Open University graduate Imran Nasim is getting ready to jet off to the States to begin a research career at the tender age of 22. The Surrey scholar is celebrating after becoming what is thought to be the youngest person to achieve a PhD in Astrophysics.
But despite his incredible success, Imran says he was not above making mistakes on the road to his high achievement and says it made him a better scholar.
Imran was a dedicated OU student who achieved success at a very young age, graduating with a first class Honours in Mathematics and Physics at just 18 in July 2017. At the time he managed his studies from home and also whilst travelling abroad with his family and tennis-playing brother.
“The Open University provided me with a solid foundation which I was apply to my research and I would like to share this story so that it may inspire Open University students and bring more credit into the brilliant system which the OU provides.
“Primarily where I am now is down to what I gained from being an OU student. Working independently on projects to the see them through. Independent study really is the key thing.”
After completing his OU degree Imran was accepted for a PhD with the University of Surrey and earlier this month he passed his viva examination to gain his doctorate.
“The PhD was a different field to my OU degree and it was tough at first, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole aspect of getting papers published, studying a question that has not yet been answered.
“You make blunders, like hitting the dartboard and someone sees you hit bullseye, but they don’t see the 95 times you have missed it!”
Imran is a science scholar through and through and enjoys reading more about areas outside his field for relaxation when he’s not studying!
He puts his success down to resilience and keeping going when things get tough:
“What’s going on in education right now is very interesting, a lot of people are upset due to the changes brought on by the pandemic, so it’s important to know that there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Everyone wants to be a success but you’re not always going to be. I’m ok with that and I think if you keep putting the effort it you will get something in the end.”
His own personal work ethic has become habitual, he says:
“I am someone who likes to start work immediately when I get up. I am not necessarily an early riser! But I do like to begin straight away. And I do like to take breaks, after 1.5/2hrs to take my mind off things and it makes me work better.”
During his OU studies Imran says he was very grateful for the support of his tutor, Graham Eaton, with whom he still keeps in touch.
Mr Eaton, OU tutor in Maths, passed on his congratulations to Imran saying:
“As Imran’s tutor for modules at second and third level, I always knew that he was destined for great things; it only seems like yesterday when we chatted after a tutorial about his maths interests! Having tutored Imran makes me proud to be an Associate Lecturer.”
Imran has now received an accepted an offer for the position of postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard Medical School and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute which begins next month. His research is into cancer and genetics.
Ambition to run a multi-discipline laboratory
He says: “My postdoc will be in computational biology, more specifically the process of X-chromosome inactivation with relation to cancer. I am looking forward to applying much of what I have learned in the Mathematical and Physical disciplines into very important biological challenges – I am quite excited!”
His ambition is to run a research laboratory of his own, with researchers coming together from multi disciplines to work on different projects.