hem sheela

From India to Drury with success on the way

While the idea that a student would travel more than 8,000 miles to attend a liberal arts university in Missouri may sound surprising to some, for recent Drury graduate Sayan Patra (Pronounced: Shy-own Pah-tra), choosing Drury was simply the next step. Patra is from Durgapur, India, and attended Hem Sheela Model School in his home country. Hem Sheela is Drury University’s sister school in Durgapur, which was founded by Drury professors Rabindra and Protima Roy in 1995. Attending elementary and secondary school at a place founded by Drury professors means Patra grew up with Drury in mind. “My family and friends didn’t want to see me travel so far away,” said Patra. “But I wanted to see the world with my own eyes.”

Patra in Chicago in 2010

With a scholarship in hand, Patra came to Drury to pursue undergraduate degrees in mathematics, computer science and physics. Chasing three majors at once is no easy task and Patra pressed his limits by becoming involved in numerous organizations around campus. By being associated with a wide diversity of departments at Drury, Patra was able to meet new people and make connections on a personal level. He tackled his busy schedule by developing time management skills and relationships with Drury faculty. “The Roys (Drs. Rabindra and Protima) pushed me to succeed, whether it was academics or involvement,” said Patra. With ambitions high, Patra accomplished a great deal in his four years at Drury, including creating the app Greeksr that helps Greek Life students connect with other Greeks via social media on one platform. In addition, he graduated Summa Cum Laude and was named Outstanding Senior Man for the 2012-2013 school year.

“We are very proud of Sayan because he made Hem Sheela very proud,” said Rabindra and Protima Roy. “The day we opened the doors at Hem Sheela, he was there to sign up for kindergarten.”

Patra is currently home in India where he will get a couple months of rest before starting his fall semester at Washington University in St. Louis. He is one of the few students selected for the Harold P. Brown Engineering Fellowship, a merit scholarship for students who excel in academic and co-curricular achievements. He will pursue a major in mechanical engineering with a minor in aerospace engineering.  Upon completion, he plans to obtain a doctorate in aerospace engineering. As a child, Patra dreamed of building planes and rockets, but growing up he learned building them did not help people, at least not the way he wanted to. “I want to build satellites because they help people,” he said. “We all need to do our part to make this world better. Blind ambition or personal satisfaction doesn’t do that. I want to do work that accomplishes a greater good.”

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Story by Amber Perdue, a May 2013 Drury University graduate.

Drury physics major learns about “String Theory” during summer internship

Springfield, Mo., Oct. 17, 2011String Theory. For the lay-person, it’s easier to say what it isn’t than what it is. It has nothing to do with flying kites, wrapping packages or classical instruments. It is actually a physics theory that could become a “theory of everything” accounting for all forces and matter that exists. For Drury student Anish Chakrabarti, working with and learning from one of the world’s top string theorists over the summer was something he describes as a dream come true.

Chakrabarti with string theorist Dr. James Gates

Chakrabarti spent the summer as a national intern for the Society of Physics Students in Washington D.C. where he worked with the Public Broadcasting Service show NOVA. Chakrabarti helped to promote a four-part NOVA documentary called the “Fabric of the Cosmos” based on a book by the same name written by scientist Brian Green.

Chakrabarti organized a “Cosmic Café” with Dr. James Gates in the D.C. area to encourage interest in the NOVA program. Gates is a professor of physics and the Director of the Center for String and Particle Theory at the University of Maryland at College Park, and he is an interview subject in the “Fabric of the Cosmos.” A “Cosmic Café” is an informal gathering with a scientist that allows people interested in the subject to speak with the scientist. “Typically, older people will watch PBS and learn about science. Schoolchildren learn about science in school. A “Cosmic Café” appeals to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. It’s a discussion with the scientist, not a lecture,” Chakrabarti said.

Besides Gates, Chakrabarti met a couple of Nobel Prize winners, a Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation and watched Senate debate on science and energy funding during his internship; opportunities Chakrabarti says he wouldn’t have had in his native India. Chakrabarti is a graduate of Hem Sheela in Durgapur, India. Hem Sheela was founded in 1995 by Drury Professors Rabindra and Protima Roy. “This is what I wanted to do with the internship–get exposure,” Chakrabarti said.

After graduating from Drury in May, Chakrabarti plans to pursue an engineering degree from Washington University in St. Louis.