Monday, 30th October 2017

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Doctoral student at 15

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By MALINI BANERJEE
  • Published 30.08.09
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Mohammad Ali Aamir, 15, is losing sleep over physics. But unlike with other boys his age, it isn’t Class X problems. It’s condensed matter physics, which he is tackling as part of his integrated PhD course at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, with 13 of India’s brightest as his batchmates.

So focussed is Aamir on his work that he couldn’t make it to Science City on Saturday to receive a special honour at The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence for academic excellence by a student.

“Just as soon as I attained consciousness I knew I wanted to be a scientist,” laughs Aamir over phone from Bangalore. His father Aftab Badruddin, a government officer, remembers Aamir at four would “solve problems meant for students of Class IV and V”.

Badruddin came on stage to accept the award for his son. “He makes me proud every day. I pray he keeps it up,” said the proud father to a stunned audience.

Aamir wasn’t sent to school. He studied mostly science subjects at home. “I don’t think I missed out on anything,” he feels.

When Aamir started solving Plus Two level calculus, his father decided to enrol him for board exams. “He was nine and all the boards had an age bar. So I approached British Council and found out that five ‘O’ Levels and two ‘A’ Levels are equivalent to passing Class XII,” says Badruddin.

Aamir was only 12 when he sailed through ‘A’ Level physics. That year, Aamir enrolled in physics honours at St Xavier’s College after an interview with the professors. “I learnt a lot there,” he says. His friends say Aamir used to be an introvert, but opened up later.

Then Aamir, barely 15, qualified for MSc at IIT Kanpur with an all-India rank of 21 in the Joint Entrance Exams and ranked fourth in the merit list for the Integrated PhD in physical sciences at IISC.

And what does he do to relax? “When I’m studying something and I understand it without it becoming a heavy load, I enjoy that,” says the Stephen Hawking fan.