Birth Date: November, 12, 1952
Place of Birth: Pune, India
Nationality: Indian
Occupation/Field of Study Theoretical particle physicist from India, who participated in the search for the Higgs-boson particle and the author of “Godbole-Pancheri model”.

 

KEYWORDS: Rohini Godbole, India, theoretical sciences, theoretical physics, Centre for High Energy Physics, Indian Institute of Science, Indian Academy of Sciences, particle physics, Higgs boson.

SHE THOUGHT IT

Participation of women in science and research in India is low as well as their presence in high positions in the academia, which is surprising because on the contrary, gifted and high-achieving women are prominently present at schools and colleges in India. In this context Rohini Godbole is playing an important role not only as a scientist, but also as a sought after speaker, lecturer and academic deeply involved in gender issues in science and research. She is a professor at the Centre for High Energy Physics at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Chair of the Panel for Women in Science Initiative of the Indian Academy of Sciences. Besides many fellowship positions and awards she received, she is mostly known for her contribution to fundamental scientific research, specifically the theory of elementary particle physics. She has been involved in studying elementary particles and has spent considerable periods of time abroad. Currently she is engaged in studying theoretical aspects of the experiments being performed at the high energy frontier at the large hadron collider LHC at CERN.

She is a co-editor of two books which encourage girls to take up science: Lilavati’s Daughters: Women in Science in India (2008) and A Girl’s Guide to Life in Science (2010). Together with the colleague Pancheri, she proposed a model that was found very useful and is referred as the “Godbole-Pancheri model.” Last but not least, she was one of the scientists who were striving to find the Higgs particle or Higgs-boson. It is the particle predicted by the Standard Model, which is the theory about three of the four known fundamental forces in the universe, and the Higgs-boson was the last piece to be discovered.

 

SHORT BIOGRAPHY

Rohini Godbole was born in 1952 in a small town close to Pune, second largest city in the Indian state of Maharashtra. Together with three sisters she was born into a family that considered education essential, thus all of them are now involved in science. “One of Rohini’s sisters is a physician, and the other two are science teachers. Rohini went to a girls’ school where they did not teach science, so eventually she had to learn these subjects on her own, since she wanted to pass a scholarship examination to continue science studies”¹ (p. 226). Rohini Godbole was interested in mathematics and physics since young age and she did not even know that there was such as profession as researcher. At one point, her mathematics teacher advised her to get tutor and she was  instructed by her future husband Rohini. It turned out to be a good idea and that is how she got even more enthusiastic about science and math, starting to read books and papers. At first she wanted to become a mathematician, but being scared that she might not find a job, she changed to physics. She graduated both, Bachelor and Master’s degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and after she decided to continue on doctoral studies in the United States¹ (p.227). She considered herself lucky because of a full support from her parents. In 1979 she earned her PhD in particle physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and returned to India where she continued to be very active in research and became a member of many courts and associations.

She is a distinguished theoretical particle physicist, studying elementary particles and has spent considerable periods of time abroad¹ (p. 225). In her research she worked on the Standard Model and Beyond the Standard Model phenomenology, and worked on the structure of proton, photon and nucleus. Furthermore, she focused on theoretical models for production of new particles and devising search strategies for those at high energy colliders.⁴

Rohini was, as a theoretical physicist, involved in the search for Higgs particle for thirty-five years. Even though she was not involved in the actual experiment, she has been very enthusiastic and it felt like a victory for her as well: “When the announcement was being made around 9 am here, I was in the audience. I had goosebumps. For any particle physicist who has been Higgs-hunting for the last 30 years, this was like a dream come true. It is something we have been dreaming of and aiming for”¹ (p. 226).

In 2002 she was invited to the 1st International Conference on Women in Physics, which happened in Paris. Low participation of women in this meeting and the discussions made her think about the society’s attitude toward women who want to pursue a career in science¹ (p. 227). She never had thought of being a researcher, she didn’t even know that someone can have a career as a scientist and do research for living. After being a great example and role model for many women, Rohini Godbole also promoted the idea of women to work in a science field, especially young people. Together with Ramakrishna Ramaswamy she edited the book Lilavati’s Daughters: The Women Scientists of India where a reader finds interviews and biographies of successful women scientists¹ (p. 227). “The title of the book came from a twelfth-century treatise, the Lilavati, written by the famous mathematician Bhaskara, in which he poses different mathematical problems to his daughter Lilavati”¹ (p. 227). Besides this book, Godbole and Ramaswamy organise panels and workshops for young women to talk about science and the challenges that occur on their career path. “The members of the panel know that it is not enough to talk to interested young girls; it is also important that they bring this problem to the attention of their fathers and the young men who may someday be their spouses. Without their understanding and cooperation, nothing can be accomplished”¹ (p. 227).

