Nabin K. Malakar, Ph.D.

I am a computational physicist working on societal applications of machine-learning techniques.

Research Links

My research interests span multi-disciplinary fields involving Societal applications of Machine Learning, Decision-theoretic approach to automated Experimental Design, Bayesian statistical data analysis and signal processing.


Interested about the picture? Autonomous experimental design allows us to answer the question of where to take the measurements. More about it is here...


I addition to the research, I also like to hike, bike, read and play with water color.

Thanks for the visit. Please feel free to visit my Weblogs.

Welcome to Please visit again.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

#AMS2015, January 04 - 08, 2015 Phoenix, AZ #conference @ametsoc

Data fusion of Satellite AOD and WRF meteorology for improved PM25 estimation for northeast USA

Monday, 5 January 2015: 1:45 PM 
at Sixth Conference on Environment and Health)
228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Nabin Malakar, City College of New York, New York, NY; and L. Cordero, B. Gross, D. Vidal, and F. Moshary
The current approach to ingesting satellite data (IDEA- Infusing satellite Data into Environmental air quality Applications Product) into surface PM2.5 retrievals uses a combination of spatial interpolation and a global geo-chemical model (GEOS-CHEM) to define appropriate mass to AOD factor maps that can be used with satellite AOD retreivals. This information is then statistically blended with current AIRNow measurements creating a refined retrieval product. In this paper, we propose to use the same approach except that we replace the GEOS-CHEM component with an alternative high resolution meteorological model scheme. In particular, we illustrate that the GEOS-CHEM factors can be strongly biased and explore methods that incorporate a combination of satellite AOD retrievals with WRF meteorological forecasts on a regional scale. We find that although PBL height should be a significant factor, the WRF model uncertainties for PBL height in comparison to Calipso make this factor less reliable. More directly we find that the covarying PBL averaged temperature (together with wind direction) are the most important factors. Direct statistical comparisons are made against the IDEA product showing the utility of this approach over regional scales. In addition, we explore the importance of a number of factors including season and time averaging showing that the satellite approach improves significantly as the time averaging window decreases illustrating the potential impact that GOES-R will have on PM25 estimation.

Fusing Spatial Kriging with Satellite Estimates to Obtain a Regional Estimation of PM2.5

Daniel Vidal, City College of New York, New York, NY; and B. Gross, N. Malakar, and L. Cordero
This work focuses on developing estimates of ground-level fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the northeastern U.S. based on measurements derived from the Air Quality System (AQS) repository. Real time monitoring of PM2.5 is important due to its effect on climate change and human health, however, designated samplers used by state agencies do not provide optimal spatial coverage given their high cost and extensive human labor dependence. Through the application of remote sensing instruments, information about PM2.5 concentrations can be generated at certain locations. On the other hand, coverage limitation also occurs when using satellite remote sensing methods due to atmospheric conditions. Therefore, our approach begins by utilizing surface PM2.5 measurements collected from the Remote Sensing Information Gateway (RSIG) portal in order to build fine particulate matter estimations by applying a Spatial Kriging technique. Then, we combine our Kriging estimations to the satellite derived PM2.5 obtained through an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) scheme to generate a daily regional PM2.5 product. Finally, evaluation of our fused algorithm's technique is assessed by performing comparisons against Kriging and neural network individual performances, showing the promising value added by the combination of these two techniques in producing more accurate estimations of surface level PM2.5 over our region of interest.

This one is related to the award winning work by Daniel:

Analysis of New York City traffic data, land use, emissions and high resolution local meteorology for the prediction of neighborhood scale intra-urban PM2.5 and O3
Monday, 5 January 2015: 4:30 PM 

at Sixth Conference on Environment and Health)
228AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Chowdhary Nazmi, NOAA/CREST/City College, New York, NY; and N. Malakar, L. Cordero, and B. Gross
Air pollution affects the health and well-being of residents of mega cities like New York. Predicting the air pollutant concentration throughout the city can be difficult because the sources and levels of the pollutants can vary from season to season. Local meteorology, traffic and land use also play an important role in these variations and the use of statistical machine learning tools such as Neural Networks can be very useful. In order to develop a Neural Network for the prediction of intra-urban air pollutants (PM2.5, O3), high resolution local data are collected and analyzed. Surface level high resolution temperature, relative humidity and wind speed data are collected from the CCNY METNET network. Annual average daily traffic data from NYMTC model as well as continuous and short count traffic data are collected from NYSDOT. High density data from NYC Community Air Survey model is used to analyze the relationship between background and street level indicators for PM2.5 and O3. All the variables (meteorology, population, traffic, land use etc) are ranked according to the absolute strength of their correlation with the measured pollutants and highest ranking variables are identified to be used for the development of a Neural Network. An analysis of how street level pollution differs from background AIRNow observations will be made showing the importance of high density observations. The potential to use the model in other urban areas will also be explored.

Having now relocated to NASA JPL, it is fun to reflect back to see what was accomplished during my stay at CCNY.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Presented in the AGU 2014, San Francisco, CA

  • GC51D-0460Ingesting Land Surface Temperature differences to improve Downwelling Solar Radiation using Artificial Neural Network: A Case Study
  • In order to study the effects of global climate change on regional scales, we need high resolution models that can be injected into local ecosystem models. Although the injection of regional Meteorological Models such as Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) can be attempted where the Global Circulation Model (GCM) conditions and the forecasted land surface properties are encoded into future time slices - this approach is extremely computer intensive.
    We present a two-step mechanism in which low resolution meteorological data including both surface and column integrated parameters are combined with high resolution land surface classification parameters to improve on purely interpolative approaches by using machine learning techniques. In particular, we explore the improvement of surface radiation estimates critical for ecosystem modeling by combining both model and satellite based surface radiation together with land surface temperature differences.

