Astrophysicist Nergis Mavalvala has been named the new dean of MIT’s School of Science, effective Sept. 1. She will succeed Michael Sipser, who will return to the faculty as the Donner Professor of Mathematics, after six years of service.
Professor Mavalvala, whose career spans 20 years, has published extensively in her field and has been working with MIT since 2002.
Mavalvala did her BA at Wellesley College in Physics and Astronomy in 1990 and a Ph.D in physics in 1997 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Before that, she was a postdoctoral associate and then a research scientist at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), working on the Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO).
As with most everything she takes on, Mavalvala is energized and optimistic about the role ahead, even as she acknowledges the unprecedented challenges that the school, and the Institute as a whole, are facing in these shifting times.
Mavalvala is a recipient of numerous honors and awards, including in 2010 the MacArthur Fellowship. and in 2015 she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, as part of the LIGO team. In 2017, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
That same year, the Carnegie Corporation of New York recognized Mavalvala as a Great Immigrant honoree. She is also the first recipient of the Lahore Technology Award, given by the Information Technology University, a public university in Pakistan.