Rohini Godbole has a personal website where it is possible to find all information regarding her work, positions and research project, as well as information about Indian women in science, and videos. She is an internationally active woman, organising conferences and workshops at home and abroad. She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cabinet of India, chief editor of Pramana – Journal of Physics, published by the Indian Academy of Sciences and a member of the editorial boards of several other journals.

 

SHE SAID IT

“When I was going to USA, 30 years ago, for doing a PhD, the family well wishers pointed out that i might be difficult to get me married once I have done a PhD and that too in the USA. All this when they were supportive/proud of me going to ITT and to do M.Sc. in Physics and getting the Institute Medal by standing first in class.”

Personal website of Rohini Godbole, Women in Science, <http://rmgodbole.in/women-in-science/> (last accessed 15 Feb. 2018).

 

“In the US the senior class in Physics had two girls and one of them told me how she was constantly being told how doing physics was not natural for a girl and how it can hamper getting a boyfriend.”

Personal website of Rohini Godbole, Women in Science, <http://rmgodbole.in/women-in-science/> (last accessed 15 Feb. 2018).

 

PRIZES, ACHIEVEMENTS, HONOURS

1984 – 1992 (1995 – 2001): Associate Member of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics;

1985 – 1988: Elected Young Associate of Indian Academy of Sciences;

1992: Elected Fellow of Indian Academy of Sciences;

2000: Awarded the Sheel Memorial Award for the Best Woman Scientist Lecture -2000, by the National Academy of Sciences, India;

2001: Invited to present the plenary talk in the ‘’International conference on Women in Physics’ held by IUPAP in Paris;

2003: Elected Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy, Delhi;

2004: Awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai, India;

2005: Awarded the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru Centenary Visiting Fellowship’ of the Indian National Science Academy;

2006: Rustom Choksi Award for Excellence in Research in Science of the Indian National Science Academy;

2007: Elected Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad, India;

2007: Meghnad Saha Medal for Theoretical Physics of the Asiatic Society;

2008 – 2018: J. C. Bose fellowship of the Department of Science and Technology of India;

2008: Satyendranath Bose Medal for Theoretical Physics of the Indian National Science Academy;

2010: Elected fellow of the Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS);

2010: C. V. Raman Mahila Vijnana Puraskara of the Matru Vedike of the Swadeshi Vijnana Andolana – Karnataka;

2013 – 2015: Elected Staff Associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy;

2013: Awarded D. Litt (Honoris Causa) by the S.N.D.T. Women’s University – one of the first Women’s University in South East Asia, Mumbai;

2014: D.A.E. Raja Ramanna Lecture Invitee, J.N. Centre for Advanced Scientific Research;

2015: Invitee for the C.V. Raman Lecture of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) organized by the Indian Physics Association (IPA), Mount Carmel College, Bangalore;

2015: Stree Shakti Awardee of the Aditya Pratishthan ,Pune, India;

2015: Devi Award of the New Indian Express Group.

 

INTERTEXTUAL MATERIALS

Video gallery: <http://rmgodbole.in/video-gallery/> (last accessed 19 Feb. 2018)

List of all Rohini Godbole’s publications: <http://www.maiyas.co/godbole/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/pub_may-2016.pdf> (last accessed 19 Feb. 2018)

FURTHER READING:

WORKS CITED

  1. Hargittai, Magdolna, (2015), Women Scientists: Reflection, Challenges, and Breaking Boundaries, New York, Oxford University Press.
  1. “Rohini M Godbole” (2017), Indian Academy of Sciences, <http://www.ias.ac.in/listing/bibliography/reso/Rohini_M._Godbole > (last accessed 15 Feb. 2018).
  2. “Rohini Godbole”, Rohini Godbole personal web page, <http://rmgodbole.in/ > (last accessed 15 Feb. 2018).
  3. “Rohini M. Godbole” (2017), Alumni and Corporate Relations, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, <http://www.iitb.ac.in/alumni/en/awards/2004/distinguished-alumnus/rohini-m-godbole > (last accessed 16 Feb. 2018).

 

 

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