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CSIR gets first woman director general

Senior scientist Nallathamby Kalaiselvi has become the first woman director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a consortium of 38 research institutes across the country.

Her appointment is for a period of two years with effect from the date of assumption of charge of the post or until further orders, whichever is earlier, a personnel ministry order said on Saturday.

Kalaiselvi succeeds Shekhar Mande, who superannuated in April. Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, was given the additional charge of the CSIR upon Mande’s retirement.

Known for her work in the field of lithium ion batteries, Kalaiselvi is at present director of the CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute at Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu.

She will also hold the charge as secretary, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

Kalaiselvi has risen through the ranks in CSIR and had broken the proverbial glass ceiling by becoming the first woman scientist to head the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CSIR-CECRI) in February 2019.

She had started her career in research as an entry-level scientist at the same institute.

Hailing from Ambasamudhram, a small town in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, Kalaiselvi did her schooling in Tamil medium, which, she said, helped her grasp the concepts of sciences in college.

Kalaiselvi’s research work of more than 25 years is primarily focused on electrochemical power systems and in particular, development of electrode materials, and electrochemical evaluation of in-house prepared electrode materials for their suitability in energy storage device assembly.

Her research interests include lithium and beyond lithium batteries, supercapacitors and waste-to-wealth driven electrodes and electrolytes for energy storage and electrocatalytic applications.

She is currently involved in the development of practically viable Sodium-ion/Lithium-sulfur batteries and supercapacitors.

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Kalaiselvi also made key contributions to the National Mission for Electric Mobility. She has more than 125 research papers and six patents to her credit.

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