Who Am I?

I am a theoretical physicist, working on fundamental questions in quantum mechanics, cosmology, and gravity. I am an Assistant Professor of Physics at Whitman College in charming Walla Walla, WA, and a visiting affiliate at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, I was postdoctoral scholar in Physics at Caltech and a visiting affiliate at, I am a part of Olivier Doré's group where I am thinking about the effects of quantum physics in early universe cosmology. I am also part of a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) study aimed at probing fundamental physics (in particular, quantum gravity for me) using space-based atom interferometric tests.

I completed my Ph.D. in Physics at Caltech in 2020, advised by
Sean Carroll. My thesis, titled "Quantum Mechanical Vistas on the Road to Quantum Gravity" focused on the emergence of structure in quantum mechanics with an eye towards quantum gravity and cosmology. We laid out the goal, and a broad outline, for a program that takes quantum mechanics in its minimal form to be the fundamental ontology of the universe. Everything else, including features like space-time, matter and gravity associated with classical reality, are emergent from these minimal quantum elements. We dubbed this program as "Mad-Dog Everettianism," and it serves as a manifesto and motivation for a lot of my work.

During my PhD, I was also an instructor and a teaching assistant for a variety of physics courses in the core undergraduate curriculum, spanning Classical Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Special Relativity, Vibrations & Waves, Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Physics & Thermodynamics. I absolutely loved teaching in the classroom! The student body at Caltech, the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology awarded me the 2018 ASCIT Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2019, the Physics Department at Caltech conferred me with the R. Bruce Stewart Prize for Excellence in Physics Teaching which is "awarded to a graduate student teaching assistant who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate/graduate classroom or laboratory teaching of physics." I also served as the Physics Teaching Fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year, being a resource for the department and the other teaching assistants to help strengthen the teaching culture.

Supported by an
Innovation in Education grant by the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach at Caltech, we offered the 2019 Caltech sophomore/junior level course on Vibrations & Waves taught by Prof. Frank Porter and myself as an online course available at http://waves.caltech.edu. In a rather unique online offering, course materials were made public in June 2020, creating an open-source learning resource, complete with recorded lectures, recitations, homework & exam problems, and their solutions to offer a self-teaching course to audiences beyond Caltech.

Before my PhD, I studied Physics at the
Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, where I graduated top of my class with an Institute Silver Medal in 2015. My masters thesis was on "Precision Emulation of Statistics of the Lyman-alpha Forest using a Gaussian Process-based Machine Learning Model" which I completed at the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy in Heidelberg in Joe Hennawi's group. I had some of the best time of my life in Roorkee. I was the Secretary of the Astronomy Club and a co-founder of the Physics Journal Club. With a wonderful cohort of friends and classmates, we built Roorkee's first in-house campus planetarium, a 25 ft geodesic dome structure to bring the charm of the night skies to the masses. On the research front, I mostly focused on astronomy and astrophysics during my undergraduate days before long discussions with Aiman Khan made me join the dark side, thinking about foundational quantum mechanics.

I was born and raised in New Delhi, India, and attended Birla Vidya Niketan for my schooling. I was introduced to amateur astronomy in 2007 with the
Amateur Astronomers Association of Delhi (AAAD), and have been an active astronomer and astrophotographer ever since. I was awarded the National Bal Shree Honor for Creative Scientific Innovations, India's 2nd highest honor for children, by the President of India, Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil in June 2008. It was also during these years which laid the foundation of my admiration and interest in Indian Classical Music.


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2020
    Quantum Mechanical Vistas on the Road to Quantum Gravity
    Advisor: Prof. Sean Carroll

  • Masters of Science (MS) in Physics, California Institute of Technology, 2018

  • Integrated Masters of Science (IMSc) in Physics, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, 2015

My Academic Geneology

My Ph.D. advisor was Sean Carroll, whose advisor was George Field, whose advisor was Lyman Spitzer, whose advisor was Henry Norris Russell, whose advisor was Charles Augustus Young. As far as we know, Young never actually received the Ph.D., so the line stops there. Famous academic relatives include cousin Bob Kirshner (whose advisor was Bev Oke, whose advisor was Spitzer) and grand-uncle Harlow Shapley (whose advisor was Russell).

My Academic Collaborators
I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some very interesting, talented and enthusiastic collaborators, listed here in alphabetical order (by last name):