    Nabin Malakar - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    Mark Bailey
    CUNY City College
    Rebecca Latto
    CUNY City College
    Emmanuel Ekwedike
    CUNY City College
    Barry Gross
    CUNY City College
    Jorge Gonzalez
    CUNY City College
    Charles Vorosmarty
    CUNY City College
    Glynn Hulley - NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

    A51B-3024Bias Correction of MODIS AOD using DragonNET to obtain improved estimation of PM2.5

MODIS AOD retreivals using the Dark Target algorithm is strongly affected by the underlying surface reflection properties. In particular, the operational algorithms make use of surface parameterizations trained on global datasets and therefore do not account properly for urban surface differences. This parameterization continues to show an underestimation of the surface reflection which results in a general over-biasing in AOD retrievals. Recent results using the Dragon-Network datasets as well as high resolution retrievals in the NYC area illustrate that this is even more significant at the newest C006 3 km retrievals. In the past, we used AERONET observation in the City College to obtain bias-corrected AOD, but the homogeneity assumptions using only one site for the region is clearly an issue. On the other hand, DragonNET observations provide ample opportunities to obtain better tuning the surface corrections while also providing better statistical validation. In this study we present a neural network method to obtain bias correction of the MODIS AOD using multiple factors including surface reflectivity at 2130nm, sun-view geometrical factors and land-class information. These corrected AOD’s are then used together with additional WRF meteorological factors to improve estimates of PM2.5. Efforts to explore the portability to other urban areas will be discussed. In addition, annual surface ratio maps will be developed illustrating that among the land classes, the urban pixels constitute the largest deviations from the operational model.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Daniel Vidal (CCNY, CUNY) Wins first prize

One of my undergraduate student, Daniel Vidal from the City College of New York, has come first in the final round of the technical paper competition in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) conference in Detroit, Michigan.

Congratulations to Daniel! 


The work was based upon
and our collaboration over the summer. We expanded the prototype to the northeast, and got nice results.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Presented at IGARSS 2014, Quebec, Canada

This week I attended the joint International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS 2014) / 35th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing (35th CSRS).  The symposium theme was “Energy and our Changing Planet”.

ON Friday I presented my work on:
Assessing MODIS C006 urban corrections using the High Resolution Dragon AERONET Network

The slides are embedded below for viewing:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

An Interview with Dr. Churamani Gaire

Dr. Churamani Gaire, from Syangja, Nepal,  shares fond memories of the school days, teachers and mentors. He also shares his experience in joining the semiconductor industry as he is currently working as Principal Process Engineer at GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  It is our pleasure to have him in my frame of reference.

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in an economically subaltern farming family in Kuwakot-8, Syangja. I went to local school (Now Bhanu Higher Secondary School, Chaughera, Syangja), where I learned Nepali and English alphabets from my teachers Durga Pangeni and Hari Bdr Ale, respectively. I completed high school from Keware (Now Bal Siddha Higher Secondary School), Syangja. I then continued my undergraduates at Prithvi Narayan College, Pokhara and Masters in Physics at Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur. Having to answer this question makes me a bit nostalgic of all the fond memories.
My research interest is in the nanotechnology. My professional profile is in LinkedIn:
My research activities are disseminated in various journals and conference proceedings and are available for public consumption:
How did you decide to study physics? Did anyone, in particular, influence you?
I was shy as a child and did not know what I was up to. Growing up, I used to carve tops and toy cars out of wood and play. By high school time, it was clear to me that I was more into mathematics and physical sciences than other subjects. I was privileged to have great teachers like Bhoj Raj Gurung and Babu Ram Sharma in High School, Namo Narayan Yadav, Pabitra Mani Poudel and Binay Kumar Jha in Undergraduates; Devendra Raj Mishra and Shekhar Gurung in my Masters. I have the highest regard to Babu Ram Sharma, Binay Kumar Jha and Shekhar Gurung for their support I got during my high school and college times. While I recall these great names today, it is Guru-Purnima, and I salute these great teachers and mentors on this occasion.
What strategies did you use to be successful in college? Please give out some tips on how to become a successful student in Nepal?
My strategy was to attend all the classes, go through the subject material more than once, note down the areas of weakness and focus on those items in the next iteration of study. In my opinion, one has to develop his/her own style. There is no universally applicable strategy per se. However, my biggest tip to the Nepalese students would be to not waste their time by going to political pep-rallies and become puppets of political parties.
Could you also describe your academic and research journey in USA? What are the challenges for Nepalese students?
I started my graduate study from University at Albany in theoretical physics. I later transferred to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), due to a better match to my academic interest. I conducted my graduate research in nanoscale growth and characterization of semiconducting materials. After my graduation, I continued my research at RPI and developed strategy to grow near single crystal semiconductor material starting from amorphous substrate suitable for low-cost energy application. 
As regard to the challenges, it's the initial first few months when one is trying to adjust with so many new things: new place, new education system and some language barrier. Back in the country, our focus was more on theoretical than experimental physics. So, if you want to pursue theoretical physics in USA, I think you can immediately choose a research group and start contributing towards your graduate dissertation. However, if you want to pursue experimental physics, it takes one-to-two semesters before you can contribute towards your graduate dissertation. Again, it varies from person to person. I believe that Nepalese graduates are capable of competing with international graduates.
Could you please suggest the practical applications of your research outcomes? Do you have a favorite research paper (written by yourself or somebody else)?
My research was about nano-heteroepitaxial growth of near single crystal semiconductor material starting from amorphous substrate. This is applicable in substrate fabrication for low-costing solar cells. I use epitaxial growth method in my current job to create individual transistor units used in computer chips. My publications done during my graduate school are in the public domain and are available for your viewing pleasure as I mentioned earlier. Instead of me saying which of my articles I like, I will leave that option to the public to judge. However, I shall say some of my papers are cited more than the others by the researchers in the field.
How is your experience in joining the Industry? Was there any culture shock for an academician? Or shall a PhD holder expect any difference?
Definitely there is a bit of culture shock. I find rather interesting differences in academia and high-tech industry. Industry has more stringent requirements for deadlines. Your decisions can make immediate financial impact on the order of 10s of millions of dollars. To this end, I would say both the risk and reward are much higher in the high tech industry. And whether you have a PhD or not does not make much difference in the industry, your abilities are judged through whether you can solve problems efficiently and precisely and deliver the solution or not. Nevertheless, the rigorous training process that you have gone through during your PhD definitely prepares you for the rigorousness required in the industry.
A general perception is that industry experience is very demanding. Could you please give us a snapshot of your one day in office?
Yes, you are correct that the industry is very demanding due to short shelf-life of technology. One has to constantly update the new things that are in the market, and stay up to date with the technology challenges and solutions.
I work in semiconductor foundry and own a critical process responsible for transistor performance. On my typical day, I have to fulfill three kinds of major responsibilities and generally attend/prepare for 5-6 meetings a day to:
  • Ensure that there are no problems in my process step from both process and hardware aspects. If there are problems, resolve immediately.
  • Ensure that internal and external customer demands are met. Internal customers include integration and device team who are constantly looking for new processes and recipes to improve the overall flow. The external customers are real customers who I have to engage time to time and ensure they are comfortable working with us.
  • Ensure that we offer improved process to our internal and external customers. We constantly conduct experiments to improve our process. We analyze/interpret data and feed-forward the learning to next cycle, a process we call “continuous improvement process”. 
What have you found to be the toughest aspect of being a physicist, if any?
The job hunting was the toughest part as a physicist.
Which of the skills are strongly recommended for the job hunters in this field?
In my opinion, strong communication skill, data analysis/interpretation and decision making ability are some of the key items recruiters are looking in new hires.
Sir, since I am not a professional interviewer, would you like to add anything else? Thank you for your time!
I am afraid your questions are more professional than my answers. I commend you for your effort. And I wish you for your continuous success as blogger in the future. Thanks very much.


