" চিত্ত যেথা ভয়শূন্য, উচ্চ যেথা শির
জ্ঞান যেথা মুক্ত, যেথা গৃহের প্রাচীর,
আপন প্রাঙ্গণতলে দিবসশর্বরী "
-- রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর
This is a verse from Rabindranath Tagore's
"Where the mind
is without fear".
Read an English Translation here
I do not believe that the science that I do is either
decoupled or should be decoupled from larger social,
political, and economic issues around me. Throughout my career, I have created / worked
for organizations that have laboured towards a better, equitable and fairer ecosystem
in physics & astronomy specifically, and broader
academia, in general.
You can use the buttons below to explore various initiatives that I
have started or been involved in.
Yale Astronomy Student Council
After coming to Yale Astronomy, I realized that although many graduate students
had ideas and inspiration to improve our graduate program and the department
in general, there was lack of a collective organization to do so.
In order to address this, I founded the Astronomy Student Council (ASC) in 2018, joined by
three other inaugural members, and led it till the summer of 2022. We established ASC
an elected body with terms of one year for all members. See the ASC Charter in order to know more about our goals and elections. During
my years in leadership, the ASC worked on and led a variety of projects to improve our
graduate program and to make the department more accessible and welcoming to students
from a variety of backgrounds. I mention a few highlights below:-
- PGRE:Given that the Physics-GRE(PGRE) isn't necessarily a predictor of academic prowess and
acted as a barrier for many URM, international students, we wanted to remove it from being
required in Yale Astronomy admissions. We organized departmental discussions on this topic,
wrote and presented a report at faculty meetings demonstrating why the PGRE acts as a barrier
for applying to Yale, and kept working with departmental leadership on this topic for close to
a year. Yale Astronomy has since made the PGRE optional since 2019.
- Graduate Admissions:Before the ASC was founded, the Yale Astronomy graduate program
did not do interviews or involve current students in the admissions process. Partnering with
the Yale Climate and Diversity Committee, we worked with
departmental leadership to make the graduate admissions process more fair, transparent and equitable.
These included introducing interviews for shortlisted students, introducing uniform question sets
for all interviewees and designing uniform rubrics for evaluation during interviews
to minimize implicit bias. We also successfully advocated for and facilitated the participation
of senior graduate students in the interview and selection process.
- Anti-Discrimination Procedures: Since Yale lacked (and still does!) a Title VI office,
there was no clear procedures and policies in how to deal with non-Title IX complaints from students
(such as racial harassment, academic bullying etc.) We worked with departmental leadership
to lay down the procedures and codify who was responsible for responding in such scenarios.
I also designed this poster to summarize all this information!
- Climate & Program Survey: We designed and administered an extensive survey to assess departmental
climate and satisfaction with different elements of the graduate program. Based on student feedback,
we compiled an extensive report of these issues and a list of actionable items to improve the graduate
program, to improve the climate of Yale Astronomy and make it more inclusive. If you are a Yale
affiliate, you will be able to access the report and recommendations here:-
Link 1 | Link 2
. Many of these recommendations, have now been implemented over time.
- Advising Guidelines: The Yale Astronomy graduate program had many segments
with "best-practices" or "unwritten rules". These often led to varying outcomes for
different students in the same situation. We advocated for a long time to have the entire
program procedures and rules written down; along with outlining specific responsibilities
for an advisor and advisee post-candidacy & procedures for conflict mediation. The
ASC worked with a committee of faculty members to establish the advising guidelines in 2021.
You can access it here.
Yale Graduate Student Assembly
The Graduate Student Assembly is an elected body of Yale students in the Graduate School
of Arts and Sciences. The Assembly's goals are to identify the needs and concerns
of graduate students, consider possible solutions, and present these to the
Dean and other administrators. I was the Astronomy Department Representative (2018-'21)
and a member of the Steering Committee. At the GSA, I have focused primarily on improving Diversity,
Equity & Inclusion efforts, addressing a variety of international student issues,
and improving graduate student access to mental healthcare and housing. A few highlights are
- Mental Healthcare: Yale is self-insured and thus, restricts its students primarily
to its own student health center (against a broader network). This resulted in extremely long
wait times for students wanting to access mental healthcare resources. We successfully advocated
for and obtained coverage through an external provider (Magellan), opening up access to hundreds
of more providers for graduate students. I also designed these resource
poster (Poster 1
| Poster 2) outlining how to access this gamut of new resources.
- Inclusive Yale:I was involved in collecting feedback and responses from various departments
in the Natural Sciences as part of the designing of the
Belonging at Yale -- a slew of long term initiatives and efforts to make Yale
- International Students: I worked on a variety of efforts to improve the lives of international
students at Yale. However, the highlight was leading and facilitating the the GSA's filing of an
amicus brief against ICE in the Harvard-MIT suit brought in 2020 against the Trump Administration's
exclusionary (educational) immigration policies.
Yale Community Fellow
I have been working as a Community Fellow at Yale since 2019. As a Community Fellow (specifically assigned
to 254 Prospect), I work to create an engaging and respectful environment that enhances the experience
of graduate students living in Yale Housing properties. This is achieved primarily by organizing
various social events and community meetings/town halls.
Differential Police Response: During my time as community fellow, I also participated in designing
Yale Police Department's (YPD's) differential response policy, which came into force in 2021. Under this policy, the
YPD automatically assigns more appropriate resources (instead of a police team) to a non-life threatening and
non-criminal 911 calls. (e.g. community leaders responding to noise complaints instead of the police, mental
healthcare providers responding to a person appearing to act strange.)
Meyerhoff & Granville Scholars Programs
During my time at Yale, I was involved in two specific summer research programs, which
aimed at training a more diverse and socially aware next generation of scientists.
Meyerhoff Scholars' Program: I have mentored and supervised three highly talented
undergraduate students from UMBC in the Urry Lab during the summers since 2018 as
part of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. Responsibilities included an initial one-week
period of teaching followed by twice-a-week personal meetings to support them and oversee
their progress. The Meyerhoff Scholars Program
is at the forefront of efforts to increase
diversity among future leaders in science, technology, engineering and related fields.
Granville Academy: I have taught incoming Yale Astronomy & Astrophysics summer
students as part of the two-week Granville Academy in 2018 and 2019. The program is named in honor
of Evelyn Boyd Granville, who obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale in 1949 and was the
second African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics in the United States. Granville's
long career in research and teaching, including work in celestial mechanics digital computer techniques
for the Apollo program, was recognized in 2000 with the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association's highest honor,
the Wilbur Lucius Cross medal.
All students who perform research in astronomy at Yale over the summer are typically a part of the academy.
The curriculum encompasses astronomical tools, social activism, and diversity in STEM.
( e.g., Statistics of Under-Representation, Equity in the Classroom, Implicit Bias,
Introduction to Astronomical coding, How to analyze data, etc.)
Presidency University Physics League
During my undergraduate studies at Presidency University, Kolkata; there was a lack of
a collective student body that work towards improving the program at Presidency. To address this,
I co-founded the Presidency University Physics League (PUPL) in 2013. We worked primarily towards improving
our undergraduate program by leading the organization of journal clubs, lecture series, and academic
field trips to various Indian research centers. I led the League till the end of my time at Presidency.
During my time at PUPL, I also led the organization of the inaugural International Presidency University
Academic Festival in 2014. Over a period of a week, we hosted a series of popular-public talks by stalwarts in
sciences, arts, humanities, and public policy.