Nausheen Shah is a high-energy theoretical physicist and a professor at Wayne State University.

I loved physics when I was a kid, because I would always ask, why, why, why, why, why. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else, because I had to answer the “why.”

I had amazing teachers who always encouraged me. Ms. Soares taught me math from sixth grade onward. She was one of my favorite teachers. It wasn’t just her teaching. It was just the relationship I had with her, as her student. It was always like, “Yeah, you’re really good. You should try to be more. Do whatever you want.”

I must say that she wasn’t a very encouraging person. She was an abrasive person. Her brand of encouraging was very weird but it worked for me. She was what would be considered completely politically incorrect. She’d say, “You don’t come to school to warm benches.” It didn’t work for a lot of other kids who were intimidated by her. I remember, she’d make my friend cry. But, somehow it worked for me.

I don’t get knocked down by criticism.