Hi, I’m Ayesha! I’m a first-year physics Ph.D. student in New York City.
As a first-year, I’m mainly required to take all of my core physics courses and take four rotations in a year where I work with a professor’s lab or group to help me choose a field of research and advisor. However, before I started the year I had already reached out to a certain professor in the department and connected with her over the summer, and started working in her lab. So I have been going to classes, doing my rotations in other labs, and working with my advisor.
I’m interested in experimental condensed matter and my group’s research is on topological insulators with an emphasis on the Quantum Anomalous Hall effect. Currently, I’m making these very thin intrinsic topological material devices to measure the anomalous Hall effect and hopefully quantize it.
The big task currently in my life is to pass the qualifying exams now which are these comprehensive exams given in quantum mechanics, electromagnetism, analytical dynamics, and statistical mechanics.
I also have a YouTube channel (Ayesha Lakra) and an Instagram account (@ayl_studiesphysics) where I share about my day-to-day journey in my classes and lab, so feel free to check it out.
So that is a day in my life and I hope you enjoyed it.
I usually wake up around 7:30-7:45 am when I am not going to classes. I always begin my day with a cup of coffee (Starbucks pike place).
Next, I journal my thoughts and feelings about the day before and note down how I want today to be. I also do some mindfulness using some apps where I log my mood.
Next, it is time to have some breakfast. I’m not really a breakfast person so I make a smoothie ( fruits, yogurt, peanut butter, chia seeds, and germ ) and I’m able to get ready while having my breakfast.
I quickly plan my day in Notion and make a to-do list of all the things that I want to achieve and take note of any important tasks I need to complete.
Next, it is time to leave for the lab. I commute using the subway to the lab and it takes me about 60-90 mins to get there.
I come to the lab and open my work computer, answer some emails, and read some new literature for my research.
I start my work, and here I am making a device using photolithography. The first step after exfoliation is to spin coat photoresist on the substrate. This process usually takes me some time as I want an even layer of the photoresist.
Next I do the lithography using the mask aligner. The UV light creates a pattern on the substrate. Once I’m done with the lithography, I develop the pattern and deposit gold on the pattern.
I take a walk to the other side of the campus to get some chicken gyro from a halal food truck for lunch
I come back and usually have my lunch on my desk while playing a game of UNO on my phone.
Next, I read some more papers, email some people, and reply to some emails.
I finish wiring my sample and take some pictures of my finished sample under the microscope.
I take a bathroom selfie of myself, sorry, I’m guilty of it!
I leave the lab to head home.
Time to relax a little bit and get back to studying for my classes. I’m usually quite tired by this time but I try to study.
After studying and having my dinner, I relax by watching YouTube videos or tv shows and today’s tv show is Bridgerton. I really like the show and it’s light-hearted enough to make me feel good and relaxed before going to bed. After this, I usually go to bed by 11:15-11:30 pm.
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