Shruti Shrestha, PhD

Assistant Teaching Professor
Penn State Brandywine, Media, PA
AWIS member since 2023

“Always learn to welcome feedback.”

Shruti Shrestha, PhD

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

The crucial leadership lesson I have learned is to be flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. As a leader, we should be open to new ideas, flexible in dealing with issues when things don’t go as planned, and generally able to cope with adversity. Also, an adaptable leader should be able to motivate and inspire to lead a team.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

My most important career achievement was getting my PhD in particle physics. I had a wonderful opportunity to understand the fundamental particles of nature and the interactions that govern their behavior while working with researchers from the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (CERN in Geneva, Switzerland). I learned how to perform various tasks and thus acquired new skills. These include problem-solving, critical reasoning, thinking in-depth, organization and planning, resilience, and the ability to design, lead and carry out projects. The skills I gained while doing my PhD helped me be an independent researcher and develop expertise in my field.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

In my graduate study, I worked with scientists from Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland) on understanding and upgrading a part of the readout electronics of the pixel detector of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment. I was interested in broadening my work in electronics and learning more about designing pixel detectors for particle physics experiments, so I joined a post-doctorate program at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. When I was there, my work was to optimize the charge collection efficiency for pixel sensors for the Mu3e. To share my knowledge, I teach physics courses. As an educator, I support them in understanding the subject and watch them develop their skills. It feels rewarding to see students succeed at something they previously struggled with and have a sense of accomplishment.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

I recently joined the Philadelphia Chapter of AWIS (AWIS-PHL). I look forward to conducting a workshop for PAGES as a part of an outreach program on behalf of AWIS-PHL. It will help me professionally.

What is your favorite word?

Resilience

How do you define it?

Resilience is the skill to adapt and to overcome challenges in life. A person can cultivate this skill by learning from their mistakes.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

As an underrepresented person in physics, it was challenging to show that I am just as capable as my male counterparts in problem-solving and critical thinking. Having a sense of belonging in higher education was quite challenging; however, my belief in being resilient helped me face the challenges and move forward to achieve my goal.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

The best professional advice that I received was from one of my mentors. She said, “Always learn to welcome feedback.” Feedback is about listening actively to think of the best possible solution. Feedback is crucial in education because teachers and students can adopt new knowledge and avoid repetitive mistakes. When people learn from their mistakes by communicating with each other, they become better. “Becoming better” means individuals improve and develop their technical skills, creating a healthy environment for honest communication.  

Shruti Shrestha, PhD, is an Assistant Teaching Professor of Physics at Penn State Brandywine. Her research interest includes searching for new phenomena beyond the SM (Standard Model), like the candidates for non-baryonic dark matter. She also works for the non-profit organization TechGirlz and Explore STEM Philly. She conducts free STEM workshops for middle and high school students to inspire them to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.