Multiple opportunities for research under expert guidance
Physics students are known for their agile, curious minds, and it’s pretty apparent that Shrestha relishes research — he completed two projects as a summer scholar, a directed study, and a senior research project, “Photoionization of Barium and Lanthanum in an ion trap,” under the direction of Associate Professor of Physics Steven Olmschenk.
But that wasn’t quite enough to slake his appetite. He also completed an independent study on quantum information theory and a directed study on how to give planetarium shows. Persistence and careful analysis are the keys to a good researcher, says Olmschenk. “Rahul is currently working with me on a senior research project, which is focused on photoionization loading of the ion trap. As in all his previous research in my lab, his engagement with the project is at the highest level. He is carefully analyzing the ablation production of ions and neutral atoms to ascertain the effect of the photoionization light. He is a fantastic researcher.”
Shrestha has been enthusiastic about being a scientist since he was a child. But with all this experience under his belt, his perspective has changed about what that means.
“The mini objectives and side projects that lead to a better understanding of the experiment, and the endless troubleshooting of problems, which feels like playing a game of whack-a-mole, help us inch our way towards the eventual goal,” he says. “I have come to appreciate the explorative part of research and learned to take pride in my understanding of the experiment. ”
Building management and technicals skills through an on-campus internship
Taking on Denison’s yearbook gave Shrestha an opportunity to exercise a different set of creative chops. He signed on board with the staff his first year and now leads the entire project, which involves managing other students and building his own skills in software like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign.
He also learned a life lesson about the importance of asking for help. “I am one of those who always wants to do everything by themselves, and I know that’s not how being a leader works. I had to pick between giving up on it and getting out of my comfort zone.”
Groups like this are a great way for students to find friends and peer mentors. Shrestha met then-senior physics major Patrick Banner ’18 on the yearbook staff. “He has been, to this day, a source of constant support for me, from writing a summer research proposal to applying to graduate schools,” says Shrestha, who also became close to yearbook advisor Jamie Hale in the University Communications office. “Over the years, he has turned into a friend.”
Taking the lead by leading a class
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