The First Woman Dean of the School of Science at MIT

Nergis Mavalvala, the Curtis and Kathleen Marble Professor of Astrophysics, has been named the new dean of School of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When she takes office on September 1, Dr. Mavalvala will be the first woman to hold the position.

Professor Mavalvala is known for her pioneering work in gravitational-wave detection, which she conducted as a leading member of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. Since 2015, she has been associate chair of the physics department at MIT.

“MIT is one of the top places in the world for doing cutting-edge science, and we will continue to maintain that eminence. At the same time, we also have to push on issues of diversity, issues of racial and social justice, and of work-life balance,” Dr. Mavalvala said. “There’s this idea at places like MIT that to be as excellent as we are in science and education, that has to come at the cost of all other aspects of being human. I reject that idea. So part of what I’d like to do, and part of my vision of a better MIT, is to find ways for those things to coexist, in good balance. I don’t have any illusions that some of these things will be harder to do, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.”

Professor Mavalvala was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and grew up in Karachi. She earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Dr. Mavalvala holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT and conducted postdoctoral research at the California Institute of Technology.

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