academy of Sciences. Previously, she has served as the Vice-President of International Affairs of the Indian National Science Academy. Shaha was also a cricketer and a cricket commentator for All India Radio. BE’s Ellora De spoke to her.
Q. Being a consistent pathbreaker, what is your message to Indian women?
A. Follow your passion with sincerity and dedication and never lose the urge to compete. Maybe it is sometimes difficult to follow one’s passion. However, try to make the most of the existing niche by working with interest, honesty and seriousness.
Q. How did you build the bridge between cricket and biology?
A. Playing cricket was an outdoor activity during my school days. My selection to the Bengal team was due to my cricketing abilities during my undergraduate years Taking sports as a career was not one of my choices and I never wanted to link that to the core of my career goals. Therefore, even though I was part of the Bengal team, I quit when time came for continuing higher studies. My passion since my childhood was to become a scientist and that too a biologist and that is what I became. However, I have always followed cricket with deep interest.
Q. What is needed in the field of science research in India?
A. We have enough talent. What we need is more funding for the longer term making it easier for scientists to complete their goals without having to run around for funding every three years. A system of stringent evaluation with increased funding for a longer term is necessary. Also, we need to join large scale global efforts in science. Opportunities for Indian scientists to interact in the international arena have to increase. For future, a robust effort to create interest in science as a career for the younger citizens is a huge necessity.
Q. What is your message to the Indians who ignore passion for their career?
A. Passion is essential for a successful career in any field and therefore, wherever you are you should put all your heart into your efforts.