Organic chemist Asima Chatterjee paved the way for Indian women in science! She was the first female scientist to earn a doctorate (PhD) in science from an Indian University.
Her research in organic chemistry had a great impact on how plants are used for medicinal purposes. Her research has helped develop medicine and treatment for patients with cancer, epilepsy, and malaria.
Born in 1917, when India was still a British colony, she grew up in a relatively comfortable middle-class family in Calcutta, where she was encouraged to pursue an education. She received her PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Calcutta in 1944. She published many papers and had research experience from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and Caltech.
Chatterjee, who died in 2006 at age 89, received one of India’s highest civilian medals, the Padma Bhushan, and was appointed to India’s Parliament.
What is Organic Chemistry? It is the study of compounds that contain the element of carbon. This includes all living things (people, plants, animals) as well as some non-living things (petrochemicals, medicines, etc.).
On September 23rd, 2017 Google’s new Doodle celebrated Asima Chatterjee’s 100th birthday.