Dr Nergis Mavalvala
Dr Nergis Mavalvala
Dr Nergis Mavalvala

Dr Nergis Mavalvala is an American based Pakistani astrophysicist and is known for her part in 1st observation of the ‘Gravitational Waves.’ She is Astrophysics Professor at MIT-Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she performs the role of Dean of School of Science of University.

Previously, she worked as Associate-Head of Physics Department in this University. In 2010 she received ‘MacArthur Fellowship.’

She is popularly known for work on gravitational waves detection in LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) project, e.g., she performed pioneering-experiments on laser cooling of the Macroscopic materials. This article carries every information about her, including Dr Nergis Mavalvala Biography.

Name:Dr Nergis Mavalvala
Famous As:Interferometric Gravitational Waves, Quantum Measurement
Nationality:Pakistan, United States
Residence:Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Education:PhD in Physics from MIT
Doctoral advisor :Rainer Weiss
Thesis :Alignment issues in laser interferometric gravitational-wave detectors (1997)
Institutions :Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Fields :Astrophysics and Quantum Physics
Awards :2013 Joseph F. Keithley, Award for Advances in Measurement Science Recipient, MacArthur Fellows
Worked On:Development of exotic quantum states of light
Place:Lahore Pakistan

Dr Nergis Mavalvala Biography

Dr Nergis Mavalvala Biography

Negis is considered a role model and inspiration for motivating young female scientists and researchers with their roots in Indian Sub-continent. Since childhood, she didn’t bound herself to gender stereotypes in sub-continents’ culture due to the environment in which she and her sister were raised.

She believes most of the part of her success is due to her mentors in Pakistan and USA that stimulated her academic capability. She is of the view that opportunities should be created for young females to do whatever they are competent.

Not only Pakistani people but she also received acclamation from her foreign fellows. Her splendid achievements earned her many recognitions and awards.

Nergis Date of Birth

She was born in 1968 in Lahore, Pakistan.

Education of Nergis

She did O/A levels from CMJ (Convent of Jesus & Mary Karachi). In 1986 she moved to the USA and took admission at Wellesley College and secured the Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy & Physics. Before her graduation, she, along with Robert Berg, her Physics-professor authored a paper in ‘Physical Review-B: Condensed Matter.’

She also assisted him in setting his research lab. Then she joined Dr Rainer’s group in the physics department of MIT and obtained her degree of doctorate in 1997.

Dr Nergis Mavalvala Religion

Dr Nergis Mavalvala Family

She belonged to a Parsi-family and was the younger child of her parents. Her parents significantly focused on the education of their daughters and also motivated Mavalvala to go abroad for higher studies. As a child, she always took an interest in Science and Math and thought she was good at these subjects as compared to Humanities.

She was brought up in Mazdayasna faith. She is a lesbian and has two children and live in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the USA.


Early Career

As a student at the MIT, she carried out her Doctoral projects under the supervision of Dr Rainer Weiss. She made a prototype ‘Laser Interferometer’ for detection of the Gravitational Waves. After completing her graduation, she started working as a research scientist and post-doctoral researcher at Caltech (California Institute of Technology).

There she began her work with the cosmic microwave-background and subsequently working on ‘LIGO.’ She focuses primarily on the two branches of Physics that is ‘Quantum-Measurement Science,’ and ‘Gravitational Waves-Astrophysics.’ In 2002 she joined Physics faculty at MIT and in 2017 was elected to NAS (National Academy of Sciences).

Detection of the Gravitational Waves

She was part of the scientists’ team who 1st time observed gravitational waves. Since 1991 she had been working on these waves. The notification was made public on 11th Feb 2016. This detection verified the significant prediction of 1915 General-Theory of Relativity of Albert Einstein.

Increased Popularity and Interviews

After this announcement, she became a notable scientist in Pakistan, her birthplace. In her media talk, she told the media that we are going to witness opening a new tool for performing Astronomy.

In her interview with leading Pakistan’s newspaper ‘Dawn’, she stated that she thought of what she wants Pakistani people to know, as she has garnered attention in Pakistan. Anybody should have the ability to succeed-regardless of gender, strength and religion.

Then PM-Nawaz Shareef appreciated her and called her an inspiration source for students and scientists in Pakistan.

Invitation to Visit Pakistan

On 20th Feb 2016, Jaleel Abbas Pakistani Ambassador to the USA conveyed the Pakistani Government’s message of compliments to her for her splendid achievements in Astrophysics field. He invited her to revisit Pakistan that she accepted.

Dr Nergis Mavalvala partner

Laser cooling

Optically cooling the mirrors to almost absolute-zero can assist eliminate noise rising from the thermal vibrations. Some part of her work concentrated on extending the techniques of laser cooling to cool optically and trap more massive things both for ‘LIGO’ project and some other applications including enabling observation of the Quantum phenomenon in large-sized objects.

Significant results in this area included observation of the 2.7kg pendulum near its ground state and cm-scale object to 0.8 Kelvins temperature.

Quantum states of the light

She also performed on developing quantum states of the light and especially, light generation incoherent states. By administering such states into Km-scale ‘Michelson-Interferometer’ of LIGO detectors. Her team improved detector’s sensitivity by lessening quantum noise.

Dr Nergis Mavalvala Recognitions & Awards

  1. In 2005 she received Sloan Research Fellowship
  2. She received APS and MacArthur Fellowship in 2010
  3. In 2013 she received the Joseph F. Keithley Award for Advances in Measurement Science by APS (American Physical Society)
  4. In 2014 she received OSA Fellowship.
  5. In 2014 National Organization of Gay & Lesbian Scientists & Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) recognized her as GLBT scientist of the year.
  6. She became co-recipient of ‘Gruber Prize in the Cosmology’ in 2016 and also the co-recipient of ‘Special Breakthrough Prize in the Fundamental Physics.’
  7. She won 1st Lahore Technology-Award that was launched by ITU (Information Technology University ) in 2017