Meet the ESRs: Rahul Balasubramanian

Duck’s-eye view of the city of Amsterdam from the Amstel river. The city has more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of canals which divides it into about 90 islands, which are linked by more than 1,200 bridges.

Hi, I’m Rahul from Chennai, India and I work at Nikhef in Amsterdam for the ATLAS experiment with Wouter Verkerke and Pamela Ferrari who have given me the opportunity to join the INSIGHTS program . I would like to use this post to describe I got the chance to be part of this network.

IIT Madras is spread over 620 acres and a large chunk of it is a protected forest. Running into spotted deers, black bucks, and other wildlife is a daily encounter and provides a unique experience whilst living on campus.

Rewinding back to the summer of 2012 when the discovery of the Higgs Boson was announced to the world, I vividly remember taking the first steps towards my undergrad institute in India. I was immediately attracted to the Engineering Physics program at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and it was a fascinating amalgam of physics and electrical engineering. I was able to obtain a good foundation in these two fields thanks to excellent and challenging courses offered by the two departments. From learning how fundamental spin-1/2 particles were described by the Dirac equation- to understanding how transistors are used to design analog and digital circuits –I had been exposed to more than I could ask for !

Bird’s-eye view of the French Riviera. The region is rich in natural and cultural diversity.

My first project in physics was in the summer of my pre-final year of undergrad where I worked in Laboratoire Cote d’Azur in Nice on a project to measure the temperature gradient in the solar photosphere. My enthusiasm for physics grew by leaps and bounds after this and I pursued a couple of other projects in solar physics including my bachelor’s thesis where we built radio telescopes using off-the-shelf components to study solar radio-emissions.

The CERN summer student program offers a great opportunity to work at CERN and meet people from all around the world.


I had my first particle physics course in my final year and I found it exciting that we can answer fundamental questions about our universe using physics and state-of-the art technology. I had the privilege of being chosen as a CERN summer student to work with the LHCb experiment. I was energised by the environment at CERN, where I was able to meet people from all around the world working together on a common scientific pursuit.

I learned a lot about particle physics during my masters at University Paris-Saclay. The university is associated with large number of research laboratories in the region, giving access to a lot of researchers in the field. This not only benifits our learning experience but also provides the opportunity to work with during summer internships. I had the chance to work on experimental analysis project for the ALICE experiment in the first year and in a theoretical project on heavy-strange meson in lattice QCD in the second year.

I learnt a lot about physics and research from my mentors and the INSIGHTS project gives me the oppurtunity to continue this journey. It has been a busy first year and I hope I can be more active on the blog front in the future. Thanks !


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