The Texas Connection

Diploma alumni excelling in Lone Star State
University of Houston's Carlos Ordonez (centre) with ICTP alumni.

They left ICTP with hard-earned knowledge gained through their experience in the centre's intense, one-year Postgraduate Diploma Programme, and with an appetite to learn more.

Now, seven ICTP Postgraduate Diploma alumni are pursuing PhDs at the University of Houston (UH) in Texas, thanks to an agreement signed 5 years ago between UH and ICTP.

The students, whose disciplines include high energy,  condensed matter and Earth system physics, recently presented their work to the UH community in an event organized by Carlos Ordonez, UH associate professor of physics and director of the ICTP/UH student programme.

"It's such a neat programme, and it's working so well that I believe more people need to learn about it, and in fact, learn more about ICTP this way, and how we're greatly benefiting by having such a group of talented and diverse students on our campus, and in our city," says Ordonez, adding, "Beyond the publicity, though, I think it's also important to acknowledge the effort these students make, at all levels, to take advantage of the opportunities to do state-of-the-art science that they are given here."

The students represent a wide geographic distribution, coming from Nepal, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ghana, and Pakistan. Yet they share a common characteristic, according to Ordonez: a strong belief in their abilities. "To me at least, it's clear that the ICTP was the institution that instilled these values in them, and therefore it deserves a lot of credit for having created a system that not only gives young students solid knowledge and training in science, but also a tremendous boost in self confidence."

In general, Ordonez says, ICTP alumni have essentially no problem quickly adapting to the American educational system and living in the USA. "Obviously, having to adapt to a new country plus their new obligations as Teaching Assistants, together with the rigor of the core courses, imposes a heavy load on the students. But coming with solid knowledge and excellent working habits, they eventually manage well," he explains.

The ICTP Diploma alumni at UH are:

  • Keshav Shrestha, from Nepal, studying condensed matter physics  
  • Merzu Kebede Belete, from Ethiopia, studying condensed matter physics  
  • Emmanuel Epie Njumbe, from Cameroon, studying condensed matter physics  
  • Ivy Belinda Ahiabu, from Ghana,  studying Earth system physics
  • Eyob Kebede, from Ethiopia, studying condensed matter physics  
  • Armindo Samuel Cuamba, from Mozambique, studying high energy physics
  • Khurram Aslam, from Pakistan, studying Earth system physics

The UH has posted a detailed story about the ICTP Postgraduate Diploma alumni on their website.