Undergraduate research is one of the best ways to learn what the day-to-day life of a physicist is like and a vital component of a graduate school application. Students are encouraged to seek involvement in research as early as possible, including their freshman year.
Students who are interested in seeking research opportunities are encouraged to view the list of Research Areas studied at the University of Maryland. Students should meet with professors face-to-face to gain a better understanding of what Physics faculty do at a university.
Research Profile: Jorge Ramirez Ortiz
Jorge Ramirez Ortiz is a senior physics major.
What kind of research have you done/are you doing at UMD?
I worked with Dan Lathrop on collecting oscillation data from suspension bridge cables, Abolhassan Jawahery on the UMD LHCb Upgrade to assemble, ensure the quality of, and create testing procedures for the detector electronics to be sent to CERN in Switzerland. I spent a summer at the Caltech REU program working with Rana Adhikari on the simulation and modelling of the noise sources associated with the optical cavities used at LIGO detectors. I am currently spending the summer conducting remote research with Flavio Fenton and we seek to develop interactive web-based electrocardiac simulations that will be used to better study electric potentials and ion transmissions in cardiac cells coupled in tissue, as well as used by educators to demonstrate how the heart functions from the cellular level to the whole organ.
Why are you majoring in Physics? What do you want to do after you graduate?
To be completely honest, I chose to major in Physics because it doesn't really feel like a giant scary textbook major. It feels like I'm being given a toolbox with tasks to complete. I am very inquisitive about everything in the world around me and I get a lot of satisfaction from being able to probe physical systems I see. If they're out of my depth or comfort zone then I am still confident I can make appropriate estimates and predictions based on what I do know.
How did you get involved in your research?
I worked with Professor Lathrop as a highschool intern by just reaching out to him, and I was recommended to Professor Jawahery by my guidance counselor since I expressed interest in conducting research. I worked at Caltech LIGO after I submitted an application to their REU program and had strong letters of recommendation from my previous mentors. My current research with Professor Fenton was also part of Georgia Tech's REU program but has since moved beyond that.
What advice do you have for other undergraduates who are considering getting involved in research?
I've received a lot of really good advice from many sources because I make it a goal to ask as many people as many relevant questions as I can. When it comes to getting involved in research, the best advice I got was to never let myself be the one who rejects my application. What that means to me is that many of us undergraduates are either afraid of rejection, afraid of wasted effort, or afraid that we aren't good enough. What that leads to is us not putting in our best effort or even putting in an application at all. I've been accepted to programs that I never even dreamed that I was competitive enough. From that, I learned that I should let the admissions council decide if get in or not, and I won't be the one that decides I can't get in.