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Rajat Ghosh: ‘Philly’s like a playground,’ says Canadian-born UPenn breast cancer researcher

Rajat Ghosh got his PhD in quantum physics. But he’s not spending spending his days pondering theoretical abstractions. Instead, he’s found a very practical and important application of his work: early detection of breast cancer. On any given day, Rajat may find himself programming MRI machines in C, tangling with string theory equations, or using […]


Rajat Ghosh got his PhD in quantum physics. But he’s not spending spending his days pondering theoretical abstractions. Instead, he’s found a very practical and important application of his work: early detection of breast cancer.
On any given day, Rajat may find himself programming MRI machines in C, tangling with string theory equations, or using nitrous oxide and a blowtorch to pressurize liquids. Thanks to his physics research, the signal strength of MRI scanners can be boosted by a factor of a million – though only for a short amount of time.
The diversity Rajat loves in his work is also what he loves about Philly.
Since moving last August, the Penn researcher has joined the Capoeira community (a Brazilian martial art set to music), found a core group of friends through the Network of Indian Professionals and attended many Fourth Wall Arts salons. [Full Disclosure: This author is a board member of Network of Indian Professionals.]
Read on to see why this Canadian-born researcher moved to Philadelphia, and what restaurants the former bartender and self-proclaimed foodie enjoys.

Where did you grow up?
Fredericton, New Brunswick. 80,000 people right on the East Coast on Canada. About an hour north of Maine. Absolutely gorgeous place. Everyone knew everyone. You knew your local butcher, your fish-monger, and there are wonderful trees. Friendliest people in the world. Very scenic.
Where do you live now?
Rittenhouse. It’s right near the river, so you can go running up the Schuylkill and along Boathouse Row. In the summertime, I go to Rittenhouse Market. They have great food, baguettes, the Amish show up as well. I’m a big foodie, so when I see good quality food it’s over for me. I love it.
My place is near all the bars, but at the same time it’s not loud at night. It’s like a 10 minute walk away. And there are a lot of great restaurants in the area.
Why did you move to Philly?
The first thing is work. I work at UPenn, in the radiology department. UPenn is a very strong university. The medical department is one of the top in the U.S., and that’s one of the reasons why I picked Philly.
Another reason: it seems I want to work in a big city for a few years. Philly’s pretty big, so it has a lot of diversity. A lot of creative culture. A lot of good things to do.
I went to grad school in a small town in New Jersey [Princeton], so Friday and Saturday night I would get a little bored. But you come to Philly, you have Fourth Wall Arts Salon – a great thing where it’s interactive and you get to meet the artist community. There’s a lot of great underground, live music here. I have an artist friend here, and before I moved he told me about how great the scene was.
When did you feel like Philadelphia was home?
Two and a half months in, I started becoming more a part of two local communities.
I joined this Capoeira community, Vai Capoeria. They’re very welcoming. They kind’ve felt like family. I’m also Indian and I joined an organization called NetIP and that’s where I went on and met most of my friends. They’re so welcoming, and showed me all the cool things to do in Philadelphia. After joining those two organizations, that’s really what made it feel like home.
If someone’s visiting to Philadelphia, where do you show them?
The Philly Art Museum, especially on Friday, where you have great events.
I love taking people to the Bellevue XIX. There are great views of the city. They have a raw bar and an incredible mixologist. I used to be a bartender, so I can tell if someone actually knows how to mix their own drinks.
How do you describe Philadelphia to your friends back in Canada?
It’s a very large small town. It has all the things you want in a big city – restaurants, places to shop, but at the same time you get a small town vibe. Everyone’s friendly, local haunts that everyone goes to, local hide-aways. So you kind of get the best of both worlds.
In a sentence (tweet), why do you love Philly?
Walking through Rittenhouse, walking through Old City, all the way up to Penn’s Landing. All of Philly’s like a playground; it’s not one thing, it’s the whole atmosphere.

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