“I work with astrophysics and gamma rays. When a star is very big and it bursts, it will become something called a supernova. That’s not so interesting when you see it in normal light, but in X-rays and gamma rays you can see a lot more details. We also use gamma rays to understand what physics is going on in objects like distant galaxy cores, black holes and neutron stars.Physics is really male-dominated, and that can be hard. Women drop out of STEM fields so often for multiple reasons. That’s why our department has Women in Physics and Astronomy (WomPA). A lot of our graduate students are married, or have children, and sometimes you can’t unwind when you come home, and you can’t unwind when you come to work, and it becomes so difficult. WomPA is like a community gathering place, and just knowing there are other people going through the same difficulties as you is a big help.”

— Payel Kar, doctoral candidate in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and member of WomPA

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at