Faces of Mason

Interviews by Huong Cao and Hailey Bullis

Organization: Rohma Hassan – Co Director of TEDxGeorgeMasonU

Why did you decide to be the Co-Director of TEDxGeorgeMasonU?

Originally, I was interested in TED talks because the speakers were able to condense one idea to just a few minutes. When the club was reshaping, different people were leaving for graduation. The Director position was available and I realized that the club would not be active for the next years if nobody was going to take the position. Also, I wanted to be a part of the club. It seems like the best way to do that was to lead the club even though I did not think that I was able to. But, it has been over a year and everything has worked out.

How does the organization benefit Mason students ?

People often ask me why I like TED talks. To me, TED talks show me that learning does not only happen in a classroom. Learning is something you can do outside and forever. TED talks are able to provide you with knowledge while you do not have to face quizzes or exams and finals!

What is the upcoming event of TEDxGeorgeMasonU?

On Nov.29, we will be having our next Discussion Night featuring “Well-being”. What we do during the discussion night is that we choose a topic, a guest speaker, a few TED talks on the topic and attendees will discuss the topic after listening to the guest speaker and TED talks.

Student: Mounika Nauduri (Senior, Major in Finance and Management)

What is your dream job and why?

I want to be an investment banker.  My aunt and uncle work on the Wall Street. I have been growing up around them, which comes to the point that I become interested in that world and keep talking about it.

Why did you decide to involved in organizations on campus?

I am a dancer for Mason Mahima. I used to be a Costco dancer and I just want to try again. I’m a treasurer for TEDxGeorgeMasonU because I like watching TED talks and being a part of TED organization. I’m also involved with the Indian Student Association because I want to be a part of my Indian culture side. The organization creates events surrounding our Indian culture and highlights the diversity of Mason.

What organization system do you employ?

I use a planner. I use different colors for my classes and organizations. Each class or organization has its own color. I layout my schedule beforehand. I take time to study at night when I get home. Everything is all planned out based on my planner, which is very helpful.

What do you do in your free time?

I like drawing, singing, and listening to music. Also, I absolutely love reading books. Being in a quiet corner with a book is my ideal relaxation.

Peter Becker, Astronomy Professor

How did you come to teach astronomy?

I got my PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1987 and then at that time I really didn’t think I was going to be able to become a professor because it’s very competitive and there are multi-levels and you sort of get eliminated at different levels in your career. So first I was a post-doctoral scientist in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia for two years from 87-89, and then I was at the Naval Research lab in Washington for three years until 92, and that’s when I actually was invited to join the faculty at Mason. So I’ve been here since 92 and for me it was a very big deal because I kept thinking – ‘you keep working towards your goal you have in mind but you’re not really sure you’re going to be able to achieve it’.

What are your hobbies?

“Well I’m in a band actually, a kind of classical rock, pop band. We play all throughout the whole area, so that’s my other thing that I do in my life.

What do you play?

Guitar, so that’s totally different from my day job here but it’s a nice thing. I actually like it because a lot of people get very analytical about guitar, you know. You could do a lot of studies of music theory and stuff like that but for me, I just pretty much play by feel because my analytical thing is my day job so I don’t want to be too analytical about music when I’m having the chance to do that.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

“ Well lets see, in the field we published a paper about ten years ago on some things called pulsars, which are rotating neutron stars so we developed a new theory. I worked with a guy from the research lab in Washington and like I said, we published this paper about ten years ago and it’s become the kind of standard model in the field now, so I guess that model for pulsars is my my proudest professional accomplishment.

What made you pursue that concept or paper, even though people were telling you not to?

“Well there was a certain key idea that I was sort of playing around with, trying to put together to make this new picture I had in mind and I just kept seeing how these pieces would fit together, almost like a jigsaw puzzle. Of course, when you’re having casual conversations with people they aren’t necessarily seeing the pieces of the puzzle the way I’m seeing them, so I don’t mean to denigrate those folks because I had huge respect for them and I still do, but they just hadn’t focused on that particular thing the way I had so they didn’t quite see the pieces the way I did.

Photos Courtesy of Michelle Garner, Hailey Bullis, and Mounika Nauduri