Astrophysics research

Our understanding of the universe is undergoing a paradigm shift with the detection of gravitaitonal waves in 2015, exactly hundred years after Einstein first predicted it. These waves are 4D ripples on the spacetime fabric and allow us to probe parts of universe that no telescope on earth has seen before.

My research is rooted among all parts of the machinery that allows us to do astronomy with these gravitational waves. As a numerical relativist, I solve Einstein's Equations on some of world's fastest supercomputers, which allows me to quantify the extreme gravity physics when two black holes collide (see image). Being a scientist working on the LIGO experiment, which detected the first gravitational waves, I design search techniques that allows me to find such colliding black holes in the universe. Based on the results from my searches, I provide constraints on the astrophysical population of black holes in our cosmos.  My PhD thesis provided a framework for such end-to-end investigation in gravitational wave astronomy.  

Just as more number of cell phone towers reduces call drops in a city, more LIGO-like detectors on earth help us identify phenomenon in cosmos to which we are currently blind, such as intermediate mass black holes formed from the very first generation of stars. In particular I am very much excited for the LIGO detector being built in India (by ~2020) and prospects of future space detectors like LISA (by 2034). 

Learn more about my work on numerical relativity, gravitational wave astronomy, LIGO and future detectors through scientific publications, popular science articles and video lectures

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Education Policy Work

I actively engage and advise various institutes and forums for reforming education policies.  Currently, I serve on the advisory committee of the Government of Gujarat (India) on their ambitious Student Startup Innovation Policy ($60M budget) and gave a plenary at International Conclave for Higher Education on "Building Institutions of Higher Education for Innovation".

For last few years, I have been volunteering in K-12 schools in my hometown to redefine their science, mathematics and computer education. I also lead a team principals and teachers to devise a central policy where academic and administrative duties of schools can be handled by teachers. This was a step towards my long standing belief of making K-12 schools in India independent of management and government policy swings.      

As a Vice-President of the Student Body of Georgia Institute of Technology for two consecutive terms, I served on institute-wide committees on budget, was appointed by Office of Provosts to redefine allocation of mandatory fees ($6M budget) and served as director of campus-wide student election. A detailed list of leadership roles I held at Georgia Tech can be found here

If you wish to collaborate on ideas, technologies and policies that can change the current scenario of education then please do reach out!

 

National Security research

Named after the legendary United States Senator Sam Nunn, I held a fellowship funded by the MacArthur Foundation at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy (USA) to study the interface of science and technology with national security policies. 

In particular, I am interested how space diplomacy and big data science impacts national security goals.  Among these, I’ve conducted two independent research projects. One to explore the limitations of international cooperation in widening scope of space-science programs. The two case studies I reviewed were Indian Space Research Organization and the International Space Station.  The second ongoing study is to exploit the promises of big data science in serving intelligence community. In a chapter to be publishes in a special edition of Springer, I raise various technical and ethical points that counter limits the influence of big data in anticipating surprises. 

As a next step, I want to probe if space-science diplomacy can help strengthen relations between nations, and listing criteria on which a nation can frame policy on big data. I am interested to collaborate with government agencies and think tanks to explore both these topics.

 

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