I, (Uzair) am currently doing a Phd in Physics at University of Kansas. My research lies in the field of astroparticle physics and is working on the ARA (Askaryan Radio Array) experiment which is a part of the IceCube collaboration at the South Pole. I am currently in first year and is doing research and as well as coursework. I graduated from LUMS in 2014 with a BS in Physics and worked in the Physics Dept. of LUMS for a year as a lab instructor and researcher. I plan on to continue as a researcher in the field of astroparticle physics. I am a big fan of Arsenal Football Club and of progressive and post rock and Porcupine Tree and Explosions in the Sky are two of my favorite bands.
When I first came across the concepts of Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum mechanics in my A levels I was bewildered and I was curious. I needed answers but unfortunately neither the people around me or my teachers knew enough to satisfy my curiosity. Everyone said to me that only if you do a degree in physics then only will you get to know these answers.
Therefore I came to LUMS with the mind-set of majoring in Physics. I had been fascinated by astronomy since my childhood and choosing my major was not difficult for me at all. However my parents were a bit apprehensive about it as would the people in general society as physics does not have the “engineering” label next to it.
Somewhere in the middle of my freshman year I started working for LUMS Adventure Society (LAS) too. On my first MayTrip in 2010 I saw the mighty Nanga Parbat at night glistening and glittering in moon light in the clear sky and I quickly realized that this is what I have to do in my time in LUMS. Physics is considered to be one of the most demanding majors of SSE and it is! I did not want to stop work for LAS neither I wanted to quit physics as both were passions so I had to sacrifice. The sacrifice was that I never really “lived” in LUMS either I was in the mountains or in our long LAS meetings (which I used to thoroughly enjoy) or I was in my lab in my closed room which did not have any windows studying for 8 to 10 hours (sometimes more!) a day. An example of my routine was that take classes all day and afternoon work for LAS in the evening. Start doing assignments and other work at 10 pm in the night and work till 6. Then wake up again every day 11 and start over again. So I started living this dual life: studying really hard on one side and then having a lot of fun and doing some serious adventure stuff with LAS.
I learned it the hard way that if you try to learn the course rather than get the grade then your hard work will always pay off sooner or later.
However the things that I did achieve out of all of this:
1. Saw 5 of the worlds 14 mountains above 8000 m.
2. Went to the K2 basecamp and crossed Gondogoro La in summer 2012. It is acclaimed to be the highest mountain pass of the world at aroun 5700m and saw the sun rise at dawn on its summit and the rays hit the peaks of K2, G1, G2 and Broad peak one by one (all above 8000 m).
3. My SPROJ was on detecting cosmic rays (particles which are basically made in fusion reactions of star cores) and it was a lot of fun.
4. I took a winter survival course as a LAS member.
4. I went on all the 5 MayTrips in my 5 years at LUMS. Having some older LAS connections (my brother was an ex-LASser) I played an important part in reviving some old maytrips: patundas, haramosh, pakora pass, Batura.
5. I have nearly seen all of Northern Areas of Pakistan except Chitral.
6. Became a better and more disciplined physicist and had some amazing memories with my LAS comrades.
My hardwork in all of my physics courses finally paid off and now I am currently working on a neutrino detection experiment at the South Pole and I might probably get to go there as a part of my Phd research. And also I am having a lot of fun studying astrophysics and particle physics which I actually wanted to do!