Reedies Bring Home Physics Presentation Awards

Students presented their research at the American Physical Society Meeting last month in Minneapolis.

By Faolan Cadiz ’25 | April 26, 2024

Three students, Valerie Wu ’24, Natalie Rogers ’24, and Rubayat Jalal ’26, attended the American Physical Society Meeting last month in Minneapolis, bringing home two undergraduate presentation awards. The five-day long conference provided a space for over 10,000 physicists, from undergrads to PhDs, to come together and discuss their research.

Fourth-year physics major, Valerie Wu, presented her summer research on non-invertible symmetries—operations that are useful in understanding fundamental forces in physics, like electromagnetics and gravity. This was her third year attending the conference and first time presenting, though the step up wasn’t too intimidating. “It felt less like a lecture and more like a conversation,” said Valerie. Reed Professor Noah Charles assisted in her research and heavily encouraged her to present her work; she also collaborated with Professor Ben Heidenreich at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

The meeting was a cross-disciplinary symposium that allowed for the junction of many different areas of physics. While Valerie’s work was more mathematical and theory-based, Rubayat Jalal, a second-year physics major, presented experimental research on her ongoing laboratory work. Rubayat has been working in Reed Professor Jennifer Heath’s lab for over a year, studying the electrical properties of an organic polymer—a synthetic substance made of particles—that was prepared by collaborators at the University of Portland. Their goal is to use the material to convert heat energy into electrical energy.

The conference was a great opportunity to network and create connections with professionals in the field, and this was not lost on the students. Heath expressed how impressive they were, commenting that “they were polished and professional, and did a wonderful job representing Reed.” This is an example of Reed’s commitment to fostering undergraduate collaboration, endeavors, and accomplishments.