Monday, February 29, 2016

Physics professor making strides in mentoring and research

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) physics professor, Bidhan C. Saha, Ph.D., continues to raise the bar as both a researcher and educator.

In addition to being nominated to serve as vice chair of the South Eastern Section of the American Physical Society, Saha was recently awarded FAMU’s first Faculty Excellence Award in Graduate Mentoring for his work with Ph.D. student Edwin E. Quashie.

According to Saha, who currently serves as director of the university’s physics graduate program, problem solving and training the next generation of critical thinkers are two of his biggest passions. He said the need for great minds in physics is imperative because understanding physics is paramount to understanding how the world works.

“It’s what keeps me awake at night,” Saha said. “Physics is a challenge. We are seeing how things happen, and in order to explain those things you need to go to physics because it is the combination of all sciences—math, chemistry, everything—it makes me crazy, but I love it.”

Seeing students develop the same passion for problem-solving and understanding physics is something Saha said is a major reward of teaching. Saha added that he is diligent in his efforts to ensure that each student leaves his class with understanding.

“Each student is different,” Saha said. “They all learn differently, and have different understanding, but as a professor what you want is to get them all to a point where you can throw them in the ocean and they can survive because you’ve taught them how to swim. We need to make them ready to face the ocean of their futures.”

Quashie said Saha’s mentoring as both a professor and Ph.D. adviser has been invaluable. He credits Saha for pioneering his 2013 internship at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif.

“Dr. Saha is a wonderful professor,” Quashie said. “He is incredibly approachable and does an awesome job in making difficult concepts easily understandable. I have taken two courses that he has instructed, and they were easily the best courses I’ve taken at FAMU.”

Saha and Quashie have recently submitted a paper entitled, “Electronic Band Structure Non-linear Effects in the Stopping of Protons in Copper,” to the world’s premier physical journal, Physical Review Letters.

Saha has more than 100 referred publications in high-impact journals, and he continues to conduct extensive research collaborations with both U.S. National Labs and foreign universities. Saha said he prioritizes his research because his discoveries will live on after he is gone.

“We must keep doing research,” Saha said. “When we leave this earth, others will have to test our theories and make new discoveries based on our old findings. It’s important that we leave something behind that is helpful for the next person.”

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