An expedition into the world of sub-atomic particles: Meet Charanjit Kaur Khosa

My academic journey has started with a desire to find my path and, after one point, it has been driven by the curiosity to know more about the fundamental questions related to the existence of the universe. 

I grew up in a village in India where every aspect of life revolves around agriculture.  Only professionals I have seen until the end of my schooling were my teachers. I used to get fascinated by knowledge of my teachers and also by their lifestyle. Being very interested and good in mathematics and also being able to do well in other subjects helped me to build confidence and a belief that I can dream about pursuing anything in life. In hindsight, it feels it was inner belief which led me to cross the boundaries of my comfort zone. By the time I was 10 years old, I used to imagine myself going for higher education, though back then I did not know about possible options. Without any exposure, I thought of taking one step at a time. After school, I decided to study physics and mathematics, a decision which was purely an elimination process. Afterwards also, up to some point, choosing physics has been an elimination process. It was only while doing my master thesis project in particle physics; I realised how much I enjoy this subject and how much I am fascinated by the ongoing research in that area. After that, my journey had been driven purely by curiosity to understand unsolved puzzles in Particle Physics. So I pursued a Ph.D. in theoretical high energy physics. As a Ph.D. student at Panjab University, Chandigarh, India, I worked on the particular model, which is one of the attractive candidate theories for physics beyond the standard model. I did theoretical calculations to incorporate the effect of heavy additional particles predicted in that model on the processes involving fundamental particles. During my Ph.D. period, the particle physics community witnessed the discovery of the Higgs boson. Though this was the biggest discovery in the field, it was not the end of the story. The joy and excitement in the field made me gear up for my work on the intersection of theory and experimental physics, where one would confront the predictions of complex mathematical models with experimental data. This is the path which I am following now. It also involves building strategies to find unknown particles in the big chunks of the data created by the particle collisions. Come to my talk to know more about it. 

In terms of what it required to be at this stage of my career; it required persistence, continuous alignment of goals, being realistic, and acceptance of reality. It involved quick moves to different geographical locations as well. So far, it has been a beautiful journey of being amazed by nature and the joy of making tiny contributions to something grand. I look forward to following this path and sharing more experiences in the future.

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