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Careers in Physics

Some top city colleges mentioned by Physics professors are St. Stephen’s, Hindu College (New Delhi), Presidency (Kolkata), Fergusson College (Pune), St Xavier’s (Kolkata, Mumbai), St. Joseph’s (Bangalore).

Career Paths in Physics

Physics, like any natural science, is both theoretical and experimental. In India, theoretical physics has tremendous opportunity, with new avenues for research opening up constantly. Experimental physics is catching up slowly, as it requires investments in infrastructure, but is bound to grow sooner than later.

Getting an academic or a research position in top institutes in the country is still the aspiration for many with a doctoral degree in physics – these give the physics lover a ‘paid opportunity’ to chase his research dream! “There are opportunities at multinationals like General Electric and General Motors, bio-medical firms, oil companies (like ONGC and Shell),” states Dr. Purusattam Ray, professor at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai. Avenues are open at master’s level, but to move higher up in the organisation a Ph.D. degree is preferred.

Would we think of a physicist in the banking sector? Interestingly, the world of finance also requires physicists! Physicists are employed to understand patterns of financial market behaviour and to come up with analytical and predictive models. After all, they have learnt to model nature that has as much, if not more complex phenomena than any financial market! Globally, physicists work in fields as diverse as law and order, transport, communication, environment and climate, energy solutions and management! It is only a matter of time before these fields open up in India too.

Another upcoming interdisciplinary field is biophysics — the study of quantitative measurements and analysis in biological processes. Nanobots (tiny robots) to target individual cancer cells or using infrared light to monitor blood (to facilitate withdrawal of blood samples from children, or to estimate blood glucose levels), are new techniques being developed using inputs from physics.
The next decade promises to be particularly interesting for biophysicists. Several research institutes like National Institute for Research in Reproductive health (NIRRH) Mumbai, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, Institute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh, Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), Chennai, Indian Institute of Science (IISC), Bangalore, National Institute of Virology (ICMR), Pune and government organisations in India are beginning to employ biophysicists. On the industry front pharmaceutical, biotechnology and nanotechnology firms are looking for biophysicists as well.

The glamour of engineering degrees and the mushrooming of engineering colleges have resulted in fewer and fewer students taking up pure sciences such as physics. The fact is, if you study engineering you can take up engineering jobs, but if you study physics, these engineering jobs are still open to you, along with many more options!


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