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Seminar to remember woman scientist

Special Correspondent

KANNUR: A national seminar on ‘E.K. Janaki Ammal and her contribution to Indian science' will be held at Thalassery on November 4 under the auspices of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), New Delhi.

Many people connected with the late Janaki Ammal, including her students, taxonomists, past awardees of the E.K. Janaki Ammal National Award on Taxonomy, instituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, would attend the seminar, NMNH director B. Venugopal said in a release. Students and teachers of botany and zoology from the Kannur and Calicut Universities would also attend. Janaki Ammal was the first Indian woman scientist to get a Ph.D., he said. She was born at Thalassery in a middle class family in 1887. After obtaining her postgraduate degree in 1925 from the University of Michigan, she had become the first Oriental Barbour Fellow and got her D.Sc. degree there in 1931. From 1940 to 1945, Janaki Ammal had worked as assistant cytologist at the John Innes Horticultural Institute in London.

Invited by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to re-organise the Botanical Society of India, she returned to India in 1951. As a noted botanist and plant cytologist, she made significant contributions to genetics, evolution, phytogeography and ethno-botany. She had also played a significant role in shaping plant genetics and a debate on the role of science in independent India. The government of India conferred Padma Shri on her in 1977. The event will have an academic session related to Janaki Ammal, felicitation of past awardees of the E.K. Janaki Ammal National Award and prize distribution. Savitha Preetha Nair, a science historian based in the United Kingdom, who is authoring a biography of Janaki Ammal, would deliver the keynote address.

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