Ryan Beams

Graduation Year: 2005
Major(s): Physics
Current position: Ph.D. student at the University of Rochester

Please describe your life journey since you graduated from Wheaton College.

Currently I am a second year graduate student at the University of Rochester studying nano-optics. My first year consisted difficult, but doable, course work. Following my first year I joined a research group and began my Ph.D. research on quantum dots using low temperature microscopy and spectroscopy. The second year was less focused and more stretching as I was taking classes, researching, and working as a teaching assistant. All of these were important, but it was impossible to fully commit to any of the tasks. Currently I am researching and enjoying the summer. Outside of work my wife and I are involved in a local church, we spend time with friends, and are exploring the city Rochester.

In what way has your Wheaton education in physics or engineering prepared you for your current (or past) job?

Despite not having taken as many physics courses as students from larger universities, I found that I was very well prepared for graduate school. In my first year I was able to apply skill acquired at Wheaton and the method of thinking to new subject matters with great success. I feel that the small class size and close contact with the professors created a strong foundation in physics and problem solving techniques as well as relationships that would have been difficult to form at a university. Undergraduate physics should primarily provide a skill set that can be applied to various situations in graduate school or the work place and accomplishes this effectively.

Do you have any words for young students considering a physics or engineering major?

Physics is a challenging major, but well worth the struggles. Regardless of your final career path the problem solving skill and work ethic developed by majoring in physics will serve you well anywhere you go.

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