About

Hello! Thanks for visiting my academic website. Here’s a bit about me:

me_victoria
In front of Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

What I do: I’m a postdoctoral fellow in the Theory of Condensed Matter group at University of Cambridge, working in the research group of Prof. Nigel Cooper. I study the strange quantum behavior of the tiny particles which make up matter. Previously, I did a PhD in Physics from Cornell University, working with Prof. Erich Mueller. You can read my publications on arXiv. I play with ideas and mathematical models to understand the microscopic world, occasionally getting a glimpse of “the great ocean of truth” which lies “all undiscovered before me.” Its indeed a privilege to have such a wonderful job!

Back story: I grew up in a middle-class Indian family near Kolkata. I was mostly a happy and curious child. I dreamt of being a musician, then a mathematician, then a physicist as I neared the end of high school (having very little idea of what either of those meant!). However, due to socio-economic constraints, I was to enroll in an engineering program instead. But as an Electronics and Telecom undergrad at Jadavpur University, I got even more attracted to physics, as I explored some wonderful books, and did some theory work with Prof. Subhankar Ray. Eventually I applied to some physics PhD programs and ended up at Cornell, and then Cambridge. If you’re interested in a more detailed (and dare I say entertaining!) account, read this biographical sketch written as part of my PhD thesis.

Research: As matter is cooled to near absolute zero, strange properties emerge out of interactions between the particles which make up matter (atoms) and light (photons). My work consists of playing with mathematical models of such “quantum gases” to understand the rich features and make testable predictions, which could also have technological applications. Here is a story on our recent work on ripples in a superfluid (a novel phase of matter), written for a general audience: Surprising nature of quantum solitary waves revealed. Here’s another, on “fractional” particles on a film of light: Enlightened path to anyons and quantum computation. To find out more, please explore the Research page (which also describes my undergrad work on other topics).

Teaching: I’ve had the chance to teach a variety of undergraduate physics courses. Much to my initial surprise, I’ve come to discover that I love teaching (apart from the grading bit!). I have learned a great deal from interacting with enthusiastic (and sometimes not-so-enthusiastic!) students. I’m also interested in the findings of physics education research as to what teaching strategies are effective and what aren’t. To find out more about the courses I have taught, my views on teaching, and a collection of exercise problems, please see the Teaching page.

Other things I like: I’m fond of comedy and music, having learned ragas and Bengali music for several years. I also enjoy walking through the woods and thinking (about random things), listening to audiobooks and interviews, reading popular science articles, watching films, documentaries, and panel shows, spending time in a boat, playing cricket, tennis, and the harmonium, and traveling to new places, although I don’t get to do all these things very often. I like to live in the present, keep things simple, and stay hopeful of the future (well, I try!). But on the other hand, I rarely go to the gym and am quite lazy, so there you are.