Sasha Asghari

Physics - Class of 2011

Sasha Asghari, a native of Kyrgyzstan whose mother inspired her fascination with science, is parlaying her highly successful physics education at Sacramento State into the pursuit of a doctorate in nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley and a future in research on nuclear-weapons issues.

 I am working on a project that is ... attempting to help get rid of nuclear weapons or at least curb their proliferation.

Physics major Alexandra Moskaleva (she prefers "Sasha") made quite a name for herself at Sacramento State, graduating with honors in 2011 and spending a summer working on the CERN super collider in Geneva. She's currently at UC Berkeley, studying for a doctorate in nuclear engineering. She's also married now, shedding Moskaleva for Asghari.

"The Ph.D. program will take me five years," says the native of Kyrgyzstan. "I'm taking courses and teaching the first two years, and then will be researching and writing my dissertation for the last three."

She's on track to graduate in 2017. "Things are going well with my classes and research," she says. "I am working on a project that is on the technology side of attempting to help get rid of nuclear weapons or at least curb their proliferation."

Asghari's professional goal is to parlay her skills into the research field, focusing on nonproliferation and stockpiling issues. The University of California is pursuing a federal grant that would finance such a field. If the past is prologue, then her chances of flourishing in this field look especially good.

Three summers ago, Asghari was directly involved with the ATLAS experiment in Geneva. ATLAS is a several-stories-high, 7,000-ton particle detector within the Large Hadron Collider (LHC); it is the world's largest particle detector. Her team was responsible for replacing a portion of the detector that measures the range of particles from the LHC. One of just five CSU students who participated in the summer program, she credits her mother, who is a biochemist, for cultivating her fascination with science and math.

Working on this project was a great learning experience, she says, because it enabled her to interact with internationally renowned scientists. The laboratory work was complemented by graduate-level lectures from specialists in particle physics that provided a global perspective.

She also credits Sac State with giving her a firm grounding in physics. Professor Vassili Sergan and others challenged her to make the most of her potential.

She's no less grateful for the support of the Honors Program and its former director, Professor Roberto Pomo. This program provided a rigorous academic regimen that reinforced the discipline she needed to excel in her major.

Asghari's professional horizons continue to expand in direct proportion to her steely determination to succeed. She personifies Sacramento State's motto: "Redefine the Possible." - Alan Miller

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