Giving something back

  • June 29, 2012
Giving something back

Niraj Lal has been given a gold award in recognition of his volunteering work.

Niraj Lal is having a double celebration this week after winning a gold award for his voluntary education outreach work and having a paper on his solar power research published in the world’s leading condensed matter physics journal.

Niraj was awarded a UK Student Volunteering Gold Award from the Office of External Affairs at the University of Cambridge.

Dr Matt Hawkeye from the Department of Physics, who nominated Niraj for the award, said: “Niraj has by far demonstrated the strongest commitment to volunteerism and public outreach of any student I have worked with or supervised.”

He cited in particular how Niraj had developed a public lecture on ‘The Science of Electricity’. He said: “It was delivered with Niraj’s inimitable energy and packed with audience participation and physical demonstrations.”

Over the past three years Niraj has performed his lecture for a wide range of audiences including ethnic minority summer schools, in-care students, village colleges, mature-age students, international summer schools and the general public.

He has also volunteered at the Wysing Arts Centre helping disadvantaged students from Cambridgeshire produce a film about ‘Science of the Future’, worked with the BBC Radio Naked Scientists on the science of solar energy, and volunteered at the Royal Society Science Exhibition in London.

Dr Hawkeye continued: “Niraj’s passion for volunteering extends beyond science as well. Niraj is Clare Hall College’s Amnesty International representative, an active member of the Australian Greens and the British Humanist Association, and volunteered with the Cambridge Community Café project.”

Niraj, who is doing a PhD in Physics, is co-author of the paper, Using spacer layers to control metal and semiconductor absorption in ultrathin solar cells with plasmonic substrates, which was published this week in Physical Review B.

His PhD research focuses on nanovoid plasmon-enhanced photovoltaics and aims to make solar cells more efficient.

Latest News

Knowledge gap on zoonotic disease transmission highlighted

The impact of climate change on migration patterns, particularly in areas which depend on agriculture and livestock, could affect zoonotic disease transmission yet little research has been done to date. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar and Veterinary Science PhD student Dorien Braam [2018], looks at the research that currently exists, but calls […]

Addressing climate change in words and action

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has called for the US federal government to establish a national, robust and legally binding net-zero target that emphasises comprehensiveness, equity and clarity on the role of offsets.  In an opinion piece in Arizona Republic, Stephen Lezak and his co-authors, including Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, which has done […]

Gates Cambridge mentors: forging bonds and giving back

The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council has been running a mentoring programme since 2018 as part of an effort to bring alumni and scholars closer together, build a stronger sense of community and to give mentors a chance to give back. This year has seen a big increase in the number of mentors coming forward, with […]

Scholar joins COP26 net-zero initiative

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has been appointed as a climate change consultant on a new consortium working on a net-zero vision for the world ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference [COP26] in November. Ramit Debnath will be working on designing the India net-zero profile chapter of the vision along with in-country experts. The international […]