Meet Sameed Muhammad, the Pakistani scientist at CERN

Dunya News

Sameed is one of the few Pakistanis at CERN. Photo courtesy: Tech Juice

(Web Desk) - The European Organisation for Nuclear Research or CERN is one of the most prestigious centers for scientific research in the world. However, despite the fact that CERN employs numerous scientists in its laboratories very few of them are from the subcontinent.

Sameed Muhammed is one such scientist from Pakistan. His journey of becoming a researcher at CERN is a tale as inspiring as it is unexpected.

Sameed grew up in a middle class family in Islamabad which according to him was “paranoid about giving their children a solid education and impeccable manners”. However, unlike most such families where the focus of a good education is to secure a well-paying job Sameed’s parents never cared much about his grades. Instead they encouraged him to study for the sake of acquiring knowledge and to question the world around him. This created an inquisitiveness in him that would later make him into an excellent researcher.

As Sameed grew up he worked hard at his school. He began to especially excel at Science and Mathematics and would routinely top in his class in those subjects.

In 2007 he got invited to Stanford University Mathematics Camp and completed his BA in Physics and Mathematics from Cornell University in the United States. That was when he got an official invitation from CERN inviting him to take part in their summer program for introducing students to the field of particle physics. Sameed was thrilled at the invitation and he accepted becoming one of the only two students attending from Pakistan that year.

The summer program proved to be a life altering experience for Sameed as he and the other students had the time of their lives. By the end of his stay Sameed had decided that he wanted to become a physicist, and that he wanted to do it at CERN.

To ensure that this happened Sameed sent targeted emails to specific professors while he was completing his MSc at KAUST in Saudi Arabia. These emails explained to the professors about Sameed’s physics background and detailed how he was looking for a PhD position. Eventually one of professors accepted Sameed’s request and he was offered a position to study Physics at CERN as a full-time researcher.

It has been four years since Sameed had started working at CERN and he has just completed his PhD. So far his research has gotten him two publications in Nature with a third one to be published in August.

Sameed says that at CERN there is a road named after the famous Pakistani physicist Abdus Salaam who won the Nobel Prize in 1979 for his Electroweak Theory. “On my way to work everyday, I pass by that road, wondering whether there will ever be a time again when Pakistanis would be celebrated and cherished in the world of Physics.”

This piece originally appeared in TechJuice. For a personal account of Sameed’s story read here.