- #1

TaylorRatliff

- 20

- 0

I'm majoring in Physics at UT Austin, and am halfway through my third year. I plan on finishing in four years, and going to graduate school for physics, and taking the academic route. At this point I have completed all of the introductory courses, Classical Dynamics, Modern Physics ( formerly Quantum I, a kind of survey course), as well as "Junior Lab." with straight As in my physics courses. My mathematics courses have included calculus, differential equations, vector cal, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, and complex analysis, with mostly As. Next semester I plan on taking quantum 2, statistical mechanics, electrodynamics, and an upper division course in scientific computation in matlab. This schedule can change if taking other classes would benefit my work.

I have managed to make my schedule next semester as time-efficient as possible, having all four classes back to back on MWF as to optimize time spent doing research on campus. This semester, as well as over the summer I worked in a bio-physics lab (entirely within the physics department, center for nonlinear dynamics) and tutored introductory physics for the department. My schedule was a nightmare, I had way too much stuff going on, and I don't feel like I did any of it particularly well. Next semester I will not be tutoring, or working in the same lab. I would like to find a lab or theoretical group I would be better suited in, or perhaps tutor more advanced courses.

My experience in the lab I worked for has led me to believe I should pursue theory, or at least a field of experimental physics in which the projects focus more on the physics and not the engineering of an apparatus. I simply am more satisfied by pursuing problems directly, and I feel that is also what I would excel at. I don't have the patience, or the craftsmanship to spend time in machine shops.

Theoretical physics however does not seem well suited for undergraduates to study, because of the background required. Does anyone know of particular fields or types or research in which undergraduates such as myself can contribute more directly, or have any other advice?

Thanks,

Taylor Ratliff