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Interview with Dr. Dipak Rimal

Dr. Dipak Rimal recently defended his PhD in experimental nuclear physics, and joined a post-doctoral research associate position at the University of Florida. He was born and raised in Baigundhura VDC in south-eastern part of Nepal. We are pleased to have Dr. Rimal in my frame of reference!

Please tell us about yourself, and your journey to USA for higher education.
I was born and raised in Baigundhura VDC in south-eastern part of Nepal. My father was a local educator, and had a great appreciation for science and technology. His constant motivation and inspiration lead me to pursue higher education in science. After passing the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) exam from Shree Amar Madhyamik Vidhyalaya in 1995, I went to Birat Science College, Biratnagar to study science (I. Sc.). I then went to Tri-Chandra College for Bachelor's degree. Since I graduated as a physics major with minor in chemistry and math, I got admitted to the Central Department of Physics (CDP), Tribhuvan University for M. Sc. in Physics. After graduating, I taught undergraduate level physics courses at Xavier Academy, Lazimpat for two years. In the fall of 2007, I moved to Miami after I got admitted into the PhD program at the Department of Physics at Florida International University. I recently graduated from FIU with PhD in physics specializing in experimental nuclear physics.
Could you please describe your PhD research in plain English. (Einstein once said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”)
My PhD research was in the field of experimental nuclear physics. My research was primarily focused on expanding our understanding of the electromagnetic (EM) form factors of the proton, the positively charged core of the hydrogen atom. The EM form factors of the proton are the most fundamental observables, which encode information about the charge and magnetization distribution inside it. Even though the proton has been studied for several decades, a lot remains to be understood about the electromagnetic form factors in order to completely understand the structure of the proton. A significant discrepancy exists between the results from unpolarized and polarized electron scattering measurements of the EM form factors. This discrepancy casts a serious doubt on our understanding of the proton electromagnetic form factors and also on several other observables derived from these form factors (for e.g. proton charge radius). I don’t want to go into details here but plausible theoretical explanations for the cause of this discrepancy have been proposed. Rigorous experimental tests are necessary to make a definitive statement about these explanations. In short, my research was focused on the experimental test of the proposed theoretical explanations.Our team produced an intense matter/anti-matter mixed beam (electron/positron) from a 5.6 GeV primary electron beam at Jefferson Lab. Ordinarily, the matter and anti-matter particles would annihilate releasing the energy in the form of photon. To keep the particles intact, the electrons and positrons were spread over a distance of a few centimeters. The mixed matter/anti-matter beam was then scattered from a liquid hydrogen target, kept at the center of a giant spectrometer known as CEBAF Large Acceptance Spectrometer (CLAS). The elastically scattered electron, positron, and the proton were detected in CLAS. The detected particles were then analyzed to compare the positron-proton and electron-proton interactions.
What are the social applications of your research/ short-term or long-term impact of your research to the society.
My research, being a fundamental science research, may not have immediate social applications. However, in the long run it will reshape the way the electron scattering data is analyzed. My research was intended to test theoretical explanations for the discrepancy between different methods of measuring the charge distribution inside proton. These results will help make a definitive statement about the explanation for a decade long scientific puzzle.
How was your graduate school experience? (Specifically skill(s) you needed to sharpen etc.)
My graduate school experience at FIU has been memorable one. Since we had a lot of fellow Nepali graduate students in the department, the physics department at FIU felt like a second home. I feel lucky that I had an excellent advisor who provided me an opportunity to work in a large international collaboration comprising of scientists from all over the world. I had to learn UNIX/LINUX operating systems, and learn programming languages. I also had to sharpen my problem solving and experimental skills.
Please share few useful tips that you wish you were told when you applied for PhD.
I wish I had learned at least one programming language before I applied for PhD. I wish I was told to learn problem-solving rather than memorizing physics derivations.
Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? What are your hobbies, and spare time activities?
Umm! This one is the hardest one. I don’t really know! I just started working as a post-doctoral research associate at University of Florida. I will be working on MINERvA neutrino experiment at Fermilab to investigate neutrino-nucleus interactions. Let’s see how next 5 years unfold but I definitely want to see myself in a pretty good shape in terms of research. Regarding hobbies, I enjoy visiting new places. I follow world news to keep myself up to date with the recent happenings around the globe. I am also a big time sports fan. In the spare time, I enjoy watching professional leagues and college sports.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Monitoring in-situ PM2.5 in NYC metro area using #matlab #trendy

Matlab's Trendy feature can be used to monitor and collect hourly air quality station data directly from the source url. The data can be feed into the trendy app using the urlfilter and updatetrend commands.

