The Heising-Simons Foundation Fully Funds the DPF Meenakshi Narain Mentoring Award

R. Sekhar Chivukula, Distinguished Professor of Physics at UC San Diego and the chair of the Executive Committee of the Division of Particle Physics (DPF) at the American Physical Society (APS), recently announced the funding of the Division of Particle Physics (DPF) Meenakshi Narain Mentoring Award in honor of former Department Chair Meenakshi Narain.

Professor Chivukula said that the “strong show of support for the endowment from friends and colleagues helped to demonstrate that Meenakshi’s scientific and mentoring contributions have had a lasting impact on our community that is worthy of recognition. Meenakshi is very much missed. Through this award, her memory and legacy will continue to be remembered in the years to come.”

Professor Narain’s husband and research collaborator, Professor Ulrich Heintz, reflected on the spirit of mentoring being a subject close to Meenakshi’s heart, saying, “Since Meenakshi’s passing, many young colleagues have told me that Meenakshi helped them in one way or another achieve success in their careers. Mentoring her students and postdocs had always been central to Meenakshi’s work as a scientist.

But when she was elected chair of the USCMS institution board with the charge to represent the interests of the US members of the CMS Collaboration, one of her main responsibilities was to participate in the search committee that discusses assignments of positions of responsibility in the collaboration. She made it her mission to argue for a more equitable process that focuses on the qualifications of the candidates. She especially promoted younger scientists in this process, to the benefit of all her young colleagues, not just those from the US.

Many of these colleagues told me they regretted not having the chance to thank her in person for her role due to travel limitations in the last few years because of the pandemic and Meenakshi’s health. I am grateful that Sekhar Chivukula, the chair of DPF, proposed to name the DPF mentoring award after Meenakshi and that many family members, friends, colleagues, and former students, as well as the Heising-Simons Foundation, collected a big enough endowment to make it a full APS-level ward. This will be a fitting memorial of her legacy as a mentor and hopefully encourage many others to follow the path she showed us.”