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Who Is Nergis Mavalvala – The First Woman To Be Named Dean Of MIT?

Posted: August 20, 2020

Nergis Mavalvala is the first woman to be named the Dean of Sciences at MIT. A Pakistani-American and an openly gay woman, she is an inspiration to all.

As a child, I had always wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. But, once I got glasses, my dreams shattered, and I shifted focus towards writing and pushed forward. The confidence to write and be me has been challenging.

Whenever I am disheartened at hitting a roadblock when things don’t plan out the way I’d want, I try and remember inspiring stories of women. The ones who were true to themselves and rose to the top in their chosen fields are the ones who help you navigate your journey. And one such woman is Nergis Mavalvala.

Who is Nergis Mavalvala?

A Pakistani-American, Nergis Mavalvala is an astrophysicist and the first woman to be named as the Dean of Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Her inclination and dedication towards science was got her to where she is today. With her immense perseverance and fearless attitude, Nergis Mavalvala is at the heights of her career. 

Born in a Parsi family in Karachi, Pakistan, Nergis was brought up without the strict gender roles. Her family was extremely supportive and encouraged her to excel in academics making them her strength to fulfil her dreams. And it is due to this that she achieved great success while also encouraging people to follow their dreams. 

After finishing her high school, Nergis Mavalvala moved to the US to get a graduate degree in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College. Right before she graduated, she co-authored a paper with her physics professor Robert Berg and even helped him set up his lab.

Once she completed graduation, she was a postdoctoral researcher and research scientist at California Institute of Technology. Post this, she did her doctoral work at MIT, which she later joined in as faculty in 2002. Before she was named the Dean, Nergis Mavalvala was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2017.

She is a constant source of inspiration

As as an openly gay Pakistani-American, she holds her identity as a woman of colour close to her heart. Despite social stigmas around the LGBTQIA+ community in South Asia, Mavalvala strove to be her own person. She describes herself as an ‘out, queer person of colour,’ and tries to break the gender roles and stigma around it.

However, her social orientation has never come in way of her work or in doing what she wants to. She has worked hard to represent women and South Asian queer people on several occasions and also with her work.

A constant source of inspiration, her journey makes her a person to look upto. Nergis Mavalvala is a role model for women all over with her hard work and determination.

Picture credits: Twitter

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