Wayne State welcomes Pathway-to-Faculty fellow Dr. Saptaparna Bhattacharya

We are happy to introduce Dr. Saptaparna Bhattacharya as the new Pathway to Faculty fellow in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The Pathway to Faculty program is a new initiative to help diversify the faculty at Wayne State. It provides support as a research fellow for two to three years, offering guidance and mentoring to prepare the fellow for acceptance to a tenure-track faculty position in the same department.

Dr. Bhattacharya
Dr. Bhattacharya

Department Chair, Professor Ed Cackett, said “We are delighted to have Dr. Bhattacharya join us. Her strong and exciting research program in experimental particle physics is highly complementary to ongoing efforts in our department. Moreover, as a department, we have made significant improvements in gender balance at the undergraduate level, with women approximately 40% of our majors, well above the national average. We are excited that the Pathway to Faculty program is helping us ensure that our students can identify with role models in the faculty too.”

Dr. Bhattacharya received her Ph.D. from Brown University in 2016 and joins us from Northwestern University where she was a postdoctoral research associate. She is the recipient of the prestigious Humboldt Fellowship. Dr. Bhattacharya is a high-energy experimentalist who works with the data collected by the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.

Her current research interests lie in exploring the electroweak sector of the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Throughout her association with the CMS Collaboration, she has held several leadership roles and currently leads the analysis group that studies multiple boson production at the LHC.

Dr. Bhattacharya uses advanced machine-learning techniques for studying the particle detectors of the future. She was the recipient of the Distinguished Researcher Award, conferred by the LHC Physics Center at Fermilab, two years in a row (2019-2020). She played a central role in the discovery of triple boson production, an extremely rare process, in CMS. At Wayne State, Dr. Bhattacharya will launch a comprehensive research program to look for new physics in rare and novel processes at the LHC. On the Pathway to Faculty program, she said “This program provides a valuable opportunity to dedicate two years solely to my research. I would like to use these two years to form my research group with a combination of graduate and undergraduate students.”

Dr. Bhattacharya is well-known in the field of experimental particle physics. She was an elected member of the Fermilab Users Executive Committee and served as chair of the committee in 2019-2020. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate educator, guiding about 15 graduate students in various capacities. She has taught courses, most recently in the summer of 2023, on the Higgs boson to high-school students as pre-college faculty at Brown. She has delivered public lectures on the importance of the Higgs boson discovery as the inaugural Sievert Prize winner at Northwestern University in 2022.

On several occasions, she traveled to Washington, D.C. to talk about the importance of funding fundamental science research and addressing key stakeholders. Dr. Bhattacharya firmly believes in the principle, "what I cannot teach, I do not understand," demonstrating her unwavering enthusiasm for teaching when she transitions to the role of assistant professor.

Welcome to Wayne State, Saptaparna!

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