Jefferson Lab Graduate Fellow Inspires Girls in Stem

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Photos courtesy of Pushpa Pandey

Nepali physicist overcomes constraints to pursue passion at lab

NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Pushpa Pandey, a final-year graduate fellow at Jefferson Lab, is inspiring girls in STEM with her story of overcoming constraints and pursuing her passion for physics.

Born and raised by a single mother in Nepal, Pandey developed a strong interest in physics during her high school years. Despite the limited availability of experimental resources in her country, Pandey and her classmates gathered to engage in theoretical discussions to comprehend physics concepts.

“I came to realize that physics transcends being just a subject; it is a mindset that allows us to grasp the fundamental principles governing our universe,” said Pandey.

Pandey’s journey has been incredibly rewarding, especially when she encounters astonishment from people in her country upon learning that she is a physicist. “It underscores how sometimes, constraints and responsibilities can fortify one’s determination more than opportunities can,” she said.

Pandey is grateful for the opportunity to pursue her passion through the Jefferson Science Associates graduate fellowship award and credits the Jefferson Lab target group for shaping who she is as a nuclear physicist.

“They are my mentors, we say "GURUs" in Nepali,” she said. Pandey considers it a privilege to continue working with her advisor, Dr. Sebastian Kuhn, a world-class physicist and Professor, Eminent Scholar, and Chair of Physics at Old Dominion University. Under his guidance, Pandey has deepened her understanding of nuclear physics and gained invaluable professional growth and networking opportunities.

“I have been very impressed by Pushpa’s journey from a beginning Ph.D. student to one of a small group of experts at Jefferson Lab that designed, built, commissioned and operated a unique apparatus, the polarized target in Jefferson Lab’s Hall B. This target was central to the success of the recent nine-month-long data-taking run that will result in unprecedented precision data on the internal spin structure of the nucleon. I am pleased that her work and her promise as a researcher have been recognized twice with the award of this fellowship” said Dr. Sebastian Kuhn.

“The JSA fellowship award has been a turning point in my academic journey,” said Pandey. “It has not only provided financial support but also opened doors to collaborate with leading experts in my field, greatly advancing my research.” Pandey is now on a path to make significant contributions to the field of nuclear physics. She wants to inspire other girls in STEM to believe in themselves, seek mentors and role models, and keep pushing the boundaries of what they can achieve.

“Your contributions to STEM can be transformative, and the world needs your innovative ideas and talents,” she said.

Contact Michelle Alvarez, Jefferson Lab Communications Office,


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).

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