In the Light: Ashish Shah

In the Light: Ashish Shah

 A popular idea of scientists assumes that a life spent conducting experiments leads to zany discoveries – the stuff of explosive mixtures and Frankenstein monsters. However, a more serious appraisal of scientists knows their work is often beautiful in its clarity and order, but sometimes just a bit tedious.

Senior Ashish Shah is no stranger to the science lab. He spent his last two summers doing lab work with Colgate professors and gets further experience during the school year as a Physics and Math double major. 


Though he knows that the work often follows a diagrammed route, there is sometimes more to it. When that work leads the scientist to the edge of exciting and new knowledge, for example, as when during that summer Shah got to experimentally test some theories on photons (using a laser he helped construct), science can seem like a fairy tale.

 “What you have is a weird phenomenon,” Shah explained. “A photon can interfere with itself. Normally, you would think of something ‘interfering’ with something else, but here the photon does this to itself.”

 The wonders of a Colgate science lab are something that Shah does not take for granted. Shah comes from Nepal. Before Colgate, he had never had experience with any place other than the town in Nepal where he was born and the town where he attended secondary school.

 “Advanced sciences are just finding their start in Nepal,” Shah said. “Some day I hope to go back because I know I could really help.”

 Despite the rewards, transitioning from Nepal to Hamilton was no small feat. It was a difficult process, but one made easier by student groups that offered support and a reminder of home. Early in his Colgate career, Shah joined up with the Colgate International Community (CIC), the Hindu Student Association (HSA) and the Cricket Club. 

 “I never imagined that I would be at Colgate, so far from home, and playing cricket,” Shah said. “It was a pleasant surprise.”

 Eventually, Shah moved up in the ranks to leadership roles in each of these clubs. He has encouraged and supported these activities, making sure that they would be there for future students just as they were there for him.

 Shah further involves himself on campus working as a Resident Advisor (RA). 

“It feels good when you can help that needy resident,” Shah said. “When you’re an RA, you don’t always do the most serious stuff, and that’s good in a way, but when that moment comes along… well, you know how it is.”

 So from Nepal to Colgate, from the science lab to cricket court, Ashish Shah has made discoveries, both scientific and personal, that have changed his life in a way that… well, you know how it is.