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ICTP Diploma Graduates Class of 2017

Ceremony and Celebration

28/08/2017 - Trieste

The Postgraduate Diploma Class of 2017 graduated on 28 August in a ceremony held in conjunction with the Spirit of Salam Award Ceremony. It's a fitting juxtaposition, honoring two groups of individuals who are carrying on Abdus Salam's legacy. ICTP's founder wanted to create a research home away from home for developing country scientists, as well as a resource base and training center. Each successful class of Postgraduate Diploma students helps bring this dream to life.

The Postgraduate Diploma Program is designed to assist students from developing countries who are interested in further study in physics or mathematics. The program helps fill in any past gaps in their education, expose students to many different subfields, and prepare them to competitively apply to any PhD program in the world.

Diploma 17-1It's been an intense year for the students, with two semesters full of tough classes as well as a summer spent working on a short research project and writing a thesis. The students choose one of four areas of instruction when they apply: high energy physics, condensed matter physics, mathematics, or Earth system physics. They defended their work in the weeks leading up to today's celebration, and many of them will be moving on to do PhDs or find jobs this fall.

Of the 34 graduating students, four were singled out as the top students of their respective programs:

  • Mary Madelynn Nayga (Philippines) studied condensed matter physics and is heading to Dresden, Germany for a PhD at the Max Planck Research School for Chemistry and Physics of Quantum Materials;
  • Jan Tristram Aparejado Acuña (Philippines) studied high energy physics and will be starting a PhD at SISSA this fall;
  • Sumiya Baasandorj (Mongolia) studied mathematics and has headed to Korea to start a PhD at Seoul National University;
  • John Keith Velazquez Magali (Philippines) studied Earth system physics and will begin a PhD at the University of Lyon in November.

Students appreciated their ICTP professors and the skills passed on. "I was excited and worried when I learned I was accepted to this program, feeling I had many gaps I had to fill. I have learned to ask many questions and not just accept things at face value," says Adu Offei Danso, a condensed matter physics student. "All our professors made a great job in teaching us such a complex materials," says Roshan Chamba, who studied high energy physics.

Diploma 17Ph DsSome of the students came full circle for ICTP: their supervisors at their home universities are former diploma students themselves. "My advisor suggested I apply," says Hari Ram Thapa, an Earth system physics student. "I did my masters in condensed matter physics, and then the earthquake hit Nepal. I realized there was a lack of geophysicists in Nepal, so I set out to learn more about what's happening under Nepal."  At ICTP, Thapa studied under the supervision of ICTP geophysicist Karim Aoudia, successfully completing research on the mapping of crustal discontinuities beneath the Himalaya of Nepal.

Many of the graduates admit that they will miss ICTP’s unique international environment, as well as its host city of Trieste. "Trieste is a very good place for ICTP, and for studies," says Michael Baidu, another Earth system physics student. "It's peaceful and calm, the sea is right there. Unlike other cities, there's very few distractions." Rafael A. Martínez Márquez, who studied mathematics, said "One year ago, we arrived in Trieste, with many dreams, shy, and far from our families. We are still a little shy, but now we have a new family, made of people from different countries."

All of the students were happy and excited to have graduated. "A year ago we sat through a similar ceremony to this, where the ICTP community welcomed us warmly. We started as curious individuals. A year ago graduation seemed very far away, but the starting fear quickly went away," says Earth system physics graduate Jeane Anne Dagoy.

"I'm really feeling confident after this year at ICTP," says Rafaa Ahmed, a condensed matter student from Sudan who researched entanglement properties of extended Ising models under the supervision of ICTP scientists Marcello Dalmonte and Fernando Iemini De Rezende Aguilar. "I'm feeling better about the gaps in my background. I'm ready to do a PhD and return to my country as a capable researcher."

Two video recordings of the graduation ceremony, part 1 and part 2, and an album of photos are now available.


---- Kelsey Calhoun