Here is the basic code that gets the job done for the CCNY location. If you are interested to get multiple data, just append it to the update trend array:
% Get the data from CCNY, update the trendy
url = '';
count = urlfilter(url, 'PM25C'); % reading
PMccny = count; % PM at CCNY
The Trendy then can be used to plot the gathered data. I had to let it gather data for few days before I could plot some nice trends. You can already see the diurnal variation in the data below.
PM2.5 trend in NYC. If the image is not available, follow the link below.
The plots can be made with the following code (the time and data will be different for your code):
% PM2.5 hourly measurements in CCNY
%   time vector is: time2322
%   data vector is: data2322
plot(time2322,data2322, 'o-');
hleg = legend('PM2.5(ug/m3)', 'Location', 'SouthWest');
set(hleg, 'FontSize', 8);
title('Air Quality at CCNY station');
I can also set up an email alert if the PM2.5 reading gets higher than some threshold, say 35ugm/m3. Now you can think about the useful applications of such tools!!

Update: well, it has been deprecated! and replaced with "trendy"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Interview with Dr. Amit Dongol

Born and raised in Biratnagar, Nepal, Dr. Amit Dongol recently defended his PhD from Physics Department at University of Cincinnati, OH, USA. He will be starting a new job in INTEL from next month.   We present a brief chat with Dr. Dongol. He can be reached on LinkedIn at, and also maintains a nice personal website .

0. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Biratnagar, Nepal. I had my SLC exam from Jaycee Bal Sadan, Biratnagar, Nepal. For higher studies (I.Sc and B.Sc physics) I went to Mahendra Morang Adarsha Multiple Campus at Biratnagar. I did my Master in Physics from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Nepal. I was also actively involved in family business of photography and I love taking pictures.Recently I have also reviewed a LabView book for Packt Publication. It is a nice book if anyone is interested in learning and building a research lab for software and hardware automation. The name of a book is LabView Graphical Programming Cookbook authored by Yik Yang.

1. How did you decide to study physics?  Did anyone, in particular, influence you?
Being good in math, logical thinking and electronics/computer made me decide to study physics. My elder brother (Raja Dongol) helped me to figure out what to study further in the area of my interest.

2. Could you also describe your academic and research journey in USA? What are the challenges for Nepalese students?
I came to USA with my Wife (Pooja Shrestha). She got her admission for PhD at University of Cincinnati. Soon after one year I also joined a PhD program at University of Cincinnati and got through qualifier exam immediately and joined a research group in computational biophysics. I worked for about one year in the field studying proteins using coarse-grain GO-model. After that I started working in experimental condensed matter physics in the field of nonlinear optics and completed my PhD..The challenges depend upon the individuals, how serious and how well he/she prepares for the challenges. Nothing is impossible, just need to have positive thinking and positive doing blended with hard working and always willing to learn and adapt the situation. If the (TU) courses were to be slightly modified with problem solving strategies and more like real practical problem solving, it would be very helpful to prepare ourselves for education system abroad. It also helps better in cognitive thinking. The challenges are also rewarding.  

3. Could you please describe your thesis in plain English?
My research is mainly focused on characterizing a quantum well sample using femtosecond pulsed laser. The technique I used is called Four-Wave Mixing (FWM) process that involves at-least two or more pulsed laser. The main goal of the research is to study the exciton, electron grating, and exciton grating formed in a quantum well responsible for fast responsive and highly sensitive real-time holographic imaging.

4.  Could you please suggest the practical applications of your research outcomes? Do you have a favorite research paper (written by yourself or somebody else)?
My research goal is to characterize and optimize the II-VI/III-V quantum well sample for the purpose of Real-time holographic imaging called Optical Coherence Imaging (OCI). The potential of the OCI is to image an object concealed behind the turbid media and sensitive enough to image a few 10’s of micron sized object or living organism.

5. Which of the skills are strongly recommended for the job hunters in this field?
I would say learn everything that you could and there is nothing that you should not learn. If you get an opportunity to learn then don’t let it slide. Good experimental hands (if you are experimentalist) and clever logical thinking (for computational programming) with depth knowledge of the subject and instruments is always required. If you are an experimentalist then you should learn one of the hardware controlling softwares. I would recommend LabView because it is one of the most widely used software where you can make your own software or whole package of applications integrating multiple tools and devices together according to your need of your research. This will really boost your resume and lots of job requires the knowledge of this software. For computational people there are so many things around. It does not matter what you do in the field but atleast you need to have commanding knowledge in at-least one or more programming language like, C, C++, C#, perl, Gromacs, Mathematica, Matlab  and many more. Now a days CUDA (a GPU) programming is one of the most rising and demanding to my knowledge. I would recommend it to have this knowledge and skills. I wouldn't say that this is enough but if you can and opportunity provides then learn everything you can. In my case addition to these being able to design and build a website for my research group and making a file server and maintaining also helped me to impress my job interviewer. Being active in social and community services also adds up. There is no one factor but its a whole package I would say.

6. Would you like to add anything else?
Learn whatever you can and its never late to start new things. There is a saying in our society “नजाने गाँउको बाटो नसोध्नु” and I believe this is completely wrong.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

PM2.5 and O3 dense ground observation in NYC summer

My research involves use of in-situ data, satellite remote sensing data infused with the meteorological information, and application of machine learning techniques to obtain improved estimates of PM2.5. Broadly, my current project involves climate and air quality research, and I have worked with wide variety of model and remote sensing data.

This post is concerned about the dense urban observation in the summer database collected over the New York City over the years 2009-2012.
This database gives insights into the PM2.5 and O3 concentration in the urban setting. Specifically for New York City where these pollutants can affect about 8 million people. Two figures from summer 2010 are presented below showing the relative concentrations in reference to the background EPA measurements binned over the 15-day measurement period. The densely populated area show increased PM2.5 (ug/m3), while decreased O3 concentrations (ppb).  Some interesting geo-chemistry going on! 

Monday, May 19, 2014

An interview with Dr. Mukti Aryal

We present a candid interview with Dr. Mukti Aryal!!
Born in a remote village of Nepal, Dr. Aryal's journey has inspirational stories as he represents one of the best achievers among the Nepalese physicists.
Please read on!

Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself? (Where did you grow up, where and studied etc.) 
Thank you for this interview Nabin ji, I appreciate it. This is a good opportunity to share my academic experiences, and about myself. I was born in Darlamchaur, Isma Gulmi; a hilly region in western Nepal. I am from farmer’s family, one among nine kids of my parents. Most small farmers like us used to hardly make their living from farming. However, since my father was an elementary school teacher in our village, we had an additional income. That means we had a little more comfortable living since my father was educated and that’s why my parents were very much aware of importance of education. In my time, most parents in my village were either unaware of importance of education or they would require their kids to help them in the farms. Most kids used to help their parents in household work such as taking care of cows, buffaloes, cutting grasses, chasing monkeys from corn field etc. while I did take part in such activities and farming only in the morning and evening or in my free time. I was curious and very disciplined in school and used to do my homework regularly. After I passed grade five I had to help my parents at home and left school for one year. I started again after my eldest brother got married and my sister-in-law came to help at home. After that I continued my education and I was doing excellent in my study from very beginning. I am a PhD now and I want to say to school kids from village of Nepal who are barely getting chance to go to school: kids! You can do it as I did! I did my primary school (1-3 grade) nearby my home (15 minutes’ walk), sitting in the lawn under open sky with two teachers and one of them was my father. Middle school was about 1 hour walking but had to leave home for grade 8 and up. I did my high school, SLC from Mahendra Ma. Vi. Tamghas, Gulmi in 2045 B.S; I. Sc. from Tansen Palpa, neighboring district; B.Sc. from Tri-Chandra College Kathmandu; master in Physics from TU Kritipur and finally I did my PhD from University of Texas at Dallas in 2010. After PhD, I went to University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill for post doc and finally I am here in California for industrial job working as a process engineer/research scientist. 
What was your aim in life as a teenager? How did you decide to study science and then physics? Did anyone, in particular, influence you? 
You probably meant professional aim. As a son of a farmer and a teacher, I had an aim to be a good teacher and a good farmer following the footpath of my father. Every kid is naturally curious. However, unknowingly parents or elders kill the curiosity by discouraging them from asking questions and stopping them from exploring things. That did not happened to me, instead my mom used to keep interest about what I read at school, wanted to know the stories from my books while she was illiterate. I was always among top students in class so I was advised to take science and major math in high school. One of my elective subjects was Agriculture. It was exciting because I wanted to be a good teacher and a farmer. In school, I learned that traditional agriculture system was one of the main reasons for poverty of villagers. I and my elder brother and classmate Baburam were working together in farm to grow better. We really set example of good farming growing crops in our fields using knowledge learned in class at that time. My science teacher in high school once suggested to take science major in college and I liked that idea. There was no science college in Gulmi district at that time. I went Tansen Papla to study science. However, first college degree in science major (I. Sc.) was very tough for me and it is tough for anyone whose SLC is from government school where courses are taught in Nepali medium. Some of my schoolmates dropped science because they were not coming for their own but were sent by parents. I had no choice but success because study science was my choice not my parents’. I had determination so I was patient and I could complete I. Sc. in physics and mathematics. As a scientist, of course, I advocate science. For new generation I would like to say that I. Sc. was my greatest achievement and a financial freedom. I. Sc. was my reason for financial freedom because I was not dependent on my parents anymore. For the first time I felt like I could stand in my own feet. This is because it was relatively easy to get teaching job after I. Sc. at that time. I might not find one where I wanted to, but there were so many schools looking for math and science teachers in Nepal at that time. Even now, if you want to go villages or remote areas you can get job after I. Sc. This can be a very good reason for one to study science. This should be the real motivation for science major. There are still more chances of getting teaching jobs for science major than other subjects. If one has more choices, or one thinks that he can get job s/he could gain a lot of courage to move forward and courage to take risk that applied to me as well. Though my parents were not able to support my further education, I came to Kathmandu to see if I could still survive and peruse my education. Otherwise I would take a break for teaching to make money for my study. Therefore, I strongly recommend young generation to start college with science major. If you succeed, you have so many doors open. You can always change your mind and move to arts and commerce, you can find teaching job in schools, you can do tutoring to high school kids and so on. Moreover, you can understand basic principle of natural phenomenon. Finally, science major led me to physics. Physics is a beautiful subjects as we get chance to understand the nature and express natural laws in mathematical relations. It requires a lot of thinking. I used to love to read literatures but that I would understand without much effort and without taking any classes. Physics requires brain exercise and more I read it more I get interested. Moreover, I study physics as I saw more chances of getting job after graduation in physics. 
Sounds like you worked and studied together. So, how did you balance work and study? How did you succeed? 
If there is a will, there is a way. I came to Kathmandu for my bachelor’s degree in science (B.Sc.). Sometime teaching in boarding school, sometime tutoring math and science to high school kids I managed to work and study. Sometime I had to skip my classes for work. The day I completed my B. Sc., my confidence level reached to the highest level. I was encouraged by my own success; I was interested in reading by more reading. Nothing extraordinary, I just kept doing and I think this is the key to success. I wanted to continue my study to master’s in physics. By that time my professional aim was changed and I wanted to be a physics professor in a university in Nepal. Obviously I had to work and study for my master as well and this time I had to support my younger brother too! As you know Master level courses in physics are very tough in Nepal. Basically, we learned taking classes but that was not enough. Discussions among friends, collections of old questions and solving them in groups, sharing class note among friends and finally memorizing formulas and equations were major strategies to succeed the Tribhuvan University comprehensive exam, which is very tough annual exam. I would suggest to new generations not to panic if you don’t understand at first, continue to ask and discuss with friends. Our teachers are so helpful, take full advantage and success is in your hands. After you succeed there in Nepal, you can compete with anybody in the world. All graduate from Nepal are doing excellent around the globe. Data show that they are doing equal or better than the students from anywhere else. 
You said that you wanted to become a physics professor in Nepal. What makes you come to USA?
Well, it did not go as I thought. TU did not open professors’ positions for long time. I was mostly teaching in English boarding school and as a part-time lecturer in TU. Though one could get teaching position after MSc, a PhD would be recommended and most of physics professors in TU were PhD holders. To that front, I was looking for options for further education as well. The trend to come to USA for further study was just about there. I was in contact with Dr. Jagat Shakya and Dr. Naveen Jha who were already in USA. I was not sure I would be able to come but just took TOEFL exam and applied a couple of places. I got admission with scholarship at Minnesota State University and got visa. To get chance to come to USA was considered a good option and I had no many choices. So, I came for master program in physics to USA in 2003. Nowadays, it is a lot easier. There are a lot of Nepalese around the globe now; you can find information in Nepali Physicists around the globe in this website here Thank you Nabin ji and team for this good work. I really appreciate your effort. Internet access is easy nowadays, you can get connected via email, facebook, linkedin, twitter and most of the time you can get response instantly. My advice to new generation is that please take full advantage of it. 
Could you please tell us about your research interest. 
I came to USA in 2003 and started first research at Minnesota State University, Mankato Minnesota in 2004. There I learned about doing research by preparing high temperature ceramic super conducting samples, used X-ray powder diffraction and measured its magnetic and heat capacity etc. My PhD research in UT Dallas was about organic solar cells (plastic solar power) which have potential for low cost production and the flexibility would enable the solar to wrap around any types of curved surfaces like clothing, cars etc. Another area of my expertise is nanofabrication of photonic structures. In my post-doctoral research I was able to fabricate photonic nanostructures of the butterfly wings, that are consider most complex structures in nature. Using low cost method, there I demonstrated that the current engineering technology was capable for mimicking the most complicated photonic structures in nature. These photonic structures have several uses such as black wings for maximum light absorption, other colors for chemical sensing, bank note counterfeiting etc. 
My publications can be found in
 Linkedin page 

