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REU Personal Statement Help?

  1. Dec 6, 2012 #1
    I'm applying to few different REUs this summer, but I just wanted to make sure that I was on the right track, so here's my personal statement and if you guys could just let me know if I should change anything please let me know. Thanks!

    And this is the REU: http://java.engin.umich.edu/ParisREU/Home.html [Broken]

    As a college student, there are certain ice-breaker conversations that I repeat over and over with strangers that I meet. As a physics major, the obligatory “what’s your major?” conversation always follows the same progression: I say, “I’m a physics major” and whoever I happen to be talking to responds with a stare that clearly says, “You must be insane.” While there is some truth to that assumption (anyone who looks at the world around them and asks “why?” instead of accepting it must be at least a little bit crazy), it is that little bit of insanity that drives me to not only search out solutions to problems, but also never stop asking questions.

    I intend on gaining as much research experience as possible during my remaining time as an undergraduate so that once I begin graduate school I will already have a solid experimental as well as theoretical framework to build upon. Since I’ve lived in Florida my whole life, I’ve been lucky enough to be within driving distance of the Space Coast (Kennedy Space Center etc.). While attending the Space Flight Payloads Workshop at the University of Central Florida, I was surrounded by cutting-edge research devoted the the further development of the commercialization of space flight, but every single experiment also has applications on Earth. The project from my own college dealt with accurate measurement of the mesospheric spectral background. In designing a small spectrometer to measure the infrared spectrum from a sub-orbital altitude, my group and I had to figure out how to obtain the best possible spectrum from a device that had to fit very specific size requirements. Although it was a challenge, this project taught me not only the value of thinking outside the box in a research environment, but also how adaptive and malleable the study of optics can be. Within Optics there are tie-ins to the quantum world, electricity and magnetism, and many other areas of physics. I look forward to exploring more unorthodox applications in future research. In the future we might be able to complete stop light instead of slowing it down, or we can engineer new materials to improve the quality of coaxial cables as well as find new ways to manipulate light waves.

    Although I am still unsure as to exactly what I intend to specialize in after undergraduate graduation, there is no doubt that there will be a hefty amount of research involved. I intend to go to graduate school and continue on until I have my Ph. D. For me the most interesting thing about physics is that it truly encompasses everything so what I would like to do is study unexpected applications. By that I mean, solving problems in other fields using physics, such as the 2012 project from this program that focused on the use of electromagnetic pulses to analyze works of art. This past semester (Fall ‘12) I took a course on Optics and became absorbed in the material. It seems that most applications of Optics are an elaborate game of trying to control light completely and since most would consider this impossible, I would consider it an injustice not to try.

    Since I am now in my junior year the time has come for physics to be more than just concepts laid out in a textbook and memorized equations. The use of those tools has allowed me to answer the “how?” of any question, but infinitely more important is the “why?” This is the reason I want to participate in this program. I want to search for an answer, but also understand what that answer means. This REU program will give a chance to get hands-on experience with one of the most far-reaching subfields of physics. This specific program also interests me because of its international component. Science is a global field; there is groundbreaking research being done in all corners of the world and there are obvious cultural differences between the U.S. and the rest of the world. I want to be involved in this opportunity because it will allow me to not only gain valuable academic experience, but it will also provide an outlet to practice discussing physics with people from all over the world. I’ve been to the United Kingdom in the past and I look forward to traveling as much as possible in the future.

    At this point the bulk of my undergraduate career has consisted of absorbing as much information as possible, but now it’s time to put that information to the test. The possible applications with lasers are virtually never-ending and they can also help us explain other physical phenomena. I am confident that participating in the Optics in the City of Light REU program will be the experience of a lifetime (the opportunity to study a beautiful subject in a beautiful city) and will contribute to my future in research.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  2. jcsd
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