Prof. Neena Gupta teaches at Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Kolkata. She is the fourth Indian to win the coveted prize.
Prof. Neena Gupta of the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) Kolkata has won the Ramanujan prize 2021 for “her outstanding work in affine algebraic geometry and commutative algebra, in particular for her solution of the Zariski cancellation problem for affine spaces”.
She is only the fourth Indian and the third woman to receive this coveted prize. The other two female recipients of the award have also been Indians.
The prestigious Ramanujan prize is officially called the DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from Developing Countries and is “awarded annually to a researcher from a developing country who is less than 45 years of age on 31 December of the year of the award, and who has conducted outstanding research in a developing country”.
Born in 1984 in Kolkata, she graduated with honors in Mathematics from Bethune College. She completed her masters in 2008 from the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), Kolkata. She enrolled in the same institute for her doctorate and earned a Ph.D. in algebraic geometry in 2011.
In 2014, just three years after her Ph.D., Dr. Gupta solved one of the world’s greatest mathematics problems: the Zariski Cancellation Problem. This problem was posed by great mathematician Oscar Zariski in 1949 and remained unsolved since.
The Indian National Science Academy recognised this big achievement of Dr. Gupta by awarding her the 2014 Young Scientists Award. The Academy described it as “one of the best works in algebraic geometry in recent years done anywhere.”
She has received many other prestigious awards including the 2017 B. M. Birla Science Prize in Mathematics, the inaugural Professor A. K. Agarwal Award by the Indian Mathematical Society in 2015, and the 2015 Ramanujan Prize by the Ramanujan Institute for Advanced Study in Mathematics.
In an interview to India Today, she said, “Mathematics is not difficult. Unlike other subjects, one can't memorize and no one can spoon feed. If your concept is clear, even you can solve the problems. Practice is the key. There is no other mantra. The more you practice, the more your mind will open up. Once you start doing it, it will start generating your interest and you will fall in love. What happens is when you get scared you start ignoring it.”
Thanking her parents for being always supportive, she said, “There are obstructions in life but my parents have always been very supportive despite societal pressures. When my father asked me how long it would take to complete my Ph.D., I had told him 5 years. But, he was confident I would finish it in 2 years and I did.”