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Verma and TRIUMF team up for new scholarship

17 August 2016

Vijay Verma was the project management group leader from 1976 to his retirement in 2013. In that time, two of his children took part in the SHAD ( program, and he saw first hand the impact it could have on up and coming scholars.

To bring his deep fondness for both TRIUMF and SHAD together, Vijay has made a gift of $500, which TRIUMF will match, to create a new scholarship. The new TRIUMF-SHAD Scholarship will support SHAD students who wish to pursue their dreams at TRIUMF for a one-month internship.

It was Chan Hyeok (Brandon) Park, the 17 year old SHAD participant and student at Fraser Heights Secondary School who was awarded the inaugural Scholarship, and with it a $1000 stipend for his one-month research experience at TRIUMF. Brandon joined the Advanced Applied Physics Solutions group at TRIUMF under the supervision of Dr. Doug Schouten, with whom he worked on a neutron-detection system.

Brandon Park and Doug Shouten

The SHAD program allows over 600+ high school students to attend a one month long summer program at one of the many participating universities  across Canada. The program is for well-rounded high academic achievers and emerging leaders, and Brandon Park is exactly that. He was inspired to apply for the SHAD program after hearing about extraordinary experiences from SHAD alumni: “I wanted to go through the same experience they did.”

Working at TRIUMF was the perfect opportunity for Brandon to test his skills and also take his first steps into the world of particle and nuclear physics: “I was curious about what nuclear physics is really about and what it feels like to work in a real-life laboratory.” He says the best thing about working at TRIUMF has been the opportunity to approach and solve problems in a creative manner. “The resources and the support were there so I had a lot of room to work with.”

The scholarship and month-long placement allowed Brandon to explore the fields of particle and nuclear physics and see how research paves the way to applications in the real world. “I learned a lot - from nuclear physics to learning a programming language - but the one thing I truly value is the experience of understanding complex and difficult concepts and solving problems that you have never encountered before.” Not only is this an opportunity for the young physicist to learn what it takes to work at an experimental laboratory, but it also hints at the difficulty and complexity of the type of work that physicists perform on a daily basis.

Brandon expresses his gratitude for the $1000 award: “I was surprised, in a pleasant way. Even before finding out about the scholarship from TRIUMF and Vijay Verma, I was already grateful for being given the opportunity to work in a real-life lab environment. I would really like to express my gratitude to TRIUMF and Vijay Verma for the scholarship.”

Vijay himself has nothing but praise for Brandon; he describes the scholarship student as “a fantastic young man - energetic and intelligent.”

Brandon Park and Vijay Verma in conversation

The inspiration to make the gift came from Vijay’s son and daughter, who Vijay says both benefited from the SHAD experience significantly. Naveen Verma attended the SHAD  program in 1998 at Waterloo and then spent a month at TRIUMF working on computer simulations of the beam experiments and detector electronics. As the father of Naveen, who is now Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton, Vijay Verma has seen the results that the month long term at TRIUMF had on his son. Vijay views the SHAD experience to be about developing lifelong relationships and important skills: “It is a very enriching program and an extensive learning experience”.

Vijay hopes that his contribution will encourage the next generation of students entering the SHAD program to think about physics and the impact that a placement at TRIUMF can have on their careers. "TRIUMF is a great place; it provides an open learning environment and the inspiration to challenge yourself and always think outside the box.”  

He hopes that others too will think of the next generation of physicists: “I consider myself to be very fortunate to have been able to make this small contribution - I hope others will do the same.”