Dr Kalaiselvi N: The 1st Woman to head CSIR- India’s Largest Research Organization!

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

First Woman Head Of CSIR: Dr. Kalaiselvi Nallathamby has been appointed as the first woman director of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) — India’s largest research organization and the consortium of 38 state-run research institutes across the country. Dr. N Kalaiselvi is a senior electrochemical scientist who is an expert on lithium-ion batteries and was appointed as the head of the CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute. Dr. Kalaiselvi succeeds Shekhar Mande, who was appointed as the superannuated in April, and she takes over from Rajesh Gokhalewho, the Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology, who was given the additional responsibilities of CSIR at the time of Mande’s retirement.

Who is Dr N Kalaiselvi

Here is the essential information on Dr. Kalaiselvi Nallathamby-
  • Hailing from Ambasamudhram, a small city in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district – Kalaiselvi went to a Tamil-medium school. Although it may seem like a limitation to many, Kalaiselvi says that her schooling in Tamil helped her grasp the science concepts and build her foundation on it when she joined college.
  • Dr. M Kalaisevi was the youngest among three siblings. According to the 55-year-old Kalaiselvi, the non-discriminative behavior of her parents between her and her brothers helped her create a strong base for her education. She also gives credit to the excellent support system after she got married in her professional and career building.
  • After completing her Ph.D. in Chemistry, Kalaiselvi worked as a professor for three years before joiningCECRIin 1997. She said, I loved teaching. But, I was also aching for research’. CECRI allowed her to pursue both her passions at one chance.
  • Kalaiselvi was also quoted in a report in the Times of India. Dr. N Kalaiselvi has taught in the CECRI’s B.Tech course in electrochemical and chemical engineering, which was introduced in 1988.
  • She started her journey in the CSIR, working as an entry-level scientist. Without her continuous and consistent contribution, she has risen to the Director General of CSIR.
  • Her research while working in CECRI was based on the lithium batteries division. At this time of life, when everyone is dependent on mobile phones and remote-controlled appliances, the relevance of lithium-ion batteries is significant. However, India is dependent on other countries for the import of batteries large part of the batteries. At CECRI, Kalaiselvi was working as a team on the creation of indigenous battery technology to meet demands. Her work focused on developing lithium-sulfur/sodium-ion batteries and super-capacitors considered commercially viable.
  • Besides working on the creation of batteries, Dr. Kalaiselvi has also been working on super-capacitors, electrolytes for energy storage waste-to-wealth electrodes, and electro-catalytic applications. She was instrumental in the advancement of the National Mission for Electric Mobility. Dr. Kalaiselvi has authored more than 125 research papers and has six patents to her credit in her research career spanning over a quarter century.

Women Who Have Shattered the Glass Ceiling in the Field Of Central Science & Research Institutes

Here is the list of other women who have shattered the glass ceiling in the field of central science and research institutes-

  • Dr. Priya Abraham (Director of the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune): She was the one who confirmed the first sample of Covid-19 in India and also isolated the SARS-Cov-2 virus contributing a big part to the medical emergencies in India.
  • Dr. Tessy Thomas (Missile Woman of India): She is the Director-General of Aeronautical Systems. She worked as a former Project Director for Agni-IV missile in the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). She is the first woman scientist in India to head a missile project.
  • Manju Sharma (the pioneer of biotechnology research in India): In 1996, she was the first woman to be Secretary in the Department of Biotechnology. Besides her work of stellar in the field of biotechnology, Dr. Manju also played a significant role in the establishment of several institutions, including the National Institute of Plant Genome Research, the National Institute of Immunology, the Plant Molecular Biology Unit at the University of Delhi, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and the Biomass Research Centres at Lucknow and Madurai.
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