'The interesting connections between my classes were exhilarating to discover'

Gauri Batra

Physics
New Delhi, India

What was your favorite class and why?

I'm not sure if I can point out one favorite class, but I do have favorite parts of various classes. I loved that I could think deeply about the questions on my problem sets in my physics classes, without any hurry. I loved how open the instructors and students were to new and weird ideas in my creative writing classes. I loved how at times there were interesting connections between various classes I was taking that weren't obvious, but exhilarating to discover. Or if there were not, I loved trying to look for connections (sometimes between classes as different as creative writing and quantum field theory).

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

person on top of a mountain

There isn't one particular memory, but many, all of which share the common theme of involving people here who I love. One that stands out is when during the summer of the pandemic, a friend and I drove to the Finger Lakes National Forest at night to spot comet NEOWISE. It was a clear night, with the stars glimmering in the sky and fireflies glimmering in the trees. It was a beautiful sight and I couldn't decide what to look at! (We couldn't spot the comet though.)

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

A lot of my time at Cornell was spent participating in research. There isn't one accomplishment that I'm most proud of, and I'm not really someone who feels proud of things. But there are many events that made me really happy during my time participating in research. For example, I published a first-author paper with my Caltech mentors on the dynamics of stellar streams near black holes. I found myself in the middle of the field of string theory and cosmology and enjoyed the process of making sense of it from that perspective, without all the background knowledge. Most importantly, the time I spent with my mentors and others in my research groups stood out, and made every second of research exciting. 

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What are your plans for next year?

I will be attending Stanford to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. I plan to study aspects of quantum gravity. An idea that I find exhilarating is that of holography, which suggests that a theory of quantum gravity is equivalent to another theory that lives on the boundary of spacetime.

 

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2022.

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