Critique of My SOP

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Joined: Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:57 pm

Critique of My SOP

Post by Deviant » Tue Dec 20, 2016 4:46 pm

I missed a couple of deadlines and mow in a hurry to complete the application process. It would be quite nice if somebody takes a look at my SOP and suggest some improvement. Thanks in advance.

Statement of Purpose

Pursuing a career in Physics academia isn’t the most typical career path for an electrical and electronic engineer. However, my undying passion for learning about the universe, my undergraduate thesis on Black Hole Information Paradox and my ongoing M.S. in theoretical physics have instilled in me the audacity for pursuing my graduate studies in high energy physics, cosmology and classical/quantum gravity. As the physics department of the Pennsylvania State University is one of the major contributors in research in my desired field, I felt obliged to apply to the Graduate Program.

Although I got exposure to topics in classical and modern physics from my S.S.C. (equivalent to O-level) and H.S.C. (equivalent to A-level) curriculum, the opportunity for learning beyond the national curriculum was pretty limited. However, the limited curriculum raised enough interest in me to consider physics for my undergraduate studies. But the invisible hand of the third world economy played its job security card and I had to choose Electrical and Electronic Engineering for my undergraduate degree. I stood third in the admission test of BUET (Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology) among 6000 students, which is sort of the ‘Hunger Games’ of undergraduate admission. I first got the opportunity of studying physics independently after entering BUET and then got mentored by Prof. Mahbub Majumdar who sort of supervised a group of renegade EEE students in their independent research. The unhappiness with the EEE curriculum and the fascination of doing independent research contributed to my not-so-stellar CGPA of 3.67 in undergraduate.
As I was continuing my independent study of theoretical physics topics like: quantum mechanics, relativity (special and general theory), group theory, electromagnetism and quantum information theory, Prof. Mahbub Majumdar introduced me and my group to Black Hole Information Paradox (BHIP). What interested us was the feasibility study of using small correction to make the Hawking radiation spectrum non-thermal. We generalized Mathur’s bound on the increase of entanglement entropy by relaxing the ‘small correction’ condition on the Hawking state. We derived the condition of upper and lower bound on the change of entanglement entropy at each time step of Hawking pair production. The inequality clearly demonstrated the failure of small-correction approach in retrieving information. The findings from this research led to a conference publication on ICECE, 2012 titled “A Novel Parametric Bound for Information Retrieval from Black Hole Radiation” and an arXiv Preprint arXiv:1312.2176 [hep-th]. Our next endeavor was to focus on the contradictions involved in the black hole information erasure model suggested in Mod. Phys. Lett. A 25, 1581 (2010). It was explicitly demonstrated that this model contradicts the known laws of physics. This research led to a journal publication: Alvi, Mishkat Al, et al. "Comments on information erasure in black hole" Modern Physics Letters A 29.38 (2014): 1450199. [arXiv:1311.0511 [hep-th]]. The review of BHIP and abovementioned original research were done as a part of our undergraduate thesis supervised by Prof. M.A. Matin (deceased) and unofficially mentored by Prof. Mahbub Majumdar.

After completing my undergraduate studies, I joined Green University of Bangladesh (GUB) as a lecturer of department of EEE and got admitted into M.S. Program at Department of Theoretical Physics, University of Dhaka. There I studied graduate level courses in Quantum Field Theory, Standard Model, Condensed Matter Theory, Equilibrium Statistical Mechanics I and II and Quantum Mechanics. I got interested in beyond the standard model physics and under the supervision of Prof. Arshad Momen, I enquired about a non-Wilsonian UV-completion approach, dubbed classicalization in my thesis. In classicalization, certain classes of UV-incomplete theories unitarize themselves in high-energy scattering by creating classical objects. We have examined the Gia et al.’s proposal that certain classes of derivatively coupled scalars are eligible candidates for classicalization whether the φ4 theory is not. The 2 to N scattering amplitude, scattering cross-section and amplitude for classical structure formation have been calculated and compared for both theories and from the comparison it has been found that the derivatively coupled theory is actually less suitable for classical structure formation than φ4 theory. The findings have been documented in the thesis and the subsequent publication of the result is under process. I also reproduced the simulation of a quantum mechanical toy model [Rizos, J. et al. JHEP 2012.8 (2012): 1-22] to study classicalization, in Mathematica. The thesis defense and the publication of M.S. result will occur within the first-half of 2017, hopefully. A recalculation of the relevant quantities using “Functional Schrodinger’s Equation Method” has also been planned to make sure that our result isn’t dependent on the specifics of the particular method used.

As an academic researcher, I would like to learn and work on advanced aspects of high-energy and beyond standard model physics, classical and quantum gravity, cosmology. The various aspects of the very early universe cosmology, the entanglement entropy of black holes and its subsequent influence on BHIP, the quantum spacetime, the beyond standard model aspects of QFT have given me the impression of being the source of exciting new physics. The ‘Gravitational Physics & Cosmology’ group and the ‘Particles and Fields’ group have been particularly motivating for me in deciding to apply to Penn State University. Prof. Eugenio Bianchi’s work on entanglement entropy production [arXiv:1409.0144 [hep-th]] and loop expansion of LQG [arXiv:1609.02219[gr-qc]] has appeared particularly motivating to me. With my previous experience of working in BHIP and beyond standard model physics, I think would be able to contribute significantly in the search for a quantum theory of gravity. Prof. Martin Bojowald’s work on inflation and quantum gravity and Prof. Murat Günaydin’s work on super strings and super gravity theories are also quite appealing. As the search for a consistent picture of quantum gravity is still at the forefront of research, a radical look at the different ideas and methodology and the necessity of bridging new ideas with the experimentally verified existing theories remain important than ever.

As someone who has background in both physics and engineering and who has worked as an educator and administrator (I served as the Assistant Director of Student Affairs in GUB) I think my unique background will be an asset in research and teaching. In conducting my courses as a lecturer, I found immense satisfaction in helping students grasp the logical concept of C programming, Electromagnetic theory, Digital Logic Design, RF and Microwave Engineering (both theory and experiment). My experience of both classroom and laboratory teaching and the habit of conducting independent research have given me the confidence to work as either a teaching or research assistant. I, an avid reader of politics and social policy, do think that science outreach is necessary for flourishing the academia as well as society. In an age where anti-intellectualism is rampant, I personally believe that researchers do have a social responsibility in building and sustaining an informed democracy. I worked voluntarily as a question setter in Bangladesh Physics Olympiad and served as sort of a mentor for junior students of my department (BUET, EEE) in studying physics independently. As a person who has been benefited personally from this kind of mentorship, and as a faculty who has supervised two groups for undergraduate thesis, it is my utmost desire to expand my mentoring and outreach activities besides my academic research.

Despite all the financial hardships, full-time jobs and career uncertainties, I never gave up on my aspirations of becoming a theoretical physicist. As the physics department of Penn State University is the one with the mission of teaching, research and service, I truly believe that Penn State is the ideal place for me to fulfill my ambition of being a passionate researcher, an engaging teacher and a selfless community service provider.

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