Gagandeep Kang, an Indian woman scientist is the first Indian woman to be awarded Fellowship of the Royal Soceity, United Kingdom, almost after 180 years. The first Indian male scientist was Ardaseer Cursetjee, who was elected to be part of the society in 1841.
Dr Gagandeep Kang has been tackling the public health challenge posed by the rotavirus in India and has been part of a collaborative effort to develop an indigenous rotavirus vaccine. Kang is the Executive Director of Translational Health Science and Technology Institute in Faridabad, India. As a medical researcher trained in India at the Christian Medical College, Vellore, she believes that “our training and ability is second to none.” However, she adds that “As a woman, I certainly hope my election is not because of, or despite, my gender.”
Kang has worked for the last 30 years on gut infections in Indian children and what those infections do to children in terms of their nutrition and mental development. She has tried to approach the problem in many ways, trying to find solutions, and one of the by-products of her research has been the building of a team to support the development of vaccines in India and networks that generate data to support policy decisions by the Indian government.
Kang was part of the Royal Society of London’s announcement of the list of 51 eminent scientists elected to its fellowship in the year 2019. The Fellowship of the Society is an incredible honour in the scientific world, and Gagandeep Kang, along with the other new Indian Royal Fellows have now joined the ranks of Isaac Newton (1672), Charles Darwin (1839), Michael Faraday (1824), Ernest Rutherford (1903), Albert Einstein (1921), Dorothy Hodgkin (1947), Alan Turing (1951) and Francis Crick (1959) — brilliant scientific minds who created history with their scientific work.
Since then, there have been a few male scientists from India to follow the line, notably Srinivasa Ramanujan (1918) and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar (1944), but sadly, no female scientist.
Founded on November 28, 1660, the Council and Fellows of the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, commonly known as the Royal Society, is the oldest scientific academy the world which has been working continuously for 360 years.