The Trinity of Ardent Physicists
Mar 19, 2018 | Zakiya Ali
The Department of Physics and Astronomy has always strived for improving its research work with its students and professors working day in and day out to achieve breakthroughs in the physics arena. Team Monday Morning recently caught up with three people from the department to talk about their remarkable achievement. Following is a brief excerpt from their journey to success.
Sumanta Kumar Sahoo
Having worked as an e-astronomer under a unique citizen-science project RAD@Home, Sumanta, a fifth-year student from the Department of Int. MSc. (Physics) recently presented the findings of the group at the 36th meeting of the Astronomical Society of India in Hyderabad on “three intriguing cases of jet-galaxy interaction as a laboratory for AGN (Active Galactic Nuclei) feedback in galaxy merger.” Furthermore, a news article was published concerning the same, the details of which can be found here.
Under this collaboration founded by Dr Ananda Hota, radio astronomer at the Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences (University of Mumbai-Department of Atomic Energy) in Mumbai, the members of RAD@Home, primarily analyse the data collected by the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) by using various software which are freely available.
Sumanta came to know about this a year ago when started doing his final year project jointly under Prof. Anand Hota (CBES Mumbai) and Prof Anant C. Pradhan (NIT Rourkela) on “AGN Positive Feedback.”
Any undergraduate science or engineering student or layman can join this program by first joining the facebook group of RAD@home after which they have to undergo a screening process in which a set of instruction is given which are to be followed to analyze data using NASA Skyview. If they get selected, they are given one week long preliminary training held in various places across India after which they become officially an e astronomer. Following this, a 3-hour long session is conducted every week on Facebook in which the e-astronomers can present their research and discuss and deliberate upon it.
Adding to this, he had also been selected for the Visiting Student Research Program (VSRP) of Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in his 3rd year in which only 9 people from India were selected. In this program, he worked on the “episodic nature of star formation” under Dr Devendra Ojha.
On asking about the selection procedure, he said that he knew the professor because, through the Indian Academy of Sciences(IAS) internship program, he had contacted him through the mail and had discussed with him regarding his interest in astronomy and his prior works on the same. He then came to know about VSRP and applied for it under that Professor. Asking about the prerequisites for the programme, he commented,
A decent CV that reflects on your subject of interest and previous knowledge or research on that topic is a prerequisite. If your interests relate to a project under the program and the subjects that you have been taught in your previous semester are in accord with the same, you’ll get selected.
Speaking about his experience there, he said that the overall experience was good and he came to know about a lot of things related to the field of astronomy such as analyzing spectroscopy, photometry astronomical data and extracting physics from it.
Adding to this, in his final year M.Sc. project, he is working on a manuscript reporting the discovery of a unique jet-galaxy interaction which is a possible case for jet-induced star formation.
Mentioning about his inspiration, he said,
Astro NITR club has instilled in me the fervour for astronomy. It has helped me a lot. Furthermore, my seniors who are already in good positions in the field of astronomy seniors motivated and inspired me to research in this field
Anuj Mishra, a final year student of Integrated M.Sc (Physics) recently bagged a Ph.D. at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA). Furthermore, he is among the top 33 students that cleared the TIFR-GS 2018 as a result of which he has been called for an interview in ICTS-TIFR, Bengaluru and TIFR Mumbai. Adding to this, he has uploaded a research paper as the first author on “the trajectories of null and timelike geodesics in different wormhole geometries” which is expected to be published in a peer journal soon.
On asking him regarding how he managed to get selected in IUCAA, he responded saying that there are two entrances by which one can get into IUCAA. One is Joint Entrance Screening Test (JEST) and the other is a local entrance called IUCAA - NCRA Admission Test (INAT) which is jointly conducted by NCRA TIFR and IUCAA. INAT is conducted free of cost in the month of December in Pune every year and does not require a prior application. Moreover, if you get selected, they even pay for your travel as well as daily expenses. He was a walk-in candidate for the INAT exam. It was an objective paper consisting of 40 questions in the domain of physics. The papers were checked soon after the exams and the names of the shortlisted candidates were announced after lunch time. The next round was the interview which was taken by two separate committees to ensure proper screening of shortlisted candidates. The first interview was conducted on the same day while the second one was taken on the following day.
On asking about the preparation procedures he followed, he said,
I did not specifically prepare for any entrance. I am doing my final year project on “Gravitational waves” under Prof. Sasmita Mishra. I was preoccupied with the same during the month of December due to which I wasn’t able to prepare much. The questions of the entrance required clear concepts and basic knowledge of mostly quantum, classical , statistical mechanics among other topicstopics. Since I had my basics clear, I managed to successfully clear the paper.
Speaking about the interview prior to the selection, he recollected saying that he was very nervous regarding the interview as the interview panel consisted of acclaimed researchers in the physics arena. Fortunately, the members of the committee were very considerate and lightened up the atmosphere. They started by asking about the projects he was working on, his favourite subjects and so on. In the interview which lasted for about 45 minutes, they tested his fundamental knowledge of physics.
On questioning him about the journey that led to the publishing of his research paper, he sheepishly said that he has never secured a formal internship till date. In the summer of his 4th year, when his relentless applications and mail for internships at several Universities got rejected, he mailed a professor from Jadavpur University. Fortunately, his request got accepted so he spent his summer working under the guidance of Prof. Subenoy Chakraborty of that University. The professor was very helpful and inspired him to research on wormholes. He went through the research papers handed over to him and browsed through the internet regarding the work that has already been done in this regard. He got a hint on what hasn’t been done in this field. Then he started research work on this topic and ultimately wrote a manuscript there. He has been modifying his work and is still working on making it better.
Aritra Sinha, a 5th-year student of the department bagged an internship at the Laboratoire de Physique et Modélisation des Milieux Condensés (LPMMC) labs in the Université Grenoble Alpes, France in the summer of his 4th year. His project was on “Anderson localization” which is basically the absence of diffusion of waves in disordered media.
Regarding the procedure of application, he said that since he was intent on doing research in Condensed matter physics so, he had searched specifically about it and mailed around 14 to 20 professors in France who were working on it until he received a positive response. Fortunately, he got selected at LMMC, a world-renowned lab, working on various aspects of theoretical condensed matter physics.
On asking him about the screening process for the internship, he said,
There were no online tests or interviews. Honestly, securing this internship wasn’t much of a difficulty as I had narrowed down my application to the subject and University of my interest. As far as I remember, they only required a bonafide certificate and the dean’s signature.
During his two months stay there, he worked under a researcher Sergey Skipetrov. He learned a lot of things there and the interaction was fruitful and they jointly wrote a paper which got published in Physical Review B which is a peer-reviewed, scientific journal published by the American Physical Society.
During this period, he received a decent stipend of 540 euros per month which was sufficient for the food and lodging. He only had to bear the travel expenses on his own.
Apart from this, Aritra has also interned in Calcutta University in his 3rd year under Prof. Parongama Sen where he worked on Complex Networks. Also, he has researched on Thermalization processes in Quantum mechanics and Nonlinear Dynamics in Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Kolkata in his 2nd year under Prof Arnab Das. Now he’s continuing his research on Condensed matter physics specifically on topological phases of matter and multifractality in his final year project under Prof. Sanjoy Datta.
Furthermore, he recently bagged a PhD in Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland with a full scholarship.
Monday Morning wishes the three of them success in their future endeavors and hopes they scale great heights in their professional careers.