Physics Recruitment

Meet Our Graduate Students

Meet Spoorthi Nagasamudram

Short bio:
I’m a 5th year Ph.D. student working with Prof. Norbert Scherer. My research focuses on the optical trapping of nanoparticles and studying the cool dynamics that emerge from light-matter interactions. Aside from being in the lab, I enjoy taking care of my plants and fostering dogs. I also love writing poetry and getting involved in theatre.
Who inspires you?
Growing up I was always inspired by the books I read by strong women writers like Maya Angelou and Arundhati Roy but what continues to inspire me today is the fact that there are so many more strong women in my life who inspire me to grow and do what I’m passionate about.

What are you fans of?
I’m a big fan of plants (I have collected up to 30+ plants so far) and dogs. I also enjoy doing yoga regularly and bingeing Netflix.

Why did you choose to study physics?
I always found physics challenging as a kid. I got the worst grades in physics and I found the concepts difficult to wrap around my head. And I think that is what drew me to it in the first place. I have always enjoyed a good challenge in my life and studying physics challenges me and keeps me grounded at times.

Why did you choose UChicago?
I was really interested in studying particle physics in college. And what drew me to uchicago first was the fact that it was so close to Fermilab. Over the years, what I liked about UChicago has definitely changed and what I like about it now are the endless opportunities to do interdisciplinary research. I love how collaborative the research is which has motivated me to explore so much more of my intellectual interests than before.

What are the best things about your PhD program?
I love the fact that I get to have the flexibility to dictate my work hours and the kind of projects I want to work on. I also love my cohort who have been incredibly supportive over the years. There are also a number of career development events which have helped me explore careers outside of academia. I also really enjoyed taking some classes in my first year like Bob Wald’s EM and Vincenzo Vitelli’s Classical Mechanics.

What was the best surprise about UChicago or life in Chicago?
I love that there is so much diversity in Chicago in terms of culture. Being a person of color myself, I’m very happy to have found a community of people who understand and appreciate my culture. I also love learning about other cultures which is so easy when you are surrounded by such a diverse community. I also love the fact that I can explore my interests outside of physics like trying out theatre at uchicago. The opportunities really are endless. Chicago is a beautiful city (yes, even in the winter) and there are always new things I’m discovering about it every day.

If you could share any advice to your colleagues, what would it be?
Don’t worry too much about publishing X number of papers or getting that fellowship or winning awards. Enjoy what you do and do what you enjoy. Everything will fall into place on its own. And always remember your why. Make time for people and things you love. And remember that there is so much more to you than just your research.
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