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UTEP Student Profile: Nakul Karle

Last Updated on May 21, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Originally published May 22, 2019

By UC Staff

UTEP Communications

For Nakul Karle, UTEP was the ideal place to apply his physics knowledge to the field of his choice. In the process, he has met lifelong friends and had the opportunity to celebrate two very special achievements at the University.

Nakul Karle
Nakul Karle

Name: Nakul Karle
Classification: Ph.D. candidate
Major: Environmental Science and Engineering

What drew you to UTEP? After graduating with a master’s degree in physics from the Mumbai University, I was looking for Ph.D. opportunities in Germany. However, the turning point of my career was when my mentor back in India, Dr. Kiran Kolwankar introduced me to Dr. Rajendra Zope, a professor here in the physics department. Dr. Zope provided me information and guidance about interdisciplinary programs that UTEP offers such as Environmental Science and Engineering and Computational Science. I found the idea of interdisciplinary programs fascinating because they allowed me to use my physics knowledge and apply it to the field of my choice. With great determination, I decided to join UTEP. I went on to get an M.S. in Computational Science with Dr. Zope and am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and Engineering under the guidance of Professor Rosa Fitzgerald in the atmospheric physics lab.

What have you enjoyed most about studying here? For me, the list goes too long. The UTEP architecture is unique and gorgeous, and the atmosphere on the campus is delightful. Everyone on campus – that includes students, faculty and staff members – are friendly and helpful. When approached by students, professors and administrators make sure to find time from their busy schedules. Amenities provided to both undergraduate and graduate students are impressive, and it is always reassuring to know that I am living and studying in one of the safest cities and campuses in the entire United States. What I have also enjoyed most about studying here is the fact that along with the academics, I get ample opportunities on campus to pursue and develop my personality through various extracurricular activities.

In which extracurricular activities are you involved? Right from the beginning, I have been actively involved in several extracurricular activities on campus. Just recently the UTEP graduate students elected me as the Collegiate Senator of the Graduate School to represent them in the Student Government Association (SGA) for 2019-20. It's such a big honor and responsibility. I will make sure to stand up to the challenge and deliver on student expectations. Before running for the Collegiate Senator position, I was serving as the representative of Environmental Science and Engineering in the Graduate Student Assembly (GSA). Currently, I am also serving on the advisory committee of the UTEP Green Fund, which provides financial resources and advising to student sustainability projects that aim to improve the UTEP campus.

What’s your favorite place to relax or study on campus? I have multiple favorite spots on campus to relax. Since I work in Professor Rosa Fitzgerald’s atmospheric physics lab, we have access to the roof of the Physical Science Building where we have most of our instruments. I like to observe the beautiful view of campus from there or observe the clouds in the sky. The other spots I like to hang out are Leech Grove, sitting under the shade of the trees, or the lush green lawn of the Centennial Plaza in the evening or nighttime.

Tell us about a hands-on learning experience you’ve had at UTEP? Working with Professor Fitzgerald in the atmospheric physics lab has been an excellent experience for me. She is not only an excellent PI (Principal Investigator) but also a caring, supportive and understanding advisor. A major part of my research involves using a mini-LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) called a ceilometer, which is a laser instrument located on the roof of the Physical Science Building. To begin with, Professor Fitzgerald ensured that I get the right training from the best in the field. I was fortunate to get a chance to visit Howard University, Beltsville campus in Washington D.C. for two weeks and receive hands-on training from Dr. Ricardo Sakai, who is also one of my Ph.D. committee members. This training from Dr. Sakai helped me understand the minor details of the instrument and set me up for its application in my research work.

Recently I was selected for a very prestigious two-week atmospheric boundary layer research project, which allowed me to visit and work at the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace Atmospheric Research Observatory, Site Instrumental de Recherche par Télédétection Atmosphérique (SIRTA) in Paris, France. I was the first non-European student to get this opportunity. It was a great experience which not only allowed me to advance in my research but also represent UTEP abroad and establish future collaborations.

What is your favorite UTEP event, and why? My favorite UTEP event is Mastering Dining Etiquette. This event is designed to educate UTEP students on proper dining etiquette, which will help them during a business meeting, dinner or interview. The reason why it is my favorite UTEP event is because I get to meet and interact with fellow UTEP students and faculty members, and I happened to meet three of my best friends for the first time during this event.

What advice would you give to an incoming UTEP student? There are so many opportunities and facilities on campus for students to take advantage of. Do not hesitate to ask the right friend or faculty member about it; they will be more than happy to guide you. The non-teaching staff on campus is also very friendly and always eager to help. You just need to approach them. Try balancing study and fun together. There is always something going on. Make sure you study hard but don’t miss the opportunity to attend and enjoy some of these events as well.

What is your best UTEP memory so far? It is a draw between two events that I hold very close to my heart. In 2016, I happened to attend a basketball game at the Don Haskins Center. Being a relatively new student, I was not aware of the history of the game and especially UTEP’s basketball heritage. I soon realized that the game I was witnessing was an extraordinary one. UTEP was celebrating the golden jubilee of its historic NCAA title victory in 1966. It was so pleasant to see the members of the victorious team celebrated, and the atmosphere in the stadium was ecstatic. However, to my amazement, that was just the beginning. The most significant moment turned out to be the exclusive video message by none other than President Barack Obama congratulating UTEP and its 1966 championship team. And to add icing to the cake, the current UTEP men’s team went on to win the match that evening.

An equally matching best memory was standing behind UTEP President Diana Natalicio along with many other UTEP students while she announced UTEP’s R1 designation to the public at the Centennial Plaza. This Carnegie R1 classification is a pat on the back to all the researchers on the campus for their exceptional research work and an encouragement to do even better in the future. I think I am fortunate to be part of the current students witnessing this glorious moment of UTEP attaining a national research top-tier ranking.