Indian-origin scientist Pratibha Gai awarded Britain's royal damehood
Indian-origin scientist Pratibha Gai has been appointed a Dame (female equivalent for a knight) for her services to chemical sciences and technology, as per the Queen's New Year's Honours List 2018, that was released on Saturday. A professor of electron microscopy at the University of York, she is the fourth Indian-origin woman to be awarded the top honor since it was instituted in 1917.
Gai grew up in India idolizing celebrated physicist-chemist Marie Curie. She won the national science talent scholarship, and then another to study PhD in physics from the University of Cambridge. She had worked in the US and the University of Oxford before she joined the University of York. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society, and the Royal Academy of Engineering.
According to The Press, Gai studies dynamic atomic processes in reacting solids during chemical reactions. Her research includes developing new chemical processes and nanomaterials that can be used in varied sectors such as energy, healthcare, and food coatings. Known for creating the atomic-resolution environmental transmission electron microscope, Gai is a renowned advocate for women working in scientific fields.
Gai is also the founding co-director of York's JEOL Nanocentre. She has nine co-authored and edited books and journal issues, and more than 300 refereed scientific papers in important journals to her credit. As the 2013 Laureate for Europe, she was awarded the L'Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science Award. In 2010, she was felicitated with the Gabor medal, and by the Institute of Physics.
On receiving Britain's top honour, Professor Gai told The Northen Echo: "I am truly humbled to receive this national honour and delighted that the research has received this wonderful recognition. "This honour belongs to all the outstanding co-researchers and staff I have collaborated with. I am grateful to them and my main funders the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)."
Before Gai, three other women of Indian-origin have been awarded damehood. They were Maharani Lakshmi Devi of Dhar (1931), educator Asha Khemka (2014), and medicine academician Parveen Kumar (2017). The Queen's New Year's List 2018 will also honor several famous people such as Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, novelist Michael Morpurgo, former deputy PM Nick Clegg, and England's women cricket captain Heather Knight.