Reaching for the Stars
From getting accepted to the prestigious World Science Scholar programme to researching with senior scientists in the US, Dubai teen, Aman Burman shares his success story with GN Focus
How did your passion for physics originate?
I developed an interest in physics and the sciences at a very young age. I first got a taste of astronomy and the cosmos when I was selected to participate in the CTD (Center for Talent Development) programme at Northwestern University at the age of nine. I attended the Life on Mars course, which introduced me to planetary science. In 2016, I attended Johns Hopkins University’s CTY programme where I learned exciting mathematics topics such as Euler’s formulas, Pascal’s triangle, and more. I was fascinated by what mathematics and the sciences have to offer for the development of humanity.
Additionally, the transition to Dubai definitely factored into my interest in the subject. The transformation of Dubai to be one of the leading cities fostering creativity and science over the last decade played a critical role in developing my scientific mindset. I was fortunate to have mentors at school who inspired me to be inquisitive and to research more about the subject in my own time.
Could you elaborate on the research work you have done and are pursuing now?
Last year I was selected to the prestigious World Science Scholars program. Only 40 exceptionally talented science and mathematical minds were selected for the two-year program and I was the only student selected from the Middle East. As part of WSS, I have been fortunate enough to conduct cutting-edge research on subjects ranging from astrophysics to biology with leading scientists and professors teaching at the top institutions in the world. A field in physics I am very interested in is cosmology which deals with the origin and development of the universe. I have published an article on Fates Of The Universe in a journal about a year back.
Currently, I am working extensively on the habitability of planetary bodies. I am incredibly lucky to be able to work under the supervision of a leading scientist at a top US university. Apart from that, I am performing data analysis on isotopic measurements of Calcium-Aluminium inclusions to analyse the origin of the universe and also using specific libraries to develop tools for gravitational wave detection. I would like to explore more and further my research in these areas in the next few years while I am at university. Finally, apart from physics, I am also working on a research project on Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing where I am building a text summarisation system.
How have you generally spent your last few summers fostering your interests in STEM?
I believe that summer is the best time to further my passion for physics, mathematics, and computer science by pursuing projects without the stress of school exams and homework. I was thrilled to be accepted to the Wolfram Summer School, which was intended for undergraduate and graduate students, making me the youngest of 60 students who participated in the programme this summer.
During the programme, I discussed my project 1:1 with Dr Stephen Wolfram and attended lectures by him and other researchers on Topology, Geometry, and Analysis of Computable Spaces, Neural Networks, Multi Computational Paradigm, and many other exciting topics. I researched about the stability of a Star-Planet-Moon three-body system. The goal of the project was to analyse the three-body problem of various star-planet-moon configurations to explore the stability and chaos in these systems.
To help me with the analysis, I created a visualiser that allowed me to alter the initial conditions of the three bodies. Additionally, this summer I am participating in a course titled Planets, Moons and Their Stars: The Search for Life in the Cosmos, as part of Harvard’s Summer Science Program to gain more knowledge about habitability. Last summer I decided to attend the Math 51 course, which was part of Stanford University’s Summer Program. Math 51 covers concepts in Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calculus, matrix algebra, Markov chain, and eigenvalues, which are essential in understanding astrophysics further.
In the summer of 2020/2021, I pursued an internship with Class Card Inc redesigning the front-end interface of their flagship product using Laravel, a PHP framework. In 2019, I interned at the Indian Statistical Institute where I pursued a project on Graph theory and Dijkstra’s shortest path algorithm. Through these research and internships, I developed my breadth of knowledge on physics, mathematics, and computer science deeper.
Apart from academics, what are some other outreach activities you are taking part in?
Over the long term, I wish to address the problem of a lack of education for underprivileged children. I strongly believe that every child has the right to education regardless of their social and economic status. Education opens up a world of opportunities for the underprivileged and provides a chance to end the poverty cycle. I founded prepsaurus.com which is an online platform providing course content at affordable prices. Prepsaurus provides a variety of courses such as Python for Beginners, Scratch, MIT App Inventor, mathematics, and science courses. Young scientists can also research and publish their own articles on the website.
As a means of outreach, I am working with an NGO based in Kolkata to deliver programs and track the progress of 1,000+ students in the first year with a future capacity to cater to 5,000 students. As a RISE Global Challenge finalist (an initiative of the Schmidt Foundation founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt), I hope to scale this platform and reach out to students based in African countries, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other developing nations. RISE has also provided me with numerous opportunities to make an impact on the world.
Through RISE I have been able to learn more about the MIT centre for system awareness and become an EnRoads ambassador for climate action initiatives. I have also had the opportunity to develop my leadership and entrepreneurship skills by learning from professors at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
What are your future plans?
I am extremely excited to continue my research on astrophysics and computer science with some of the leading scientists who are at the forefront of astrophysics, cosmology, and computer science. I aim to complete my undergraduate education in physics from a top-tier university, and pursue a PhD in astrophysics afterwards. I want to devote my career to developing a better understanding of the universe that we live in.
The transformation of Dubai as a leading city in fostering creativity and science played a critical role in developing my scientific mindset.”