"Thought It Was Spam Mail": Indian Named In Time's Most Influential List

Speaking to NDTV, Priyamvada Natarajan said that as a scientist, this was not something you anticipate at all.

Astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan has been named in TIME's '100 Most Influential People of 2024' list

Astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan on Wednesday spoke about being named in TIME's '100 Most Influential People of 2024' list and said that she thought it was "spam mail".

Speaking to NDTV, she said that as a scientist, this was not something you anticipate at all.

"When I heard from them (TIME Magazine), I thought something was wrong. Although I wrote to them saying that 'I am super grateful and really stunned' but thought is this for real," she said.

Ms Natarajan, who featured in the list alongside World Bank President Ajay Banga, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, actor Alia Bhatt, and Olympian wrestler Sakshi Malik, also spoke about her childhood.

"I was obsessed with maps since I was a young kid so I would devour any atlases of any kind that were around," she told NDTV.

Ms Natarajan, who was born in Tamil Nadu and raised in Delhi, also said that she was quite bookish.

Saying that she won a "birth lottery" with her parents and family, Ms Nataranjan said, "I grew up in a house full of books and got enormous support and encouragement from my parents."

Priyamvada Natarajan On Her Research

Priyamvada Natarajan spoke about her research and said that some of the dominant components of our universe are actually invisible as if they don't emit light directly.

Ms Natarajan, Chair, Joseph S. and Sophia S. Fruton Professorship in Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, has interests in cosmology, gravitational lensing, and black hole physics.

"You can't actually see them and study them like stars and galaxies that have visible light. These entities are dark matter, dark energy, and black holes. So you infer their presence indirectly from their gravitational effects that they actually exert around their vicinity," she told NDTV.

"Over the past 10-15 years, we have got fantastic data from space," Ms Natarajan added.

Why Priyamvada Natarajan Left India

Priyamvada Natarajan said that she had a "wonderful education" experience during her schooling in India and then left the country for higher studies.

She said that she left India as it was not possible to do research as an undergraduate student at that time.

"I left India in the late 1980s when it was hard to get full scholarships. I left India to do research as I was hooked on research," she said.

"As a high school student, I had started doing research at the Nehru Planetarium in Delhi," she added.

She also shared inspiring words for women at work and asked them to "persist", no matter what the odds are.