I have lived in Plymouth, Minnesota for all my life. About fifteen miles northwest of downtown Minneapolis, Plymouth is your ordinary Midwest suburban area. According to Money Magazine, it is also the "best place to live" in America.

Science and mathematics have captivated me since elementary school. When school was in, my teachers fascinated me with eloquent explanations about the workings of the world. When school was out, I launched bottle rockets and experimented with paper airplanes in various summer science camps. In middle school, I looked forward to science and math class every day. High school courses introduced me to the quantitative aspects of scientific study.

Sometime during those early years, I came to the realization that science and mathematics are not something we study because our teachers told us to. Rather, they are a means to an end to explain how natural phenomena occur so predictably in our world, our universe. During my junior year of high school, this fact really grew on me. My physics class applied the universal language of mathematics to explain the universal workings of the universe. Kinematics, fluids, electricity, magnetism, optics all of these were explained in terms of equations and rules anyone could understand. I had always known that math is useful, but studying physics really helped me realize the specific ways in which it is.

I didn't really know what topic of physics interested me the most until I began looking for a research mentor at the University of Minnesota early in my junior year. I explored numerous departments, including aerospace, mechanical, materials, and chemical engineering. When Professor David Blank showed me around his ultrafast spectroscopy lab in the Department of Chemistry, I knew that was where I wanted to explore. He has two mode-locked femtosecond laser tables, each plastered with mirrors, lenses, gratings, and crystals, each running pump-probe spectroscopy experiments. In addition to chemistry, physics is also a big topic in Blank's lab. A strong understanding of optics is required to set up experiments properly. Most excitingly, I was able to directly apply the topics I learned in class to actual, hands-on lab work.

Why did I choose optics? Light is all around us. It is the basis of a fundamental sense. Electromagnetic radiation can do what classical mechanics cannot: It can transfer energy through space almost instantly, without physical contact. I find it fascinating to investigate the implications of this.

In addition to science and math, I also love photography, film production, airplanes, computers, typography, and running.