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Aliya Babul

BS, University of Toronto; MA, Columbia University, Astrophysics; PhD, Columbia University, Astrophysics (Present)

Subjects:
Calculus, Chemistry, Computer Science, Math, Physics, Precalculus

An astrophysics PhD at Columbia with an M.A. in astronomy and an Honors BSc in physics, Aliya designs and teaches lab courses at Columbia while researching explosions on the surfaces of white dwarf stars—while also maintaining a full career as a math and science tutor. Trained by Columbia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, she began her tutoring career in the AP sciences and now tutors all levels of math (through Calculus), science (Physics and Chemistry), programming (Matlab and Python), and engineering to high school and college students.

Aliya was originally drawn to astrophysics research because she enjoys the challenge of not only creatively solving, but of actually discovering new problems; as a tutor, she strives to cultivate in her students the same combination of joyous discovery and embrace of challenge that motivates her research. Much of her focus is on coaching students through higher-level challenges to anticipate the hardest problems they might encounter on a test. Just as importantly, however, Aliya customizes her approach to each student so that intellectual challenge builds rather than undermines confidence and skills for tackling advanced work. Often, this approach to tutoring entails an initial assessment to help her better understand students’ strengths and areas of improvement, followed by personalized study plans with supplemental practice exercises designed both to push students’ comprehension and mimic those of tough high school exams.

With her students, Aliya is a calm confidence-booster and relatable presence: she is someone students can feel comfortable opening up to about any question without embarrassment, whom they can text for short, last-minute sessions to cover lingering questions the night before a big test. Indeed, Aliya particularly enjoys working not only with high-level math and science students, but non-science students who are ready to ask the right questions—even and especially when the answer may seem out of reach. Aliya is there to show it isn’t.