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2020 Physics Graduates
Roque Aguon is from Virginia Beach, VA and graduated with a major in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. While taking classes at Tidewater Community College, Roque had some classes in Astronomy and wanted to get more familiar with that specific topic. “I really like the astronomy part of Physics. I love to look at the stars and imagine what is all out there and when we will find all of that out.” For an Independent Study project, Roque helped Dr. Herman create a microcontroller based seismic sensor which helped to detect tiny vibrations in the subsurface. This work contributed to another student's development of a sensitive seismic array that was later deployed in Alaska to perform experiments on the arctic sea ice. If he had more time here with us, he would have enjoyed taking “Dr. Taylor’s General Relativity course…I like space and it would have been really interesting to learn about.” So far, Roque has decided to take a break after four long years of intensive study here at Radford University. He hopes to eventually have a family with at least two dogs! For upcoming Physics majors, he has this to say: “Make sure it’s something that you really want to do. It’s super hard, but not impossible.”
Alex Anderson came to Radford University as a Physics major from Natural Bridge Station in Virginia. He minored in Mathematics and Philosophy and earned his place on the Dean’s list in 2016 and 2019. He joined the Society of Physics Students, serving as Vice President, and the Alpha Chi Rho Fraternity, Phi Beta Chi Chapter, serving as President. As a kid, he enjoyed watching the Science Channel and along with the help of his high school teachers, developed his love for math and exploring topics not covered in his regular classes. He enjoys Physics because, “Physics always felt like a puzzle but a useful puzzle that told you how the universe works.” One of his favorite courses was Meteorology. “The weather and climate are things we take for granted everyday but to be able to study the physical processes they are a consequence of is incredible.” Alex developed several projects during his time at RU. One special project was developing a “Cave Rover” which was inspired by the Mars Rover. He designed and created a remote control rover to explore the caves of the Natural Bridge system, here in Virginia. This rover collected data on the airflow and air conditions of the caverns to develop a picture of the overall atmosphere in the cavern. This rover was also taken to Alaska during an Arctic Geophysics Field Research Course with Dr. Rhett Herman to measure the friction layer of the wind above arctic sea ice. After graduation, Alex will be attending George Mason University to earn his Master of Science in Climate Science. This work will focus on the “construction of climate models and analysis of climate data.” For future Physics freshmen, Alex advises that “…it is totally doable, and all of the professors are more than willing to help you succeed. Try your best and it will work out!”
Joshua Arnold, from Fairfax, Virginia, is another graduate of the Dual Degree program at Radford University. This program allows the student to gain two degrees, Physics from Radford University and Engineering from Virginia Tech. As a high school student, Joshua loved physics and loves that “…physics has so many fundamental principles that are repeated throughout engineering, and I was well prepared when I went over to Tech.” Currently, Joshua is working for VDOT as an Engineering Technician. He plans to move up to another job as a full-time engineer on the east coast, either in the state government as a lab technician or in the private sector as a design engineer.
Utilizing additional time here at Radford University would have seen Joshua studying more of the “…astronomy side of physics and look(ing) at the earth and space side of the curriculum.” His advice for fellow Physics majors just starting out is, “Physics is great if you know that it is what you want to do, meaning you should go into this program with determination to see it through. It can be a difficult subject, but know that the people at Radford want to see you succeed! Reach out to your classmates and professors…”
Coming to Radford University from Council, Virginia, Will Ball majored in Physics and minored in Mathematics. During his time with us he participated in several clubs and organizations including: Radford VEX Robotics Club, the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma.
Will has been interested in “…quantum mechanics, black holes, and all that other exciting stuff since…” he was in his early teens. This curiosity led Will to participate in a “…stream restoration project in the meteorology course… [using] various environmental sensors to take data on the microclimate near a stream for the biology department.” “I personally decided to set up a lightning detector which was then paired with a classmate’s magnetometer to measure the changes in the magnetic field due to various lightning strikes in the area.” This is only one of the many opportunities that students have for research and exploration in the Physics program. One area that Will was unable to take advantage of, due to time restraints, was the particle physics course.
Will’s future includes getting a job within his chosen field and possibly graduate school. We are confident that either option, or others that come along, will end in a successful career for him. Advice for future Physics majors includes: “Make sure that you read the material and try not to miss class if it isn’t necessary. Never be discouraged to ask for help. Try your best to participate in as many research opportunities and independent studies as you can.” These ideals served him well and we know that they will work for you as well!
