“HAIreconnect is an excellent opportunity for researchers in developing countries”
Dr. Fazeel Mahmood Khan, Assistant Professor Space Science at Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad/Pakistan
PhD in Physics and Astronomy from University of Heidelberg during 2008 till 2012
Why did you decide in favor of the Ruperto Carola?
When I was searching for PhD positions in different universities around the world after completing my Masters in physics, I came to know from a senior colleague from Government College University Lahore where I was serving as a lecturer about the strength of Heidelberg University in the field of Physics and Astronomy. Dr. Shahbaz was doing his PhD from Max Planck institute at that time. He told me about various university institutes and on top of that, two Max Planck Institutes conducting research and covering a very broad spectrum in studies of Physics. Also being serving as a lecturer in Government College University Lahore which is alma mater of our national poet and philosopher Allama Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, I was aware of his stay at Heidelberg. He wrote a beautiful poem with title “An Evening (at the bank of Neckar river)” and in recognition now the bank is called Iqbal Ufer. Strong research culture in Physics and emotional attachment due to Iqbal's stay at Heidelberg, it was an easy decision.
What have you learned so far in Heidelberg? What experiences have been particularly valuable?
I think I can easily divide my learning experiences in two halves, pre-Heidelberg and Heidelberg onwards. My stay in Heidelberg helped me in not only building my scientific expertise but more than that I built a strong character there. Pre-Heidelberg personality traits vanished but the one I built in vibrant environment of Heidelberg are there to stay.
How did your career continue after your time in Heidelberg?
After completing my PhD, I joined Institute of Space Technology (IST), a public sector university in Islamabad, as Assistant Professor and laid the foundation of a new academic and research program in the field of Astronomy and Astrophysics. I have established a small observatory for teaching purposes at IST.
What is your view of the German scientific system in comparison to that of your home country or to that of other countries where you may have conducted research?
Researchers in Germany target to work on problems that lie on frontiers of scientific knowledge. I found strong scientific infrastructure and conducive environment for carrying out quality research.
In your opinion, what is the importance of international exchanges for researchers?
As renowned noble laureate physicist Prof. Dr. Abdus Salam said: "scientific thought is the common heritage of all mankind", international exchanges between researchers provide them a unique opportunity to discuss their ideas and open the possibility of working jointly on problems of the interest. Also the gains and experiences of a particular society expand globally and other communities get benefit out of the the learnings.
Do you recommend a research visit to Heidelberg University to your students or to colleagues in your scientific network?
I strongly recommend my students to get admission to Heidelberg University for their MS and PhD studies as well as for summer internship programs offered by different institutes of the university. Some of them have applied for Master and PhD positions this year.
Why did you apply to HAIreconnect and what will you do during your stay in Heidelberg?
A brief stay in Heidelberg shall provide me an opportunity to visit latest supercomputing facilities at University Computing Centre, specifically those owned by Astronomisches Rechen-Institut where I did my PhD. I have been using these facilities for modeling supermassive black holes (SMBH) binary evolution in galaxy mergers. Knowledge of the most recent state of these facilities shall help me in conducting my future experiments more efficiently. Apart from strengthening ongoing research ties with researchers in Heidelberg, I shall explore the possibility of signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between ARI Heidelberg and IST, Islamabad (my home institute) to share computational resources and joint supervision of research students.
What is your opinion of the opportunities made available through the Research Alumni Network?
HAIreconnect is an excellent opportunity for researchers like me working in developing countries with lack of funding and scientific infrastructure to visit a place as conducive for sciences as Heidelberg. This helps end scientific isolation and keeps the flame of knowledge and curiosity burning.