Sanil Mittal

The U-M STEM Research Career Award supports highly qualified sophomores and juniors who plan to pursue a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. and research career in a STEM field. This opportunity is open to students from all backgrounds, making it a great option for international students, who are often unable to apply for many national scholarships due to U.S. citizenship or permanent residency requirements. This year’s recipient is Sanil Mittal! Sanil is from New Delhi, India. Sanil is double-majoring in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Interdisciplinary Physics and minoring in Business and Entrepreneurship. 

Sanil applied for STEM RCA because it was one of the few research awards open to international students. He wanted to see how his research abilities and achievements stood in comparison to applicants of other prestigious scholarships such as the Goldwater and Astronaut Scholarships. Shortly after graduating from high school, he worked on protostellar environments and their constituent complex organic molecules and then moved to a project focused on star clusters and the dynamics of stellar evolution. These projects reaffirmed his passion for physics and astronomy, and he is currently working on finding new stellar parameter estimates like temperature and metallicity for some very metal-poor stars in our galaxy by combining data from old and new surveys. His Honors Thesis is titled: “Improved Estimates of Stellar Parameters and Metallicities of 311 Metal-Poor Stars.” 

When asked how the application process transformed his future plans, he noted that “Working on the application essays allowed me to better understand the research I was doing when I had to explain it in the 3-page research paper. The process also helped me reflect on my future plans and think deeper about why I wanted to pursue a career in research.”

After obtaining his Ph.D., he would like to continue his research and help provide other students with the opportunity to conduct research at a young age. He would like to teach classes to students in the future. 

Sanil would like to thank Dr. Merel van 't Hoff for providing him with an opportunity to conduct research during his gap year before starting his undergraduate education, because it helped solidify his interest in his field. He would also like to thank Prof. Ian Roederer for continuing to advise him even after moving to North Carolina State University.