What strategies did you use to be successful in research, Any advice? 
There were challenges and opportunities to succeed and do research of my interest. To choose a professor and a research topic is challenging and the success determines future career. It may be helpful for beginner researchers if I go over a little bit detail on this. The choice of research topics depend on several factors: research interest, availability of research and vacancies with the professor etc. I think it is important to think what you want to do after graduation. I chose a research which could open doors for industries and academia so that it might be easier to find a job after graduation. As I understand today, the research skills such as sample preparations and characterizations are more important than the research topic itself in industrial jobs. Academia needs more publications and in depth understanding of the topic and creative ideas. I got interested in solar energy, best renewable energy alternative to current fossil fuels and coals. There have been solar power in the market but expensive to replace traditional electric powers such as hydroelectricity and fossil fuels power plants. My research focused on plastic solar cells as mentioned earlier. The best part of my research was I could learn nanotechnology, nanostructure fabrication and characterization and other related skills that could fit for academia and industries. My research helps in fundamental understanding of conducting polymer. Let me tell you about plastic solar cells. In high school, we learned that plastics are bad conductors. First conducting polymer was discovered by Nobel laurel Alen Heeger and his team in 1990s. Research in plastic solar cells was a hot topic when I was about to start my PhD research. Plastic solar cells have potential for low cost but their efficiency is poor. One way to improve efficiency was by controlling nanostructure morphology. In that front, my group pioneered in nanostructured organic solar cells that I proved that nanostructured morphology can be controlled by nanoimprinting. I presented my research in MRS Fall meeting in 2008. This was my first conference presentation that happened in front of large audiences where one of which was Nobel Prize winner Prof. Alen Heeger, all seats were full and people were standing on back of the room. I published my first paper in 2008 which is cited 76 times as of today. The excitement was high in the beginning. The efficiency of organic solar cells at that time was about 5% and we were hoping to reach 10% with our techniques. However, there are always likely to have ups and downs in research. Likewise, the efficiency of our cells was much lower than we expected. Again, I did not give up but continued to explore the reasons behind the low performances. Around that time I found an interview by Alen Heeger on conducting polymer. At the end of interview on the question of long term goal, Dr. Heeger said (2nd last paragraph): “Polymer chains are disordered like cooked spaghetti noodles , what you really want, if you want very high performance, is more like spaghetti in the box before you cook it.” I started looking if I can really do that. Finally, I was able to show that that can possibly happened by the technique we were using to fabricate organic solar cells. All I needed to show was, that was really happening. In 2009, I published a paper on polymer chain alignment, which is my biggest contribution in understanding of fundamental polymer science. This paper attracted many researchers around the world (cited 122 times). We wrote a review in the topic after that. Very recently I contributed in a paper published on the similar topic in April 2014. This is how my PhD was so exciting and fun. My PhD advisor is Prof. Walter Hu who thinks that Nepalese students are very bright. After my PhD, I moved to University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill, North Carolina for new challenges and opportunities. My postdoctoral research was also nanostructured organic solar cells but this time the focus was to maximize the light absorption. The concept of national science foundation (NSF) funded project was to mimic black spot of butterfly wings and utilized it in solar cells for maximum light absorption to increase solar cells efficiency. As a nanofabrication expert, I had given a most challenging part of the project to mimic the butterfly wings photonic structures or fabricate the similar nanostructures of butterfly wings. These structures are of interest since 1970 after Helen Ghiradella, a pioneer in this field Now the topic is interested to physicists and engineers see examples here  However, the research is conducted using natural wings of butterfly and nobody even knew if the current engineering technology is able to mimic such complex photonic structures in nature. After several failure and frustrations, most exciting time finally came. I was able to demonstrate that photonic nanostructures of the various butterfly wings can actually be fabricated using existing conventional engineering technology over large area in low cost. (Read my interview in Beneath the AVS Surface, Replicating Nature: A new method to mimic the light-manipulating properties of butterfly wings: in AVS highlight at In a very short period of time, I made breakthrough in my major project and made several outstanding contributions in the team. Since I left too early my post-doctoral research (left just after 1 year) to join a startup in California; So, I could not continue my research in that topic for more breakthroughs. 
How is your experience in joining Rolith, Inc. as a Process Engineer? Was there any culture shock in moving to industry?
Rolith Inc. is a startup nanotechnology company (see application page for here ). I am here almost from the beginning of the company. A startup company has to develop from the proof of concept to manufacturing level. Of course, a small company has limited resources and a fixed target as compare to research institute where one can have freedom for various researches and access to many instruments. Working in Rolith, a startup company is more or less similar to research institute with limited facilities and certain research goal. There was not any cultural sock for me after I moved from my postdoctoral research to Rolith. It is also because of my research interests. My research interests of nano-fabrications for various applications such as anti-reflecting surfaces etc. are well match with the interests of this company. After I joined Rolith Inc, I made some breakthroughs, contributed US patents and several conference papers. In academia I was highly appreciated by my PhD advisors, post-doctoral advisors and the people in the field. I could present in several conferences in front of large audiences. Here probably not as much, but I am happy from what I could contribute to the company for moving forward. 

