Welcome! My name is Jay Rutledge and I am currently a freshman physics major here at Stony Brook University
I grew up in a small condominium community within the town of Yaphank, New York, a short twenty-five minute
drive from the university. I attended Longwood District schools from kindergarten through high school.
In this fairly isolated suburb, there wasn't all that much for my friends and me to do except spend a great
deal of time in the immediate outdoors: skateboarding, riding bikes through the trails, or wandering
through the woods. By simply exploring in this way I developed a general appreciation for the natural world
and frequently mused about its workings.
This, though, had no real direction or scientific focus until eighth-grade when I took Earth Science. It
wasnt even so much the course itself but rather my teacher who presented science in a way that, for the
first time, showed me just how fascinating it can be as a study. From his demonstrations with a blow-torch
(on a students homework) to hopping from lab-table to lab-table to imitate the phases of the moon, my
identifying as a science kid took hold and kept with me as I decided to follow the AP course progression in
high school. After AP Biology, I swore I wanted to study genetics. After AP Chemistry, I leaned more toward
the physical sciences. After AP Physics, however, I knew exactly which subject I would continue with. Mr.
Qua, who taught this class, was undoubtedly my largest influence in choosing physics as my academic path.
Each day I would enter the classroom, surrounded by eighty-two (now probably pushing one-hundred) Albert
Einsteins, and learn of the beauty of physics. He strived to present physics as the way of thinking and
powerful tool to understand the world that it is, and his energy and passion for the subject diffused into
me as I sat front-row, just dodging a piece of his demo that ejected and hit a member of the second.
I began to expose myself to more physics outside the classroom and also got involved in the
science-research club at my school. Here, I contributed to an ongoing study attempting to track the
migration of Clovis peoples to as far as the New York region, through the finding of projectile points. I
and a few peers presented the poster for this project at Brookhaven National Lab, where at a later time I
also competed as captain with the schools Science Bowl team. Senior year of high school, although already
locked in on physics, I had a great experience with my AP Environmental Science class where I was able to
conduct real out-in-the-field research. We had adopted some several-hundred Brook Trout eggs and set up our
very own in-class nursery. While we monitored their growth, we even made a couple trips to the Carmans
River to take biological and chemical data, a location where these fish are found naturally and into which
we ultimately released those who were fit. This was a great opportunity and further exposed me to some
research beyond the traditional classroom setting.
Intending to become a physics major, I was excited to choose Stony Brook, a top research university located
only a car-ride away. I looked forward to continuing my studies in physics and hoped to find some research
opportunities early on.
How funny and right place at the right time it was when I stood at the Staller box office, just about to
purchase my ticket for the last Stony Brook Symphony Orchestra concert of the fall semester, when an older
gentleman stopped me and offered his wife's ticket; he explained that she couldn't make it that evening,
and said that "the only payment is sitting next to me." Introducing myself as I took my seat, I was amused
to hear that my benefactor was physics professor Harold Metcalf, who I later found out to be the founder of
the Laser Teaching Center himself. I mentioned my interest in physics and eagerness to get involved in
research, and he suggested I explore this website and do some reading on lasers and optics. I never really
had considered this particular field to study prior, but after visiting the Laser Teacher Center
personally, meeting director Dr. John Noé and sitting in on some of Professor Metcalf's Research
group meetings, my interest has grown incredibly. I was shown hands-on by a graduate student how to "walk
the beam" and couple light into an optical fiber.
I later scoured my local Wal-Mart for a cheap laser pointer that I like to shine into the water of my glass
bathroom sink with all of the lights turned off. Light is surely a fascinating thing, and learning more of
its actual study and application has amazed and inspired me in only this such short period of time. There
are many opportunities available to students in the Laser Teaching Center and studying lasers and optics
seems like a great direction to be headed in. I am very excited about this opportunity.