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Friday, September 22, 2023

Nergis Mavalvala – Nobel Prize winning team member: Celebrating Pakistani Women

GVS News Desk |

Born in Lahore but raised in Karachi, Nergis Mavalvala is a Pakistani American astrophysicist known for her role in the first observation of gravitational waves. She attended Convent of Jesus and Mary, Karachi, where she got her O-Level and A-Level qualifications. Moved to the United States in 1986, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College, in 1990. She then went on to attain her PhD in physics from MIT in 1997.

Nergis is often viewed as a role model for aspiring female scientists of South Asian descent. She has been working on gravitational waves since 1991, which was publicly announced on February 11, 2016. The detection confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity, hence, she was able to solve the centuries-old mystery about gravitational waves.

The detection confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity.

This discovery led her team to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. In a statement by the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif praised Mavalvala, “the entire nation is proud of her valuable contribution.” Born to a Parsi family, Mavalvala was raised in the Zoroastrian faith. She stands out as an immigrant of Pakistan who describes herself as an “out, queer person of color.”

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Mavalvala and her partner have two children and reside in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States. Talking about her childhood, Mavalvala revealed that she used to repair bicycles and did hours long chemistry concoction in Karachi. Her first forays of research were in college when she got to know that there is a whole field of science to direct her career towards.

Mavalvala won the first Lahore Technology Award launched by Information Technology University on December 17, 2017. In 2017, the Carnegie Corporation of New York honored Mavalvala as one of its Great Immigrants awards recipients. The awards claim to go to “naturalized citizens who have made notable contributions to the progress of American society.”