My junior year in high school I took a physics class and knew then that I wanted to continue studying physics in college. The following summer I was enrolled at a summer studies program taking astronomy for five weeks and decided that I wanted to concentrate on astronomy and astrophysics.
When I entered RPI, I chose to study physics to address my concerns for the degradation of the environment. I hope that I can make significant contributions to solving the energy crisis in my lifetime. When I first learned of the Accelerated B.S./Ph.D. Program, I immediately saw the program as an excellent opportunity to work with top researchers early in my academic career. My passion for physics and the environment have led me to join Shengbai Zhang’s research group. The group is focused on solid state materials for hydrogen storage applications.
I was drawn to RPI out of a general love for all science. I started at RPI as an undeclared science major because I couldn’t decide what I liked the best. Even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to major in I knew that I wanted to continue my education beyond a bachlor’s degree so the School of Science Accelerated BS/PhD Program seemed like a fantastic opportunity for me.
For the majority of my academic life I have been trying to get ahead. In my middle school days I joined a number of academic clubs to make the most of my education. My freshman year of high-school saw my taking summer courses purely to be on a faster track. Junior year I was introduced to the idea of attending graduate school, and with college credits that I received from The Governor's School for Computational Physics and the University of Tennessee, it seemed like I might get there faster than normal.
I came to RPI in the fall of 2012 as an Undeclared Science major. Although I didn't know what I wanted to major in, I knew that I wanted to continue my education past the undergraduate level. In fact, the existence of the Accelerated BS/PhD program was a large factor in my decision to attend Rensselaer. After experiencing a variety of disciplines, I decided to declare as a Biochemistry and Biophysics major in the spring of 2012. When I received an invitation to the program in the fall of my sophomore year I did not hesitate to apply and was pleased to be accepted.
Coming to Rensselaer, I knew that in order to become successful I would need a strong undergraduate as well as graduate education. From the start I knew that my undergraduate education would be phenomenal, and now the School of Science Accelerated BS/PhD program has allowed me to get a strong graduate experience as well. The ability to start on significant research during my undergrad that would count towards my PhD was one of the main reasons why I decided to apply for this program. There really could not have been a better opportunity than this to try and get the most out of my education.
All throughout my childhood and into high school I was always interested in math and how it related and applied to different scientific fields. My school, however, had very limited options or opportunities to advance my education. In my later years there, I began taking night classes in math at my local community college in order to help me branch out past what my school was able to offer, but even then I was unable to find much opportunity to move my scientific interests forward.
I grew up outside of Rochester, NY and started at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2006. I was accepted in the School of Science Accelerated BS/PhD program in 2007. At first I was worried that the program would dictate the rest of my time as an undergraduate but that was not the case. I was able to arrange my classes so I was able to spend the 2008-2009 school year at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Studying aboard allowed me to experience a different education system and explore a small corner of the world before returning to RPI to complete the second half of the program.
Since childhood I dreamed of becoming a scientist. During High School, I enrolled in all the AP science courses my school had to offer. Torn between my passion for chemistry and biology, I decided to go to college for biochemistry and biophysics. After visiting RPI and learning about their interdisciplinary research, I decided RPI was a great fit for me.