Rashi Wadhwa Summer 2019 Blog

I remember the last day of my application submission when I had successfully submitted the duly filled form for S.N. Bose Scholar Program. I had almost forgotten about the program because I didn’t expect my selection. On the chilly morning of January, I saw the notification that I had been provisionally shortlisted for SN Bose Scholar Program 2019. It was very pleasant surprise and joyful moment, but the journey had just begun. I came to know that I had to contact WINStep Forward, the program coordinator for the scholarships.  I was informed that next step was to get an acceptance from the professor of my choice and to get the US visa, which was a tough and long process. I wrote to many of the US professors working in the field of my interest, Particle Astrophysics. And I was eagerly waiting for their reply. Every day was mind numbing and then I got a reply from a learned professor of Physics, Professor Stephane Coutu, Pennsylvania State University. He was ready to host me for the summer internship. I got an opportunity to work in his lab. He promised me to provide me with accommodation and meal plan. I was delighted and excited to work in USA.

The Professor and the university staff helped me in getting met the documents required for the VISA application. I enjoyed every stage of the program. I was hopeful and positive. My parents, my family, teachers and friends supported me. A special thanks to my father who supported and guided me at all stages. I am obliged to my teachers: Dr Mallika Verma, Dr Rashmi Rakshit and Dr SN Sandhya and my college Miranda House who showed faith in my abilities.

In the end, everything worked well. The hard work and sleepless nights paid off and I was ready to fly to the USA. I landed in State College on 27th May at the night. My professor and his wife picked me from the airport and dropped me at my apartment. I was happy to witness such a kind gesture. The next morning was a quite different morning for me. I was on a cloud nine and wasn’t able to believe that finally I was in THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. That morning brought another charm in my life.

The environment was serene and I felt that I was surrounded with the positive vibes. The trees, the people, the birds and the buildings were the source of my energy and enthusiasm.

I was working on the balloon-borne experiment, named- HELIX (High Energy Light Isotope eXperiment). It is designed to measure the chemical and isotopic abundances of light cosmic-ray nuclei from ~200 MeV/nucleon to ~ 10 GeV/nucleon. It will provide significant data for the study of the propagation, origin and acceleration of the cosmic rays. The balloon is expected to fly in Antarctica by December 2020. I tested Silicon Multipliers or SiPMs which are to be used in fabrication of time-of-flight detector. The operating voltages for each SiPMs was noted. The testing was done for the various temperatures and pressure. The plots were made using C++ and python scripts in the ROOT software suit of CERN. Dr Isaac Mognet, Research Adviser helped me at all stages and patiently answered my queries.

I also participated in the REU Program of Pennsylvania State University. I learnt a lot of things. It was a wonderful platform to interact with American undergraduate students. There were lot of seminars held on the new technologies. I visited The Franklin Institute Museum in Philadelphia as a science outreach program.

The State College is a beautiful place. It is a small town in Central Pennsylvania. Americans are friendly and are always there to lend their helping hand. I am owed of them for their kind heartedness.  I used to have my meal at Redifer Commons. They provide variety of foods.

I felt overwhelmed to partake in number of activities. I volunteered at the Central Pennsylvania Arts Fest. It was fun to make Ice-cream using Liquid Nitrogen. I also volunteered at the AstroFest of Physics Department. It was a pleasure to look at the astrophysical things and phenomena. The most fascinating part was that I saw the planets named “Saturn” and “Jupiter” using telescopes. It was also a good experience.

Penn State Berkey Creamy was my favourite spot. I loved to taste different and delicious flavours of ice-cream. “Death by Chocolate” was my favourite one. It was a joyful moment. Palmer Museum of Arts was a beautiful museum. It has collection of paintings, drawings, photographs, print, sculptures and Asian ceramics. I did ice-skate in Pegula Ice Skating.

I was encapsulated by the rapturous feeling of been selected for one of the most prestigious and highly competitive programs. I feel lucky to be SN Bose Scholar at one of the elite and reputed universities……The Pennsylvania State University!!!

The whole experience was intellectually enriching and has a great impact on my holistic growth. It was my international trip and I had mixed feeling. I was scared and excited.  But this trip made me outgoing, surefooted, moreover independent and confident.

I extend my gratitude to WINStep Forward Inc., IUSSTF and the Government of India for providing this golden and aureate opportunity. I would also like to thank Professor Dr Stephane Coutu, Dr Isaac Mognet, Yu (Carl) Chen, Monong Yu, Ms Darlene Miceli and the other PSU people for helping me.  It was a blissful moment and motivated me to pursue career in research in the future.

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