Liuni Chen came to Radford University from China. She is a graduate of the Dual Degree program with Virginia Tech and so has earned two Bachelor’s Degrees; one in Physics from RU and the other in Engineering from VT. She was a member of Sigma Pi Sigma and worked as a TA for Chinese language classes. Liuni’s high school emphasized math and science which led to her interest in Physics. “What I really like about Physics is that it appears very logical to me. To do well in physics seems quite straightforward after you understand the principles and know what equations should be applied. I really enjoyed Dr. Herman’s electrical and magnetic course, especially the labs.” More time at Radford University would give Liuni a chance to learn another language. She is already bilingual and sees languages as “…fun to learn and a useful skill.” Future plans for Liuni include a PhD program in Mechanical Engineering, “…specifically in dynamic control and robotics.” Once earning her doctorate, her five year goal is to be on a research team concentrating on robotics. Her advice for a successful college career is to plan your courses wisely, starting with freshman year. “…you may graduate earlier or with multiple majors!”
Teagan Eaker joined us from Chesapeake, Virginia RU was originally a back-up choice for Teagan until she learned about the Dual Degree Program in which she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Radford University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from Virginia Tech. With two degrees under her belt in only five years, Teagan and her fellow Dual Degree students are very attractive to future employers.
“RU Physics gave me the confidence to continue on to VT with my head held high and knowing that I could hold my own in both the physics and engineering curricula…” During her time with us, Teagan interned at Lifenet Health and Coastal Podiatry. Some of her research centered on analyzing “…the effects of pre-cycling tendons that are commonly used in ACL grafts before pulling them to failure in a tension test.” If she were able to spend more time here she would have liked to study General Relativity or Quantum Mechanics, upper level physics classes in which she would have excelled.
Armed with two degrees, Teagan was able to accept a “…job as a mechanical engineer at the Norfolk Naval Ship Yard…” where she will be working on U.S. submarines. Her five year plan has her staying with the defense industry or possibly “…getting into the biomedical field…” which she originally planned to pursue. Encouraging words for future freshmen Physics students is to “Get to know as many people as you can while you are there because these people will be there for you throughout your whole time in college…Everyone wants you to succeed…” Teagan certainly lived her advice and we are confident that she will continue to succeed!
Hailing from Virginia Beach, Alden Ewell earned a Bachelor’s degree in Physics with a minor in Math. He originally signed up for the dual degree program with Virginia Tech but eventually “…developed a passion for Physics, here at Radford.” Alden thanks his professors here at Radford University for “…bringing their enthusiasm to the classroom every day…” With their love of the subject, Alden was able to explore several areas of Physics. One area that he would have loved to spend more time with is Astronomy. “…the subject matter is so interesting and the astronomy professors at Radford are amazing.” Using his Physics degree Alden is looking forward to exploring different career paths. We are confident that Alden will find a place to use his degree and further his passion of Physics!
Michael Hess came to Radford University from Roanoke, Virginia. He Majored in Physics and Minored in Astronomy. Between these two disciplines, Michael worked hard to earn the title of Dean’s Scholar for Spring 2019. He is also a member of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, as well as, being a TA (Teaching Assistant). In between all of the work and activity, Michael was able to assist Dr. Herman in “…designing and testing a homemade micro-resistivity array which uses electrical signals to look into the ground.” This data gathering equipment was taken to Utqiagvik (ne' Barrow), Alaska in 2018 and will be refined and used again during future research trips. Being a key design engineer for leading-edge technology is only part of the exciting things that Michael has been able to participate in while at RU. Research that he has been doing since he arrived in the Physics program allowed him to travel to the American Geophysical Union’s Fall meeting in Washington D.C. International physicists were able to see Michael’s work and appreciate the “…extreme emphasis [on] the real world applications to everything we learned…” Looking forward to becoming “…an active part of the Astronomy community,” Michael is ready to use everything he has learned at Radford. Equipping our students to succeed in their studies, as well as life after school, is a personal goal of everyone who works at Radford University. One life skill that Michael will take with him is this: “The most important thing I learned about Physics is that it is a skill that requires practice. It is not something that some people can do and others just can’t. Solving problems in Physics should be treated the same as playing an instrument. It will require practice and will be difficult. " His main advice for new Physics majors is, "Stay on top of any work your professors assign. Falling behind in work is the biggest problem I have seen new Physics majors have."
From Alexandria, Virginia, Conner Parks came to Radford University with a desire to pursue a Physics degree. While here, he minored in Mathematics, served as President of the STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) Club and was an Academic Coach in the Harvey Knowledge Center.
High school teachers can make so much difference in a student’s life as Conner came to know during his time there. His teachers created a love of Physics in Conner that he eventually decided to pass on to others. Research opportunities afforded Conner the chance to “…join Dr. Herman and other students on a research trip to Utqiagvik (ne’ Barrow), Alaska, where we did various research projects out on the Arctic sea ice.” In addition to the projects themselves, Radford students are given the chance to present their research data on a national and international stage. Conner was able to attend and present at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference which gained him valuable experience speaking to and interacting with Physicists across the country.
After his hard earned Bachelor’s degree, Conner resolved to help others learn to love learning. He is currently enrolled in Radford University’s Master of Education program and will go on to teach other students with his license to teach in Virginia.