Tell us a bit about yourself – what was your PhD about and where did you study?I finished my PhD from Ohio University in March 2020. My field of research is nuclear and particle physics. I am interested in knowing the structure of nucleons (protons + neutrons) in terms of their fundamental constituents: quarks and gluons.
What do you do now? What did you decide to do next after gaining your PhD?I am working as a postdoctoral associate in Prof. Haiyan Gao’s research group in Duke University. I started looking for a postdoc position related to the Jefferson Lab in the Department of Physics at Duke during the last semester of my PhD. Then as soon as I completed my PhD, I joined as a postdoc with Duke University and I am currently stationed at the Jefferson Lab, Virginia.
Has having a PhD helped in developing your career? If yes, what has been the biggest impact? If no, why do you think that is?Definitely – the PhD degree has taught me a lot. My aim is to be a researcher and for that having a PhD degree is foremost. Gaining a PhD degree teaches you a lot of things, like handling pressure, working in a group, communicating ideas with other etc. So I think doing a PhD was most impactful for me.
What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer prospective students considering a PhD?In my opinion a PhD is a long and tough journey which pays off very late. Think twice, know your interest and then make a decision.
And what one thing would you suggest that new PhD graduates should do next?If you want to pursue a career in academia then take at least one postdoc. In the case that you want to change your field then plan a year before you defend so that you can buy enough time to prepare for it. But in either case plan ahead accordingly.
Lastly, what’s your favourite memory from your time as a PhD student?My experiment was supposed to run in 2014 for 100 days. But due to several technical issues with the lab we completed our experiment in 2016. During those two years, we used to setup for the experiment but every time something used to happen and we needed to step back. But finally on December 19, 2016 we completed our experiment. My two fellow colleagues and I were so happy and excited that we got our data for our PhD projects. Moreover we were soon leaving the Jefferson Lab, where we were taking data, after 2 years and returning back to our school. That feeling on 19th December morning is my favorite memory.