Welcome Bidya Binay Karak!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bidya is no stranger to solar dynamo modeling. He earned his PhD in 2013 under the direction of Arnab Choudhuri at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore. A notable result from his thesis research was the demonstration that stochastic fluctuations in the meridional flow speed can trigger grand minima in flux-transport dynamo models. Since then he has explored a number of issues in solar and stellar dynamo theory, including the role of meridional circulation and turbulent pumping in flux-transport dynamos, solar cycle predictability, observable dynamo signatures and proxies, and turbulent transport, hysteresis, and the maintenance of mean flows in simulations of convective dynamos. The latter work made use of the Pencil code, which Bidya became fluent with as a postdoctoral fellow at Nordita, the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Bidya Binay Karak image
International traveler, Bidya, on a recent trip to Amsterdam.Bidya is one of four candidates who have been awarded a prestigious 2015 Jack Eddy Fellowship, sponsored by NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) program, and administered by UCAR's Scientific Visitors program. He will be carrying out his Jack Eddy Fellowship here at HAO for the next few years, working with Mark Miesch and Mausumi Dikpati on the further development of the STABLE (Surface flux Transport And Babcock-LEighton) solar dynamo model.
Bidya Binay Karak image
Bidya in Zermatt Switzerland with the majestic Matterhorn in the background.

Nordita was Bidya's first postdoctoral position. He went there after completing his PhD at IISc in 2013 and spent two years enjoying the intellectual atmosphere, long summer days, and the cool blue hues of Stockholm. Those two years were productive, but the cold, dark winters were a dramatic change from the tropical warmth and vivid bustle of India. In September, 2015, Bidya moved on to the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Sciences (MPS) in Gottingen, Germany to work with Robert Cameron and others for several months before moving to the US. Walking the streets of Gottingen and the halls of MPS brings back fond memories for Bidya of his first trip outside of India many years before, when he visited MPS as a graduate student. Then, as now, the visit marked a transition to a new life.

Bidya was born in a small village in the Bankura district, located in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal. His parents had land to farm but very little income. It was a challenge for them to pay for the education of their three children. But Bidya showed exceptional academic aptitude and they found a way to put him through secondary school and even through college. His academic achievements helped; he was granted merit-based financial aid by the state government and other sources.  This enabled him to earn an undergraduate degree in science from the best college in the district, Bankura Christian College.

Next was graduate school. Bidya set his sights on one of the top scientific research institutions in India; IISc in Bangalore. But it would not be easy.  As a child in rural Bankura, Bidya spoke only Bengali. To succeed at IISc he had to quickly learn English and Hindi. But, with the help of friends and mentors, succeed he did. After seven pleasant and enlightening years at IISc, the Department of Physics awarded him the Best thesis award of 2013. One of Bidya's favorite hobbies is, as he puts it, roaming. We are fortunate that his peripatetic path will pass through our corner of the world. He also enjoys gardening, cooking, and playing kabbaddi and volleyball. Take him wandering in the Colorado Rockies and you may convince him to whip up a spicy Bengali treat just for you.