 A general perception is that industry experience is very demanding. How do you balance life and work? 
It has been great so far! Though work hours are long, I don't need to work from home. While I am at home, I give time for my family. I live with my wife, a nine year old son and a five year old daughter. Evening time and weekends are mostly for family. I think a professor has to be much busier than an engineer in industry. We don't need to worry about a grant proposal, publications, and class preparation and so on. There are of course pros and cons in everywhere. For example university jobs are stable, while people tend to move frequently from one job to another in industries. 
 Could you please give us a snapshot of your one day in office? How much of table research versus the experimental work is involved? 
The short term and long term goal of the company are discussed in the meeting and the work is assigned for the week. As an employee my goal is to complete the assign tasks in timely manner, find the solution of the problem by designing experiments and performing them, and report the progress or difficulties in the meeting. Everyday is not the same but in general more time is assign for experimental work than literature search. Working hours are flexible but it’s about the feeling responsibility and performing as much as I can to complete the task. In general my office starts around 8:30 in the morning and end at 6 PM. In between, I come home for lunch as I live about 5 minutes’ drive. .
Could you please share one or two interesting ‘aha’ moments in your research career or industrial job? 
Yes, I can share a couple of interesting moments with you. In 2008, my team published concept paper of nanostructured organic solar (plastic solar) cells and we applied US patents as well. So there was lot of excitements. Pretty soon we realized that the efficiency was much lower than we expected. Life is full of ups and downs like sinusoidal curve. It happens almost everywhere in life. The best scenario was to get high efficiency but it was not happening. When I was trying to find the reason behind the unexpected results, I discovered a fundamental polymer behavior due to Nanoimprinting. At that moment I was so excited that then I could get a good publications and my PhD. Next moment I want to share that was happened when I was doing post doc at UNC. Several times I hoped to get pine tree structures similar to butterfly wings’ in the sample while observing under scanning electron microscope (SEM). It had not happened several times for long. It was November 2010 and I was imaging. I saw pine tree structures under microscope and I shouted and jumped high like a soccer player had made a goal! I was alone that time and right after I saw my co-worker at the door and I showed him the results. I and my team finally proved that we could fabricate most complex structures of nature, photonic structures of butterfly wings. 
The technology evolves fast, are the requirements and qualifications/experiences/skills for a new hire changing in the similar rate? Any words of wisdom for the new comers into the industry, or in general which kind of skill sets are on demand? 
Technology evolves fast is true and the requirements for new hire are also changing. However, the requirements for a new hire may not be changing in the similar rate. I think evolution of new technology is the results of mostly advancements in thoughts or creativities. In other words performance of new jobs may not always require new skills just like using same pen and paper we can write different stories. However, competition increases more and more over time. The more skills we have more the chances of getting hired. The skill sets depends on the types of jobs so it is hard to say what kinds of skills are required in general. It is good to have access in modern characterization tools such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), tunneling electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and X-ray diffraction (XRD) among others in nanotechnology research. Nowadays it looks like if you don’t have some basic computer programming skills, you are lacking something. 
 There have been talks about supporting research activities in Nepal by Alumni of TU. What could be the best way to start/support/foster such activities? 
 Sharing research ideas and activities we are doing here, providing literatures that are not available/not accessible from Nepal, financial support to purchase some instruments can be some among others. Theoretical research ideas may be more useful than those requires high cost instruments. We can update new publications in common forum, share thesis etc. I had made an extra copy of thesis for physics department and dropped it there last December when I visited Nepal. One idea may be that we can discuss about conducting yearly conference meeting of Nepalese scientists in USA. There, we can discuss more about opening industries and research centers in Nepal.
 Earlier you told about your professional aim. How was your ‘aim in life’ developed? 
To elaborate more, professional aim is what kind of profession we want to choose for living a comfortable life. I think ‘life aim’ and professional aim are two different things. One can choose to be a doctor, a teacher or a farmer etc. Yes, earlier I was just talking about professional aim. It has been changing over time. In the beginning I wanted to be teacher and a farmer. Later it was changed to university professor in Nepal. Now I am working in industry. Certainly, as a teenager, my ‘aim in life’ was not to be a scientist and work for USA. Engineering or research is my profession and it can be changed too. However, life aim is developed over time through learning by experience and realizing the purpose of life, knowing the meaning of life, why I am in this earth, what makes difference if I am not here, what kind of legacy I can leave after me etc. When one achieves this aim, s/he can gain inner satisfaction. Then one can see the meaning of life. My aim in life is to help others and that was developed since I was a teenager and it is still growing and taking shape. I think that my life will be successful if I can make society move forward even a little bit. When I was teenager, I was very much impressed by life of our great poet Laxmi Prasad Devkota. “खोज्छन सबै सुख भने सुख तो कहाँ छ? आफु मिटाई अरुलाई दिनु जहाँ छ |” Translation: Where is happiness if everybody is looking for it? There where you make yourself empty giving to others. So, I developed myself that I want to help other, do social work and help society. The types of questions where I grew up, where I studied etc. make all of us emotional. We are not there where we grew up, we are not there where we learn to be human or learn to be a good citizen, where we got life. So many of us grown up, and left. Some of us left village and go to cities, some of us left country. When we thought we were successful and we left our country. If we were not successful we wouldn’t. This sounds like kind of selfishness. I like to add here that I am glad to see increasing number of Nepali physics PhD every year. Doing PhD is great and after that it is time to think what can we do back home. Let’s hope Nepal will not just be a man power producer for USA or other developed countries. As I mentioned earlier, we can help recent graduate for the opportunities abroad. However, that should not be counterproductive for the country by sending brain power abroad. In the other hand we cannot stop brain drain if there are no opportunities in the country. Therefore we have to think two things here. First: help new graduate for higher education abroad, second: do something for the advancement of the country to create some opportunity for the new comers. 
It seems you have a plan to do some social work for your society, could you please elaborate? 
To talk about myself, after I completed M. Sc., my aim was to encourage and help younger generation for higher education. I and my friends from Isma established an organization named ‘Ismali Kosh’ (now Ismali Samaj) with the aim that any student or anyone from our area could get load for his need and return later. It is still growing. Five years ago, we (I and my wife) established “Premnath Memorial Scholarship Fund” in my father’s name. Now the fund has been utilizing through Ismali Samaj Kathmandu so that the Samaj gives prize for three top SLC students from Isma village every year. We are hoping we can do more in the future. Then, we get inner satisfaction regardless the type of profession we do and it really does not matter where we stay (home or abroad). Any work that can help our society move forward is appreciated. For example, I recently learned about initiative in anti-corruption, poverty alleviation and several inspirational programs by Hemsarita Pathak Academy founded by our friend Hem Pathak and team. 
Thank you Nabin Ji for this opportunity to express my views in your blog!

