Jordan Phillips
Jordan Phillips

I came to CMU as a physics masters student, having just completed my bachelor's in physics at Texas Tech University.

Moving from north central Texas to Michigan was quite a change of climate for me, but I quickly found myself at home here due to the friendly faculty and warm campus atmosphere.

I first became interested in the Science of Advanced Materials program when I took a SAM seminar course on the current issues in the science of photovoltaics. It was seeing the complex interplay between the respective fields of chemistry and physics at the interface of nanomaterials that really grabbed my attention—the following summer I applied and became dual-enrolled in the SAM and physics master's program.

 

The above picture is a 3-D graph of the total
spin density in a radical molecule being
studied. The image was produced using
GAUSSIAN software.

I have been working in Dr. Juan Peralta's research group (Department of Physics) studying molecular magnetism—advancing the understanding of molecular and nanoscale magnetism has great relevance for technology, particularly in the field of magnetic memory storage, where hard disk drives have enjoyed rapid unending growth and sophistication. Working in Dr. Peralta's group has been an enjoyable experience, and it has been uniquely exciting to be using powerful computational methods based on density functional theory to do fundamental research in the field of Chemical Physics.

Materials science is fundamentally an interdisciplinary affair, so it's not uncommon to find yourself rubbing shoulders with biologists, engineers, mathematicians and medical scientists as well. As someone who hails from a pure physics background, it's an exciting opportunity to work with and be taught by scientists from such a rich spectrum of backgrounds.

The effect already has been to round out my understanding of science, providing background knowledge and laboratory experience that are complementary to the more mathematical and abstract training of a physicist.