Meet SOARS Scholar Nathaniel Wrobel
Undergraduate Physics Major, College of Science Ambassador and SOARS Scholar
1. What attracted you to pursue a degree in science?
I was drawn to the unknown that physics offers us. To me, physics is the way to push boundaries and venture into new places.
2. What made you choose to major in physics?
I chose LSU Physics and Astronomy because of the broad range of opportunities available. I previously knew I wanted to major in physics due to my innate fascination with the natural world around me, and LSU’s department felt like the right choice. When I am on campus, I feel that I can study around like-minded individuals in an environment that pushes students each day.
3. Did you always have a love for science?
I have always been curious about the world, but it became aware to me that I was interested specifically in physics when I visited NASA’s facility in Houston years ago. While there, I had the privilege of observing the early models of SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule as well as Boeing’s Starliner capsule. On the day of my visit, each company was showcasing its models to NASA, and I was able to see the scientists and engineers from each company that had a hand in the designs that would one day return Americans to space from our soil. The ingenuity behind this technology inspired me to follow this career path and one day contribute to the advancement of human knowledge.
4. What do you like most about LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy?
LSU’s Department of Physics & Astronomy offers a vast selection of opportunities to its students, which I find to be very desirable in hard science. This allows everybody a chance to get involved and gain hands-on experience, which is a crucial step in each student’s journey. Not only does the department have a large number of opportunities, but these opportunities can be found in any area of interest and are accessible for a student of any background.
5. What is your area of research?
I do computational research where I work with quantum computing. The main goal of my research is to test whether a quantum machine learning environment is capable of classifying quantum mechanical data. This would essentially allow us to find more efficient methods of studying quantum systems.
6. How would you describe your summer research experience?
My summer research was very exciting. Being a part of the REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program enhanced my knowledge in quantum mechanics and coding without having any prior experience in either field. Also, gaining insight into how research is conducted was very fascinating, and I feel that I was able to contribute to a project that I had no previous knowledge on. Coming out of my summer research experience, I feel more prepared to take on future challenges that I will come across throughout my career in science.
7. Do you have any faculty mentors? If so, how have they helped you along your academic journey?
My mentors for the summer REU program were LSU faculty members, Ka-Ming Tam and Juana Moreno. Over the summer, I was able to gain constant feedback and suggestions about my work. A large number of resources were provided so I can gain the necessary background knowledge, and any questions I came across were answered very quickly. Once I was brought up to speed, I was given suggestions on different methods to try. This includes ideas on how we can improve the efficiency of my work, and I was able to find an answer to our question within the program’s timeframe due to the support.
8. What made you interested in joining the College of Science ambassador team?
The idea that I could work alongside a team of like-minded science majors was an opportunity I knew couldn’t be missed.
9. What is the best part about being a SOARS scholar?
Being a part of the SOARS scholarship at LSU has been an amazing experience, and it has allowed me to feel a sense of community within the College of Science. SOARS has worked to educate its scholars about the many great resources at LSU.
Overall, my college experience has been great, and I thank the SOARS program for contributing a large amount to the involvement I have here on LSU campus.
10. If you could give any piece of advice to yourself as an incoming freshman, what would it be?
If I could offer my freshman-self advice, I would tell him to take advantage of LSU’s programs.
11. Any advice that you would give upcoming students that want to pursue a science degree?
If you aim to pursue a degree in science, you have to get involved. While attending class and studying is important, the act of being a scientist can only be learned through experience. Whether or not you feel qualified to join a research group should not keep you from putting yourself out there. Make it known that you want opportunities, and opportunities will come around to you.
12. What inspires you to continue your degree?
I am inspired by the men and women of the past that tasked themselves with advancing our understanding of the universe. The technology we have today would not be possible without the vast amount of work that was done before me, and I feel it is necessary to continue pushing our understanding of the universe if we want to continue improving our way of life.
13. What are some of your long-term goals? (career, academic goals)
I am very interested in the application of physics, and I would love to work in the field after my undergraduate program where I can apply what I have learned to real-life problems. Another option I am considering Is continuing my education in a graduate program as the idea of research becomes an interest of mine.
14. What’s one word you would use to describe your experience as a student of the Department of Physics & Astronomy?
Article by Angel Willie
Digital Communications Student Worker, LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy
Senior, LSU Manship School of Mass Communications