Meet Brandon Boudreaux: Physics major
Why did you decide to major in the physics and astronomy department?
My mathematics classes in community college changed how I think about the world. I started with simple algebra and built my way up to pre-calculus and I was set on doing something in math and/or physics. I decided to transfer to Wayne State University to pursue the one thing I thought I was not smart enough to pursue, physics. My goal in life has always been to contribute something, anything, to the body of knowledge humanity has built. The only way to do that was for me to conquer my fear and jump right in!
What do you plan to do after you graduate?
After I graduate, I would like to continue my education in physics as a Ph.D. student. I want to learn how to be a good scientist and do research on the frontier of physics.
What was your favorite class and why?
Classical Mechanics was my favorite class so far. The mathematics behind classical mechanics is truly beautiful. Classical Mechanics built my confidence in problem-solving and was the first time that I felt like I could tackle hard problems.
Who was your favorite professor and why?
I like all my professors, but Sean Gavin has been a great inspiration. He has shown me compassion in difficult times and provided great advice in and outside of physics.
Did you do undergraduate research? If so, what skills did it give you?
I did undergraduate research with Professor Chun Shen related to Quark-Gluon Plasma hydrodynamics simulations. Our goal was to replace computationally expensive simulations with a machine-learning model that can take inputs and produce experimental observables. Machine learning is conducted in the Python programming language and third-party packages. In our case, we used the library PyTorch by Meta which taught me how to use industry-leading technology for machine learning and how to code in Python. Another library, MatPlotLib, was very important for teaching me how to produce plots and graphics that communicate the intermediate and final results of my model. When performing research, it is necessary that you communicate your findings to not only the scientific community but also a general audience. I gained experience writing a grant proposal application to fund my research efforts which required me to communicate science to a general audience.
What was your favorite thing about the department?
My favorite thing about the physics and astronomy department is the community and the atmosphere. The physics department feels present and close-knit. My involvement in the Society of Physics Students has blessed me with the opportunity to be a part of that community. We provide a place for other students to make friends, ask for advice, seek academic help and in general, provide resources and connections to opportunities in and out of physics.
What advice would you give to current students?
Get involved in the department! Joining the Society of Physics Students is great to do! Most importantly though, if you are struggling, please reach out to your professors. Everyone wants to see you succeed and will help you in any way that they can. Physics is hard for all of us, it isn't just you. If you are struggling with mental health, you can always reach out to Wayne State's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). If you have a disability, please reach out to the Student Disability Services (SDS) and see how they can help you. Both of these resources have been integral to my success in physics!