When Professor Mohammad Sajjad Athar of the Department of Physics at Aligarh Muslim University started working with Professor Takaaki Kajita of Japan at the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, University of Tokyo, little did he know that he was on the way to bring laurels for AMU and India. Kajita has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on neutrino atomic particles, a research area in which Prof Athar worked with him and co-wrote three research papers with the Nobel Laureate during 2012-15.
Athar worked with the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research in May and June 2008 and June and July 2012 with Kajita as the director of the institute. Kajita, who is also associated with the Super K Lab, was given the Nobel Prize for “the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which shows that neutrinos have mass”.
Athar and Kajita have co-authored research papers titled, Atmospheric neutrino Flux at INO, South Pole and Pyhasalmi; Atmospheric neutrino flux calculation using the NRLMSISE-00 atmospheric model; and Calculation of Atmospheric Neutrino Flux with NRLMSISE-00.
Mohammad Sajjad Athar of the Department of Physics at Aligarh Muslim University worked at the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research with Takaaki Kajita. Kajita, who is also associated with the Super K Lab, was given the Nobel Prize for the discovery that neutrinos have mass.
“I was invited by Kajita to work with him on the predictions of atmospheric neutrino flux,” said Athar.
This work of Kajita eventually bagged the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics.
In a letter of gratitude to Athar, Kajita acknowledged his association. He wrote: “Athar visited the Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, University of Tokyo as a guest associate professor. He attended the XXV International Conference on Neutrino Physics and Astrophysics, held in Kyoto during 4-9 June 2012, where he presented two papers entitled Nuclear medium effects and Kaon Production of the Nucleon.
Kajita further stated in the letter that Athar interacted with Morihiro Honda and carried out work on the Atmospheric Nutrini Flux at the proposed sites for the Atmospheric Neutrino Experiment.
“Athar has also worked exclusively on the Atmospheric Neutrino Flux at the proposed India-based Neutrino Observatory Project,” wrote Kajita, adding that it is hoped that Athar will continue to work on this and collaborate with his group.
In the letter, Kajita also acknowledged Athar of delivering a seminar on the “Importance of cross section on predicting neutrino event mass”.
“We look forward to Athar’s work on strange particle production which is important for the proton decay searches at Super — Kamiokhande,” wrote Kajita. He ended the letter with a note that he looks forward to continue the collaboration work with Athar.
Meanwhile, two AMU Department of Bio-Chemistry alumni, Intisan Husain and Sighatullah Lari, who are now settled in the US, worked as post-doctorate fellows with Aziz Sancar, one of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners. The two AMU alumni had worked with Sancar at the University of North Carolina. They have also published research papers in peer reviewed academic journals in collaboration with Sancar.
Two AMU Department of Bio-Chemistry alumni, Intisan Husain and Sighatullah Lari, worked as post-doctorate fellows with Aziz Sancar, one of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners.
Lt Gen (Retd) Zameer Uddin Shah, vice-chancellor of AMU, said that achievement of Athar and two other AMU alumni are extraordinary and indicative of Indian scientists’ importance in international level research. “I hope young scientists like Athar continue their research work dedicatedly and I am sure one day he will himself be awarded the Nobel Prize. I hope his achievement is recognised in our country and highlighted properly to inspire young scientists,” said Lt Gen Shah.