Sara Abedi

The Graduate Center and City College, City University of New York (CUNY)
Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?

Hi there! My name is Sara Abedi and I am currently in my 4th year of the physics doctoral program at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. My research investigates quantum transport properties of 2D electron systems.

What does a typical day or week look like for you?

Before the pandemic, I would commute to campus every day because I live on Long Island and the campus is in Manhattan. Most of my responsibilities involve data acquisition and data processing. We are always running new experiments, so there’s always data to analyze and interpret. During the semester, I am also a lab teaching assistant for the introductory physics courses at City College. Once a week, I lead a 2 hour lab section with 20+ undergraduates of all levels.

What’s one thing that you’ve enjoyed the most during your PhD?

I’ve always loved teaching physics and the fact I get to do that while pursuing my doctoral research is the best of both worlds.

What’s been the most challenging part of it?

I definitely realized that being a doctoral student, then candidate, is a 9 to 5 job. The core of a STEM doctoral program is the research, so you lose the traditional school element. Without an instructor assigning homework or reviewing for upcoming exams, you are responsible for your own schedule as a graduate research assistant. It’s a lot of self-discipline.

Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
After completing my PhD, I would love to explore jobs outside of academia. Having a physics PhD opens so many opportunities for me, so I would love to see what I can do with my background. I also want to pursue physics education research. The goal is to make the physics curriculum more engaging in hopes of getting more students interested in physics, especially women and underrepresented minorities.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
Do the research! I would reach out to different graduate program directors and see what kind of programs are out there. I would also talk to different graduate students and get their insight. A PhD is a commitment, so you want to be well-informed before making a decision like that.

What makes your university a good place to study?

CUNY is such a melting pot of different STEM fields. You can be pursuing a physics PhD, but you hear someone in the chemistry department needs a physicist. If you are unsure on what kind of research you want to pursue, there are so many research projects to explore. I feel like there’s something for everyone.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I love spending time with my family and friends. I love shopping, going for long walks, journaling, catching up TV shows and movies, and baking.

Want to learn more about Sara?

Check out her publications on ResearchGate and follow her on LinkedIn, Google Scholar and Twitter using the links below:

ResearchGate | LinkedIn | Google Scholar | Twitter

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