It is our pleasure to have you!- Thank you!!!NKM

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Live HD video of earth from the International Space Station

The view is astonishing!
Here, follow the link, I can assure you that it is going to be wonderful
I wish I had a projector, and could project these view while working!!!

Did you say that you want a background music for this view?

The view would be absolutely amazing if we could catch it when it flies over Aurora.

Head over to and try to track down one of 'em. Please let me know if there is going to be an Aurora watch!
There are other Alerting sites too, for example:


Monday, May 5, 2014

Downscaling Shortwave Radiation for northeast regional ecosystem model (ne-resm)

A brief update on our recent progress in downscaling the atmospheric variables. This work was performed to support the input variables for northeast regional ecosystem modeling group ( 

We applied machine learning technique to downscale the GCM in reference to the Daymet variables (which represents the ground truth). Since the Daymet is only available in current scenario, our scheme will be more useful for providing the high resolution atmospheric variables for the future scenario. Moreover, since we have built the framework, this approach can be extended to continental USA.  We have performed downscaling of Maximum temperature, minimum temperature and downwelling shortwave radiation. The shortwave radiation is the one that requires a lot of improvements... details to come out in a paper soon. This work was presented in Machine Learning Conference in NYC and received quite nice receptions from people who visited the poster. You can see some more pics here:

Thanks are due  to Dr. Peter Thornton at Climate Change Science Institute / Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I am grateful for his help in ingesting the daylength variable so that ISIMIP and Daymet could be converted to the same 24hr average, 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

PM2.5 Map by fusing Machine-learning and Kriging estimates

Just a brief update on our progress in making PM2.5 maps for the northeast. First we applied machine learning algorithms to estimate PM2.5 from remote sensing, ground station and meteorology data, then we fused Kriging results of the ground station data to obtain the final PM2.5 map. Inverse distance weighting on remote sensing has been applied to improve the coverage on remote sensing. The results were obtained using NY state data as we were funded by NY state agency. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An interview with Dr. Suman Neupane

Congratulations to Dr. Suman Neupane (Scholar page) for successfully defending his PhD thesis from Physics Department (Florida International University). He is also the recipient of the best dissertation award (more here!). We gladly present an interview with him.

1.     Please tell us about yourself. (Nepal School, Masters experience and travel to PhD institutions. Did you teach? Also any links, personal websites, and a photo etc.)
I come from a middle class family of Chapagaon which lies in the outskirt of Kathmandu valley. After finishing high school from Lalitpur Madhyamik Vidyalaya, I joined Amrit Science College with the aim of studying physics to prepare for a teaching career at higher education. I finished Bachelors in science from Tri-Chandra college and Masters’ in Physics from the Central Department of Physics In Tribhuvan University. During the transitional periods from one level to another, I taught in different schools for a total time of about 30 months.  After my Masters degree, I taught physics for three years in Kathmandu and joined Florida International University in January 2008.

2.       Could you please describe your PhD research in plain English?
During my PhD, I was involved in the experimental study of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and related materials. A graphene (Nobel prize, 2010) layer consists of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal arrays. A CNT can be visualized a multiple layer of graphene rolled into a tubular structure. As the name suggests, the diameter of CNTs can be as little as few nanometers (one-billionth of a meter) while the length could run to several hundred micrometers.  Due to their special structure, CNTs have strength greater than of steel and are several times lighter than aluminum. CNTs have potential in application of being used as electron source for displays, electrode in lithium ion battery, agent for drug delivery, composite materials for high-strength materials, etc. During my PhD, I was primarily focused in enhancing the electron emission properties of CNT arrays, studying the structural evolution of carbon nanotubes during lithiation and delithiation cycles in lithium ion batteries. I was also involved in the research of materials like ruthenium dioxide, titanium dioxide for energy storage applications.

3.       What are the social applications of your research/ short-term or long-term impact of your research to the society?
Carbon nanotube has potential for applications in various fields: Carbon nanotubes have been added to strengthen materials for sports equipment, body armor, vehicles, rockets, and building materials.  CNTs also find applications in solar cells for renewable source of energy. Using carbon nanotubes as the electrodes in lithium ion battery, capacitors provides more current and better electrical and mechanical stability than other leading materials. Carbon nanotube based devices can be used in efficient displays. In the long term, CNTs can are also expected to play a major role in biomedical applications.

4.       How was your graduate school experience?
My graduate school was a big learning experience. Coming from a background with a very little experimental skills, it takes a lot of time and effort to learn several skills for survival. Closely following post-docs and senior graudate students will help to get through ups and down of graduate school. One needs overall transformation, dexterity, reading and writing skills, computational skills  all needed to be acquired.

5.       Please share few useful tips that you wish you were told when you applied for PhD.
A student coming to graduate school should be prepared to around 5 years of hardship. It would take at 10 year for  a person to get a real job and settle down. So, the message to convey to a enthusiast is that THIS IS A NEW BEGINNING. While choosing the school, choose the school which has research going in right direction. Go to
(i) Google scholar and check where the professors are publishing recently.
(ii) Check the funding history of the professors
(iii) Check where the recent graduates are??
(iv) Check the RATE MY PROFESSOR, this might give a little idea about the attitude of the professor.

6.       Where do you want to be in the next 5 years? What are your hobbies, and spare time activities?
I have recently joined as a post doctoral associate continuing the research. It will be another challenging 5 years. Joining a research institute will be an ideal case scenario.
For the hobbies, I prefer playing and watching sports, traveling, watching games, following news from around the world.