Anna Mani was an Indian physicist who made significant contributions to the field of crystallography. Born in 1918 in Kerala, India, Anna Mani was a bright student who went on to study physics at the University of Madras. After completing her studies, she began working as a research assistant at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. It was here that she developed a keen interest in crystallography, which involves studying the arrangement of atoms in crystals.
In 1950, Anna Mani went to England to work with the famous crystallographer, Dorothy Hodgkin, at the University of Oxford. Hodgkin was a pioneer in the field and had developed the technique of X-ray crystallography, which allowed scientists to determine the structure of molecules. Anna Mani worked as a research assistant to Hodgkin and was involved in the study of penicillin, a groundbreaking discovery that earned Hodgkin a Nobel Prize.
After returning to India, Anna Mani continued her work in crystallography and made several important contributions to the field. She helped establish the Crystallography Laboratory at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and was instrumental in setting up the National Facility for Protein Crystallography at the same institute. She also helped establish the Crystallographic Society of India, which has played a key role in promoting crystallography in the country.
Anna Mani was a woman ahead of her time, who made significant contributions to the field of crystallography despite facing several challenges. She was one of the few women in the field and had to struggle to gain recognition for her work. In an interview, she once said, “I had to prove myself over and over again, which was not easy in those days.”
In addition to her work in crystallography, Anna Mani was also a strong advocate for science education in India. She believed that science education was essential for the country’s progress and worked tirelessly to promote it. She was involved in setting up science clubs in schools and colleges and was a frequent speaker at science conferences and events.
Anna Mani received several awards and honors for her contributions to science. In 1962, she was awarded the Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards. She was also elected as a Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, India. Her contributions to science have been recognized not just in India, but around the world.
Today, Anna Mani is remembered as a pioneer in the field of crystallography and a strong advocate for science education. Her legacy continues to inspire young scientists in India and around the world. As the Crystallographic Society of India said in a statement, “Anna Mani was not only a great scientist, but also a great human being, who believed in the power of science to change the world.”