Senior scientist Nallathamby Kalaiselvi has become the first woman director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a consortium of 38 research institutes across the country.

She succeeds Shekhar Mande, who superannuated in April. Rajesh Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, was given the additional charge of the CSIR upon Mande's retirement, a personnel ministry order said. Known for her work in the field of lithium-ion batteries, Kalaiselvi is at present director of the CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute at Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu.

Kalaiselvi will also hold the charge as secretary of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.


Kalaiselvi has risen through the ranks in CSIR and had broken the proverbial glass ceiling by becoming the first woman scientist to head the Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CSIR-CECRI) in February 2019.

Hailing from Ambasamudhram, a small town in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, Kalaiselvi did her schooling in Tamil medium, which, she said, helped her grasp the concepts of sciences in college.

Kalaiselvi’s research focused on electrochemical power systems, the development of electrode materials and electrochemical evaluation of in-house prepared electrode materials for their suitability in energy storage device assembly.

Kalaiselvi has made key contributions to the National Mission for Electric Mobility. She has more than 125 research papers and six patents to her credit.