From Oswego to Delhi

Oswego State physics professor Shashi Kanbur is spearheading a collaboration with the University of Delhi. (Photo provided by Public Afffairs)
Oswego State physics professor Shashi Kanbur is spearheading a collaboration with the University of Delhi. (Photo provided by Public Afffairs)

It is a rare occurrence when someone is given the opportunity to follow through on a dream they had since they were young. Oswego State physics professor, Shashi Kanbur, not only gets to do what he loves, but now has the opportunity to expand on his work in a way he’s always wanted.

Kanbur plans to travel to Delhi to increase research in astrophysics and the evolution of stars. The research is not just for him; he plans to develop a relationship between Delhi and Oswego State’s Global Laboratory program to allow students to travel to Delhi and take part in the research as well.

This trip is not only a great academic achievement for Kanbur, but a personal one as well. With an office full of physics books and a chalkboard covered with formulas, Kanbur is living a childhood dream.

“I was always interested in physics and astrophysics since I was six years old; there has never been anything else I really wanted to do,” Kanbur said.

Kanbur has the opportunity to expand his teaching and research, due to family ties previously established in Delhi.

“My mother used to work there, my aunt used to work there,” Kanbur said. “When I was small I remember going to my mother’s lectures, which she gave at the University of Delhi, and she would keep me outside the classroom. We had very strong family ties to Delhi and the University of Delhi. So I was approached by members of the physics department there to collaborate on this project and I jumped on that chance.”

Kanbur has a wide range of goals he would like to accomplish during his time in Kanbur. There are a number of research related topics he wants to look into, as well as expanding research opportunities for students.

According to Kanbur, the biggest areas of research he will be looking into are developing an automated classification system for classifying variable star light curves using principle component analysis, analyzing new data sets, looking at the data coming from a telescope in Antarctica and analyzing new data taken from observations made in Chile over the last three years. These are all major research topics, but, to Kanbur, helping to develop new opportunities for students is his biggest goal.

“I want to establish our students going there [Delhi] to do research, through externally funded agencies,” Kanbur said. “I want to develop a common course, between the department of physics and astrophysics there and our department here.”

If he can successfully create a mechanism for students to go to Delhi, Oswego State’s Global Laboratory program will be a major contributor to making that happen. According to Kanbur, it is a program where Oswego State sends its students abroad to major research institutions around the world, to undertake cutting edge scientific research. It is not a study abroad program, although students could take part in it for credits. Most students tend to do it for the experience of working on a research project, Kanbur said.

According to Oswego State’s website, Global Laboratory sites have already been established in Brazil, Congo, Costa Rica, Republic of Korea, Taiwan, India and more.

There is still a long road ahead for Kanbur to get this program underway, but he had already been working on his research before this opportunity arose.

“We have already been working on some things, it is basically developing some new statistical techniques to the analysis of variable star light curves,” Kanbur said. “I have a project with some people at the University of Geneva doing this, and now at the Univeristy of Delhi. We have collaborators in the U.S. too.”

Set times and dates have not been made for when Kanbur will make the trip to Delhi, but according to him, it will not be a single trip. The grant period will be about two years, with the visits being about a month long during the summer or on Christmas vacation. He expects to leave this summer. One big question for Kanbur is the size budget he will receive.

A grant from the American Physical Society, for up to $4,000, has already been determined and will field one of Kanbur’s trips to Delhi. Since he plans to make multiple trips, there is another grant in the works to fund those trips from the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, according to Kanbur.

Kanbur jumped on his first opportunity seven years ago when he was hired as a physics professor at Oswego State. Now 2013 will mark his next biggest achievement, as he ventures to Delhi to not only expand his work, but allow students that share the same passion to take part in a great opportunity.