Condensed Matter Physics, UC Davis




Many people go for research or aspire to be a researcher, all have their reasons, but I promise you can’t find a man with the inquisitive allurement this guy approaches with, today we bring to you, Siddharth Vadrenkar( aka SidV), Engineering Physics student from the batch of 2013, major in Condensed Matter Physics, UC Davis 2017.If you ever fall into dilemma of what you want to do in life, and you realise you have half the interest in research as this brilliant individual, then you would know what you should. Here is an excerpt from Siddharth himself,

“People find puzzles interesting, the rush of solving problems. As more and more time passes, puzzles get more and more complex, and by the virtue of it as time spent on fathoming a problem increases, that rush increases too, the more time you spend, the higher is the reward on procuring the solution. Research is nothing but an extension ad infinitum of this argument, targeting problems no one else has done, being the only one attempting to solve and being the only one to have the plausibility of consuming on that rush. Make no wrong perceptions, it is anything but may to finally consume that rush, one might spend weeks, months or years in futile looking for treasure which was never buried, but once in a blue moon you’ll find a treasure no one even had the slightest knowledge of existence. And this is what motivated me to pursue what I am pursuing at the end of my second year.

And thereafter the courses at IIT reinforced my interest even more. In my third year, I did a brilliant course of Computational Physics under Professor Sujin Babu. That course was as interesting as it gets at IIT and at the end we had to submit a term paper, modelling a phenomenon. I chose a hurricane, it was fun, like real fun. I look back at those days and realise that those little things amassed to brought me closer to Physics, closer than one can imagine. There also were many high energy Physics courses which were extremely riveting,  but a bit more field specific. If you ask me, quantum physics is the closest to the truth of all nature, all phenomenon we have got, I reckon everyone during their stay at IIT should always always take a course in Quantum. And quantum still interests me as much as any other field out there. What also facilitated me get the skills indispensable for a researcher were working under some professors. Prof. Burra, Multani and Ambuj to name a few. They provided complete freedom in turning all stones one could, obviously in the area confined by the course structure. And therefore these very courses freed you from the mechanical thinking, doing things in a particular way, they gave the freedom of free thinking and this skill is superset of all you need in a researcher.

And when finally the time arrived for applications, it was an unpleasant surprise. Most of us assume that applying to a college would not be as tense as applying for a job. Actually what turns out is that it is even more tensed, getting those 3 LoRs, mailing the professors, organising your GRE scores, doing all that. To get a good college in US, you need two things- A good CG, preferably over 9 and a great research background, if you want an opportunity to go for higher studies, you need to have as many as research opportunities you can get on your CV, not only in terms of quantity you need to be well backed up but in terms of quality as well. Having good summer intern, good projects, all this will contribute to your research And then comes choosing your college, as you can’t apply to all of them. All this is as hectic as applying for a job, and what makes it worse is that you won’t know the outcome till the eleventh hour, and if you don’t get selected you will not even know, in case of jobs you get the result then and there. The college sends you no mail, nothing until you are selected, you are in a room without any light, surrounded by darkness and until someone opens the door, you can’t see anything, this is the very situation; but one must hang on, light will shine.

When you finally get into your dream college in a foreign land, it is an overwhelming experience to speak meekly of it if I may. A cultural shock to say the least, meeting so many different people of different colour, different culture, different ways of living their life, you feel deserted. But as soon as you realise that you are not alone, everyone, foreigners or not, are just trying hard to fit in, and this cognisance makes your settling in exponentially faster and better. Eventually, you stop finding it different from home. Also, there might be people who may get dissuaded because of high fees, to them I want to convey that there might not be many scholarships available in US universities, but TAships and campus jobs can easily cover your expenses. Do not let this be a factor again pursuing something you love.

If what you love is exploring every bit of knowledge there is and wish to grow it even more you know what to choose. What I have found out a lot in people is that they want their life to be a straight road, and soon as a slope comes, they bail out because it’s not easy enough. I agree some subjects would be difficult enough, some would seem impossible and you might not be able to get through them. But you know who would surely not get through the tough subjects?- the ones who quit. So just stick up even if the slope seems too high, because ultimately the fun is at the descend of the slope.”

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