Focus on: Deepa Thomas
Deepa is a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She is doing analysis on heavy flavour in the decay channel of electrons. This is a continuation of the work she did as a PhD student at the Utrecht University in the Netherlands after she joined ALICE.
Studying physics was not a hard decision for her, since she always liked science and knew that she wanted to pursue it. “In the beginning of my Bachelor I didn't know what exactly I was going to do after graduating. I liked teaching, but during my course work I met a few professors who really inspired me to do research. I was not sure if I was going to be good at it, but they really made me believe in myself. Then, in the course of my studies, I did several projects and I found out that it was actually quite interesting. That is what drove me into doing my PhD.”
Deepa also had a teaching experience. Last year, her postdoc supervisor who teaches heavy-ion physics to graduate students, proposed her to take the part of her course work which is about heavy flavour and jets. “That was something I really enjoyed. What I like most about teaching is the interaction with the students.”
Starting from June 2015, Deepa is also one of the tree ALICE Juniors representatives with a two-year mandate. “We are a great team and we work very well together. We are trying to bring up different issues and to work together with the Collaboration to resolve them. The problems that the young ALICE people face are much different than those of the senior members. One of the things that I want to achieve is to create awareness and an educative process about diversity – gender, national and cultural diversity. We need to be open about these issues and to fight against our biases, especially because it can affect our decision-making. Education is the first step towards that.”
In her free time she enjoys hiking, travelling and cooking. “I really like Anthony Bourdain's philosophy of experiencing cultures through food. You can get a lot of information about the place's history and how it was influenced by other cultures just by eating the local food.”
Born and raised in India, so far Deepa has had the chance to live in three different continents. “There is no favourite place for me, I like each country for different reasons. I learned a lot from the different cultural experiences, from the way people think. The Indian, the European and the American way of living are different. In the end you learn to appreciate the differences and to not make judgements, because what is right for one community might be wrong for the other.”