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MIT names Pakistan origin scientist as Dean

MIT names Pakistan origin scientist as Dean

MIT names Pakistan origin scientist as Dean

Lahore-born Nergis Mavalvala was appointed as the dean of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) School of Science — one of the five schools at the institute. 

Astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Science, effective Sept. 1. She will succeed Michael Sipser, who will return to the faculty as the Donner Professor of Mathematics, after six years of service.

Mavalvala, the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics, is renowned for her pioneering work in gravitational-wave detection, which she conducted as a leading member of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory,” the MIT press release said.

It further added that she has received numerous awards and honors for her research and teaching, and since 2015 has been the associate head of the Department of Physics. Mavalvala will be the first woman to serve as dean in the School of Science.

“Nergis’s brilliance as a researcher and educator speaks eloquently for itself,” says MIT President L. Rafael Reif. “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.”

Provost Martin Schmidt announced the news today in a letter emailed to the MIT community, writing, “I very much look forward to working with Nergis and to benefiting from her unerring sense of scientific opportunity, infectious curiosity, down-to-earth manner and practical wisdom. I hope you will join me in congratulating her as she brings her great gifts as a leader to this new role,” the press release added further.

As with most everything she takes on, Mavalvala is energized and optimistic about the role ahead, even as she acknowledges the unprecedented challenges that the school, and the Institute as a whole, are facing in these shifting times.

“We’re in this moment where enormous changes are afoot,” the press release quotes Mavalvala as saying. 

“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and economic challenge, and we’re also in a moment, at least in U.S. history, where the imperative for racial and social justice is really strong. As someone in a leadership position, that means you have opportunities to make an important and hopefully lasting impact.”

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