The Doodle today celebrates the 112th birthday of Dr. Kamala Sohonie

112º aniversário de Kamala Sohonie
The Doodle today celebrates the 112th birthday of Dr. Kamala Sohonie

Today’s Doodle celebrates the 112th anniversary of Indian biochemist Dr. Kamala Sohonie.

She was the first Indian woman to obtain a Ph.D. in a scientific field during a time when Indian women were visibly underrepresented in scientific disciplines. By breaking barriers and proving her skeptics wrong, Dr. Sohonie not only did pioneering work in her field of biochemistry but also helped pave the way for future Indian women to overcome gender prejudice and pursue their dreams.

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According to historical family records, Dr. Sohonie was born in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on this day in 1911, the daughter of respected chemist parents. Wanting to follow in her father and uncle’s footsteps, she studied chemistry and physics at the University of Bombay and graduated at the top of her class in 1933. She became the first woman to enter the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), but she faced stringent conditions during her first year—all because the director doubted women’s capabilities in science.

Dr. Sohonie proved her competence and was granted permission to continue her research. In fact, she impressed the director so much that IISc started accepting more women into its program. In the following years, Sohonie studied the various proteins found in legumes and concluded that they enhanced children’s nutrition. In 1936, she published her thesis on the subject and earned a master’s degree.

A year later, she won a research scholarship at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Sohonie discovered cytochrome C, an important enzyme for energy generation, and found it to be present in all plant cells. In just 14 months, she completed her thesis on this discovery and earned her Ph.D. When she returned to India, Dr. Sohonie continued studying the benefits of certain foods and helped develop an affordable dietary supplement made from palm nectar. This nutritious drink, called Neera, is a good source of vitamin C and has been proven to improve the health of malnourished children and pregnant women.

Dr. Sohonie was awarded the Rashtrapati Award for her work on Neera. She also became the first director of the Royal Institute of Science in Bombay.

Happy birthday, Dr. Kamala Sohonie!

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