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Indian mathematician Neena Gupta wins Ramanujan Prize 2021 for her work in algebraic geometry

Neena Gupta is the third woman to receive the Ramanujan Prize, which was first awarded in 2005. She is the fourth Indian to win this prestigious prize. Prior to her, three of the other four winners are also associated with the ISI Kolkata. 

Written by Sakshi Saroha | New Delhi I |
Updated: December 27, 2021 6:27:13 pm
Mathematician Neena GuptaHumbled by the achievement, Neena said that it is an honour to receive the award but there is a lot more to be done in the field of commutative algebra. (Graphics by Abhishek Mitra)

Neena Gupta, a mathematician and professor at the Indian Statistical Institute in Kolkata, has been awarded the 2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for young mathematicians from developing countries. She received the prize for her outstanding work in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, in particular for her solution to the Zariski cancellation problem for affine spaces. 

Humbled by the achievement, Neena said that it is an honour to receive the award but there is a lot more to be done in the field of commutative algebra. Her solution for solving the Zariski cancellation problem earned her the 2014 Young Scientists Award of the Indian National Science Academy. 

Talking to indianexpress.com, Neena said, ”I feel honoured to receive this prize however, this is not enough. As a researcher, I feel there are lot more mathematical problems that we have to find a solution for. Getting recognised for the work definitely motivates to do work harder in the research field.”

Gupta was born and brought up in Kolkata. She completed her schooling at Khalsa High School, Dunlop after which she went to study BSc Maths (H) at Bethune College. She earned a masters and PhD in mathematics from the Indian Statistical Institute.

“Mathematics has always been my favourite subject since childhood. However till very late, I had no idea that I could even pursue a degree let alone have a career in mathematics. One of my seniors introduced me to BSc Maths (H) course and I was elated with the opportunity to learn and solve maths problems,” Gupta shared. 

“The initial idea instituted in me was to get a decent degree and get married. That’s what my family had taught me till the time I was in college. But once they realised my interest in the subject, they motivated me to continue pursuing my interest. My mother has been the biggest support throughout my life and because of her sacrifices I was able to pursue higher education,” she further explained. 

Talking about the general notion, where it is believed that boys usually do better in calculative subjects than girls, Gupta said that the trend is changing now. “Earlier during my post-graduation, I was the only girl in my class. But now when I am a professor, I see more women pursuing the maths field. One reason could be awareness among youth as well as parents who now give opportunities to their daughters to pursue their interests,” she said. 

Gupta is the third woman to receive the Ramanujan Prize, which was first awarded in 2005. She is the fourth Indian to win this prestigious prize. Prior to her, three of the other four winners are also associated with the ISI Kolkata. 

“ISI Kolkata is one of the premier institutes for any one who is interested in pursuing statistics and mathematics for higher education. The course structure, faculty and the environment of the institute is the reason why its alumni are highly successful in their fields,” Gupta said. 

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