How did you decide what area of Physics you wanted to go into for grad school?

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I'm at the end of my junior year and at this point I have no idea what area of Physics I want to go into. I know that for sure I want to go onto grad school but other than that I don't really know what I want to do. I think I'm leaning towards doing theory rather than experiment but I don't know which area. I think theoretical particle physics would be pretty cool but it's also my impression that that's the most competitive area of physics and I'm not sure that I'm smart enough to do that.
 

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  • #2
I am a musician. so, I select musical acoustics for graduate study.
 
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Andy Resnick
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I went to undergrad wanting to do particle physics, and then senior year took a lasers class that changed all that. Went to grad school for optics.
 
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Choppy
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Trial and error.

I started out in undergrad hoping to get into astrophysics. By the time I finished I thought black holes were still pretty cool, but I wasn't entirely convinced of the practicality of studying them - for me anyway.

By that time I developed an interest in plasma physics and inertial confinement fusion, so I pursued that for a master's degree. That wasn't a good fit for me. I did well enough to finish the degree, but over that time I began to figure out that to be really successful, one has to have enough drive to truly engage the field. You have to read about it on your own time, read papers just because you find the material fascinating, not because your supervisor tells you to.

I took up an interest in medical physics because I worked with a post-doc who wanted to transfer into the field and he introduced me to a few problems that caught my interest. I took the opportunity to go to a few medical physics seminars, spoke with a few professors and graduate students in the field and pretty soon I enrolled in a PhD program.
 
  • #5
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Great question man.

One of the professors at Duke basically encourages us to read craploads of papers...it's not easy, but you find that some things stick out. Go further then!
 
  • #6
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I am a musician. so, I select musical acoustics for graduate study.

At which university is that program?
 
  • #7
You have to read about it on your own time, read papers just because you find the material fascinating, not because your supervisor tells you to.

I cannot stress any more.
 

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