Indian Mathematician Prodigy Neena Gupta Wins Ramanujan Prize 2021



On December 13, Mathematician Neena Gupta created history when she was announced as a recipient of the Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians for 2021. Neena is only the fourth Indian to have achieved the feat.  

Gupta received the ‘2021 DST-ICTP-IMU Ramanujan Prize for Young Mathematicians from Developing Countries’ for excellent work in geometry and commutative algebra. She is a mathematics faculty member at the reputed Indian Statistical Institute(ISI) in Kolkata. 

The ISI has two other faculty members among the four Indians who have won the Ramanujan Prize, Ritabrata Munshi and Amalendu Krishna. Gupta is only the third woman to have won this prize that first originated in 2004. 

The Ramanujan Prize celebrates young achievers under the age of 45 in the field of mathematics and carries around $15,000 cash prize. The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) manages it in collaboration with the Indian government’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the International Mathematical Union.

This isn’t the first time Gupta has shot to fame. In 2019, Gupta was awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology. In 2014, she received the Indian National Science Academy’s Young Scientists Award for her solution to the Zariski cancellation problem, a basic problem in Algebraic Geometry. In an interview with an American university, Gupta describes it: “The cancellation problem asks that if you have cylinders over two geometric structures, and that have similar forms, can one conclude that the original base structures have similar forms?”

The Indian National Science Academy described her solution as “one of the best works in algebraic geometry in recent years done anywhere”

Gupta has had a strong interest in mathematics since she was a child. She attended Kolata’s Bethune College for graduation after graduating from Khalsa High School in Dunlop. She received her master’s and Ph.D. degrees from ISI and was hired as a faculty member shortly after.

The Ramanujan Prize is named after Srinivasa Ramajuna Iyengar, a brilliant mathematician who made significant contributions to a wide range of mathematical areas. The Prize is given yearly to a researcher from a developing nation who is under 45 years old on December 31 of the year in which the award is given and has done remarkable research in that country. Researchers in any branch of mathematics are eligible to apply.

Members of the 2021 selection committee included:

Prof. G. Rangarajan (Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, India)                                  

Prof. T. Toro (University of Washington and MSRI Berkeley, USA)                                       

Prof. P. Nang (Ecole Normale Supérieure Libreville, Gabon)                                            

Prof. A. Wade (Pennsylvania State University, USA)                                         

Prof. L. Gottsche (ICTP, Chairman)