Anita Mehta was born in Calcutta,India, where she obtained an undergraduate degree in physics before moving to Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship to get an MA and D Phil in theoretical physics. She then held a series of postdoctoral positions in IBM New York, Cambridge University and the University of Birmingham, before returning to a permanent position at the S N Bose National Centre in Calcutta, where she is currently Associate Professor of Physics.
Her research interests are centred on the study of complex systems,ranging from black hole aggregation to game-theoretic models of societal learning. However, her main contributions have been in the physics of granular materials, where she is widely regarded as a pioneer.
She has held Visiting Professorships at many institutions on several continents, in particular at the Service de Physique Theorique, Saclay, France where she has been a regular visitor since 1990, and has also been an Associate of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, Italy.
She has organised several international conferences, notably one on 'Granular Physics' at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics as well as an interdisciplinary conference on ' The Anatomy of Laughter' at Oxford University. She has close scientific links with academic institutions in Europe, the US, Central and South America, and is also in close touch with industry, where she recently consulted for Schlumberger Doll Research. She is on the Editorial Board of Granular Matter and JSTAT.
Apart from her purely scientific activities, she is a prolific journalist and science communicator, having been invited to give talks at two UNESCO conferences on various issues facing science and scientists.
She was awarded the Streeshakti award for Woman Scientist of the Year 2004 in her native India, in January 2005.