Aparajita Singha

"Bringing together divergent working styles from different parts of the world can be highly conductive for addressing research challenges."

Aparajita Singha's (34, Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart) career is an impressive example of how the global networking of the science bridges cultures and enriches our research landscape internationally. After completing her bachelor's and master's degrees in Calcutta and Mumbai in India, the young scientist went on to Switzerland for her PhD at EPFL in Lausanne. After a PostDoc at the Center for QuantumNanoscience in Seoul, South Korea, she is now a junior group leader for surface science and magnetism at the atomic scale in Stuttgart.



If I hadn't become a physicist ...

In that case, I would probably be a vocalist, having been trained in Indian classical music for 14 years. The creative freedom co-existing with rigid rules is not far from physics in its essence, only differing in the domain of applicability. Till today, I find music practice to be soothing amidst the chaos of life. :)


What is the most beautiful conference venue
you know?

St. Sebastian. Physics demands calm thinking in conductive environment. The combination of forefront physics on the blackboard in a medieval classroom, together with a bird’s eye view of a calm bay from the windows seemed ideal for pursuing the secrets of nature.


What else moves you besides physics and work?

Seeing things grow: be it an explorative project, plants in my garden, or the understanding of my students.


What was the last DPG event in which you took part?

DPG spring meeting on surface science, 2021. Being able to connect with friends and colleagues after a long gap was really stimulating.


How do you imagine the DPG to be in the future or at its 200th anniversary in 2045?

Given the changes in working style over the last one and a half years, I imagine that big conferences like DPG will be held in a hybrid style in the future, that will accommodate both physical presence and simultaneous virtual events.


What task do you see for physics in the society of tomorrow?

I think that big conferences like DPG could play a huge role in raising a broad awareness about the regular lives of physicists. Our everyday lives in the laboratory are not only made of excitements and successes. Rather, it is the
sequence of calculated steps that we take and the failure that we try to learn from, which eventually lead us to our path of success. What I generally find missing in conferences is that we only tend to highlight only the success stories but skip sharing experiences of unexpected limiting failures.
To bridge this gap, I can imagine seeing some events in the form of panel discussions where scientists can openly discuss about the bottlenecks, limitations, and failures in the current methods and understandings of different topics. 


What are the tasks of a physics conceived on a European level?

International co-operations. As I have experienced throughout my career, bringing together divergent working styles from different parts of the world can be highly conductive for addressing research challenges.


What topic(s) does your thesis deal with?

My thesis was focussed at identifying and overcoming the fundamental challenges in realizing the tiniest possible magnets, which are a class of single atoms and molecules on surfaces.


What are you working on today?

I am currently working with an ultra-sensitive atomic-scale probe, which can image very tiny magnetic fields and field patterns, with the goal of opening up a new direction in the field of quantum sensing and computation.


What would you like to give to the young scientists?

Listen to your inner drive without succumbing to publication pressure, gather an idea about the underlying patterns by discussing with your peers, and if necessary, take a chance with projects where you can contribute the most. Early in my career, I had moved from a very different field to the domain of surface science and magnetism at the atomic scale. Ever since, I have been cherishing this domain. I am certain that had I not listened to my inner voice back then, I would be regretting today


Physics is like ....

Like music, physics is a domain where creative freedom seamlessly blends with rigid rules.


Bild: © Soham Basu