Pakistani Astrophysicist Named Dean at MIT School of Science


Now Reading: Pakistani Astrophysicist Named Dean at MIT School of Science

Continuing to make the country proud, the Pakistan-born astrophysicist – Nergis Mavalvala – has been named the new Dean of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) School of Science. She will be succeeding Michael Sipser effective September 1, who will be stepping down after six years as the institute’s Dean and returning to the faculty as the Donner Professor of Mathematics. According to MIT, Mavalvala will be the first woman to serve as the institute’s dean.

The Karachi born Astrophysicist is renowned for her pioneering work in gravitational-wave detection as she was among the team of scientists who verified Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity. Mavalvala, in part with her team, detected ripples in gravitational waves and proved a hundred years old hypothesis by the legendary physicist.

This accomplishment as the leading member of LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) has granted her numerous awards and honors. She is also particularly well known for her research and teaching, and since 2015 has served MIT as the associate head of its Physics Department. Now, she will become the first woman to head an institute under MIT.

Mavalvala ‘Energized and Optimistic’ About the Role

Dr. Mavalvala seems to be ‘energized and optimistic’ about serving the institute as its Dean. Whilst also acknowledging the challenges that lie ahead, she talked about how amazing her time as the Physics Department’s Associate Head has been. She talked about her amazing colleagues and students and how they also inspired her to become the best version of herself. “I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people. Through him [department head Peter Fisher], I’ve learned about leadership with compassion, with heart,” she said.

Looking forward to her role as the Dean of MIT’s School of Science, she added;

“We’re in this moment where enormous changes are afoot. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and economic challenge, and we’re also in a moment, at least in US history, where the imperative for racial and social justice is really strong. As someone in a leadership position though, that just means you have the opportunities to make an important and hopefully, long-lasting impact. Some things will be hard to do, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

She also credited the former Dean in making MIT have the impact that it has on the world. “In some ways, the years leading up to the pandemic have been good years for MIT from the side of scientific discovery, and our impact on the world,” Mavalvala said. “I’m awed by the number of things that Mike has done and has left in good shape. I will always be grateful for that, and plan to carry on with the many things that work well, while also continually improving what we do and how we do it, as needs and demands shift,” she further added.

MIT President Showers Praises for Mavalvala


“Nergis’s brilliance as a researcher and educator speaks eloquently for itself,” said MIT President L. Rafael Reif on this occasion. Further continuing to describe her leadership qualities and praising her scientific accomplishments, the President added;

“What excites me equally about her appointment as dean are the qualities I have seen in her as a leader: She is a deft, collaborative problem-solver, a wise and generous colleague, an incomparable mentor, and a champion for inclusive excellence. As we prepare for the start of this most unusual academic year, it gives me great comfort to know that the School of Science will remain in such capable hands.”

Malvala’s great accomplishments deserve all the praises she is getting. She is also making Pakistan proud in the World’s eyes and better its image in the world. May she accomplish great things as MIT’s Dean!


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