Breaking Barriers is a series that focuses the spotlight on dazzling ideas from some of the world’s most extraordinary women! From standing up for social injustice to helping humanity reach Mars, women are breaking down walls and reaching great heights in fields of science, technology, education, business, medicine, and activism to name a few.
Padma Shri & Eminent Indian Classical Dancer
Dr. Ananda Shankar Jayant is a rare artist, a prolific solo and ensemble performer, a critically acclaimed choreographer, a brilliant scholar and an internationally sought after motivational speaker. She has been honoured with prestigious National awards – Padma Shri and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puraskar for Bharatanatyam. A 2009 TED speaker, Ananda’s talk is ranked as one of 12 Incredible TED talks on cancer.
Critically Acclaimed Soprano
Critically acclaimed soprano, Tharanga is the first and only woman from Sri Lanka to have been accepted to Juilliard so far where she was awarded the Makiko Narumi Memorial prize. She is also a recipient of the President Scholarship of Sri Lanka. Tharanga Goonetilleke’s performances have been praised by the Washington Times as ‘Magical’ and her voice by The New York times as ‘appealingly rich.
Dr. Catherine Mohr is President of the Intuitive Foundation, the corporate foundation of Intuitive Surgical, manufacturer of the daVinci surgical system. In this role she invests in research and development programs aimed at understanding and improving education of medical practitioners around the world and applying novel technologies aimed at reducing the global burden of disease.
Resident Physician and Medical Researcher
Dr. Shinjini Kundu is a rare expert in both technology (PhD in engineering) and its applications to medicine (MD). Her research in artificial intelligence is transforming the future of Radiology. In addition to being one of the youngest MD-PhD scientists, Dr. Kundu developed artificial intelligence technology to detect diseases previously imperceptible to humans, which allowed prediction of knee osteoarthritis 3 years before symptoms.
Director of the Public Health & Environment, World Health Organization
As Director of the Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health at the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. María Neira works to raise awareness of the health challenges posed by climate change and air pollution. Among other distinctions, Dr Neira has been awarded the Médaille de l’Ordre du Mérite National by the Government of France, the Spanish National Nutrition Strategy Award, the Mujer Extraordinaria Award by Queen Letizia of Spain.
Kelly Wanser is an advocate and innovator driving near-term options for ensuring a safe climate. In her role as Executive Director of SilverLining, she oversees the organization’s efforts to promote scientific research, science-based policy, and effective international cooperation in rapid responses to climate change.
Quantum Physicist and Equity Advocate
Dr. Shohini Ghose is a Physics Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada where she explores the quantum world. She is the author of the popular science book Clues to the Cosmos. She examines how quantum physics can transform computing and communication and be used for novel tasks such as teleportation. She and her colleagues were the first to observe a connection between chaos theory and quantum entanglement.
Dr. Archana Kamal is a faculty at UMass and her research focuses on enabling quantum information technologies with engineered quantum systems, which can exploit and control delicate quantum effects at macroscopic scales. Her work was instrumental in pioneering the new field of ‘nonreciprocal information processing’ – a crucial ingredient for bridging quantum and classical computers, and was recognized by the MIT TR35 award under “Visionaries” category.
Digital Minister, Taiwan
Audrey Tang (Tang Feng), made the 2019 list of 100 global thinkers published by Foreign Policy magazine. She has leapt into prominence in Japan for creating an app that combats coronavirus by showing face mask inventory levels at a glance. In 2016, she became Taiwan’s youngest ever government minister at the age of 35. Recently she has wowed Japan and the rest of the world with her leadership on the coronavirus crisis.