Call it a geek streak, but Neena would rather spend her evening solving math problems. It is unadulterated passion for the subject that has made this Indian National Science Academy topper who she is today—the recipient of the INSA Medal for Young Scientists (2014), the Ramanujan Prize (2014), and the Saraswathi Cowsik Medal (2013) by the TIFR Alumni Association for her outstanding work on the Zariski Cancellation Problem (she solved a math problem that was open for 70 years!) According to INSA, hers is "one of the best works in Algebraic Geometry in recent years done anywhere." But Neena is still looking for 'solutions'.
There's so much yet to be learned and explored—and she is absorbed in commutative algebra at the moment. Since what she does is academia driven, she spends her time equally between teaching and research. At the moment she is a full time faculty member at INSA (where, incidentally, she also studied), a visiting faculty member at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, and a visiting scientist at the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. She credits her dad and husband for where she is today. "Most girls in our community get married right after graduation. But, my dad let me get a PhD despite societal pressure. He never questioned my life choices—and my husband continues to extend the same support."