Freshman Stamp Student Hamood Qureshi Draws Comparisons Between Science and Music: ‘No Stone Left Unturned’ | News
Analytical and creative. Scientific and artistic.
It is these seemingly contradictory identities that Hamood Qureshi, a chemical engineering student, feels most comfortable identifying.
Working in a chemical engineering lab to develop more efficient methods of transferring data and honing his skills as a guitarist, Qureshi finds solace in the flexibility of both fields, exploring the groundwork of those professionals who came before him. .
“The combination of those two things really helped shape the way I think about things,” he explained.
Despite his accomplishments as a stamp scholar at Ogden Honors College, student senator, active musician and lab assistant, Qureshi is just a freshman with aspirations yet to come.
Qureshi accomplished all of this and more before completing his first year.
The youngest son of Pakistani immigrants, Qureshi grew up in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he attended Lafayette High School. Ever since high school, Qureshi had been determined to try every opportunity that came his way, including participating in the choir, Beta Club, quiz bowl, and the National Honor Society.
“I did a lot of things like that and I didn’t overlook anything,” he explained.
A major influence on Qureshi’s tenacious drive to pursue a multitude of experiences is his religious upbringing, raised by Muslim parents who came to America in the 1990s.
“My parents wanted to raise us religiously; I always went to the mosque when I was a child,” he explained. “The emphasis has always been on living within the ideals of Islam, such as always putting your best foot forward and respecting the people around you.”
Qureshi said he carries this mentality of putting his best foot forward in all aspects of his life, not just his spiritual life. One of the other major themes instilled in him was a strong work ethic.
“You’ve been so lucky, so get out there and work and you’ll get there,” he said.
This attitude carried over into his choice of LSU as his graduation location. Initially skeptical of coming to such a great school, he quickly found it exhilarating, allowing him to try everything that came his way and see what stuck.
He describes LSU as the middle ground between rigorous academics and extracurricular activities for those who want more than just one side of the experience.
“I was able to play jazz, do research, and take classes that aren’t strictly science-based,” Qureshi said. “As if I was taking courses within Honors College that explore a different side of the world, like discussing the implications of sea level rise and understanding and solving the problem of poverty in Louisiana.”
He describes LSU as the middle ground between rigorous academics and extracurricular activities, including its membership in the Society of Peer Mentors and as a Louisiana Service and Leadership Scholar.
“And I think it’s like a great combination of those two things,” he said.
Qureshi’s life is a series of balancing acts; he not only balances academics and extracurriculars, but also his simultaneous roles as musician and scientist.
A guitarist who draws inspiration from jazz and blues music like BD King and Jimi Hendrix, Qureshi said he created his own style through a synthesis of his inspirations. In doing so, he also started his own band called Rick’o’Shea where he hopes to further define his style, away from the classic pop and rock he played in his early days.
“I came across stuff like Parliament and Funkadelic and they’re great because it’s funk music; what they play is his own style,” he explained. “There are so many different styles with it, and finding out what I like to play and how I play who I imitate has been its own journey.”
Qureshi also brings her curious and experimental nature to her scientific work. Together with John Flake, a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Qureshi is helping to develop more efficient methods of data transfer for the future of technology.
The lab where Qureshi works is trying to solve the problem of decreasing electrical resistance in computer chips by testing new designs of adhesives to enable more transparent transfers for use in self-driving vehicles and other applications.
“It’s an intimidating thing. You just get thrown in and told to figure it out,” he said. “Dr. Flake was awesome. He guided me as a research advisor. And he tells us to do things like this or like that do things like that. He provided lots of advice. It’s really a bit like exploration.
There are many similarities between science and music, Qureshi explained, namely the ability to work both within the rules and to break them.
“You can explore different links and see what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “There are things you can learn from what has been done. But there was also a lot of “let’s try this”. And that’s a direct parallel to what you do whenever you do science. You pull literature and see what others have done.
Qureshi’s knack for intellectual exploration is evident in his teachers, even before he completed his freshman year at LSU.
Elzbieta Cook, who has taught chemistry with distinction at Qureshi for the past two semesters, praised her punctuality in class, always there in the front row, ready to “ask an interesting or difficult question”.
“In science, we are constantly looking for answers,” Cook said. “It’s good to know that there are students [like Hamood] who want to learn the reasons behind everything as opposed to what will be on the exam.
Even outside of a strictly scientific environment, Qureshi’s teachers have praised his skills in discussion and as a supportive leader. Granger Babcock, associate dean of Ogden Honors College, teaches Qureshi in a course focused on social justice issues facing the state of Louisiana.
“He is very dedicated to his studies and to social justice,” Babcock explained.
Babcock’s course is the first in a series of courses for LaSalle Scholars, who are students “very interested in changing Louisiana for the better and interested in engaging with issues on the ground.” Qureshi is a LaSalle Scholar.
“It gives them the ability to use different lenses to look at things and to use different methodologies to think about a problem, some scientific, some creative,” Babcock said. “It makes them more flexible as students and allows them to become deeper thinkers.”
It is students like Qureshi who attempt to find the emotional core of what it means to find solutions to real-world problems, a theme he brings into all aspects of his life.
Even her classmates noticed her unique skills and motivation.
Anna Catherine Strong, a second-year political science and screen arts student, explained that Qureshi stands out as an extremely intelligent creator, which caught her attention almost instantly after meeting her in the spring of 2021 during her first tour at LSU.
Since then, the two have maintained a friendship where both parties learn from each other; he learns more about LSU from her and she learns about music from him. Still, Strong draws inspiration from Qureshi’s tenacity.
“He really breaks through that barrier of wanting to do so many different things to do all of these things,” she explained. “He really has his cake and eats it too, and it’s wonderful to watch.”
Still, Qureshi isn’t done looking for new things to explore at LSU.
“I mean, frankly, I don’t know what the future holds,” Qureshi said. “I feel like it’s just getting started, like that phase I was in high school where I try everything and see what sticks.”