Congratulations to our 2020 graduates!

Graduating Physics Majors, Summer 2020

Top left: Jared Kester, Erica Dykes, Phillip Hegeman, Brian Hybben
Bottom left: Josh Miles, Blake Goehman, Connor Penrod, Tyler Kling

Congratulations to our Physics majors graduating summer 2020! You made it! It is now time to celebrate all the hard work that led to this joyful occasion. The road to graduation is a long, steep climb, so take a moment at the summit to be proud of your accomplishments. We wish you success in your future endeavors! We wish you happiness! Happy Graduation!

May 2020 Graduating physics majors

Dykes, Erica Kling, Tyler
Goehman, Blake Metter, Maxwell
Hegeman, Phillip Miles, Joshua
Hoback, Patrick Penrod, Connor
Hybben, Brian Staver, Nicholas
Kester, Jared Waters, Nicholas

Read our graduating students’ comments to learn more about the physics program:

Question: What is your favorite memory from the physics department?

Answer: There are so many! Of course I had great fun with various Physics events, including our trip to Chicago, but one event that I recall especially fondly was running demonstrations at the Physics Open House last spring. It's always nice to share enthusiasm for physics with the younger generations!

Question: What was your favorite class?

Answer: This is another tough one, but one of my favorites was definitely Nonlinear Dynamics with Dr. Kosztin. It wasn't your typical physics class, but I really enjoyed the material and gaining experience with methods in computation and visualization.

Question: What advice would you give to the younger physics majors?

Answer: I would encourage physics students to reach out more: to professors, to peers, to advisors, to everyone! It's easy to fall into the habit of focusing solely on classwork, but I have found that my experience both in and out of class improved exponentially as I became more connected within the department and university. I know it's easier said than done, but try out club meetings even if you don't know anybody involved, go to office hours even if you could probably find the answer online, and enjoy the company of your peers in class!

Best wishes,

Phillip Hegeman


Favorite department moment - "Weirdly enough, one of my favorite moments was the drive from our Air B&B to FermiLabs. I just remember still being exhausted from the drive and activities the day before, and yet still laughing at 8 in the morning with my good friend, Kayla, as we panicked to get the correct change for the numerous (and sometimes unexpected) tolls along the route. Meanwhile Sean and Lucas were passed out in the back seat, barely stirring even as Kayla and I scrambled to pay the tolls. I am honestly amazed they slept through that car ride."

My favorite class - "Astrophysical Techniques was my favorite class in the department. The course was challenging, but well worth the stress as I learned so much that will carry on as I continue to grad school."

My advice to incoming physics majors-"Even if you don't have to take Physics Seminar, you should if you have the opportunity. It is an excellent way to connect with others in the major, which will be very important later on in higher level classes. Develop your support system and friend group as early as you can by joining Physics Club or Astronomy Club."

Dykes, Erica


Q: What is your favorite memory from the physics department?

A: I had a lot of fun in the Advanced Physics Lab class just because we often initially had absolutely no idea what we were doing but we'd slowly figure it out together through trial and error. For the final project they just handed us an empty research lab and an existing physics experiment and we had to figure out how to make the experiment better in whatever way we chose. It sounds stressful but it was actually a great way to get a taste of what actual research is like.

Q: What was your favorite class?

A: I think my favorite class was actually Planetary Geology. It's a cool intersection of astrophysics and geology, and it was interesting to finally understand how we know what we know about planetary interiors and geological formations.

Q: What advice would you give to the younger physics majors? 

A: Use the physics library on the second floor of the physics building. It's probably got an edition of your textbook in there, and even if not there's a lot of really useful material on the shelves. The front desk in 221 will let you check out the books if you ask.

Best,

Connor Penrod


What is your favorite memory from the physics department?

My favorite memory from the department would easily be the AAS conference trip to St. Louis. There I was able to present the research I had done while also listening to my heart’s content the other lectures from morning to nightfall.

What was your favorite class? 

This is always a difficult question since each class has their own ascetic and content. The astronomy courses offered a new perspective on our place in the universe, while the typical physics courses broke down our world. That being said, I would say my favorite class would have to be Quantum Mechanics. The course challenged me to grow and each lesson was so fascinating to understand.

What advice would you give to the younger physics majors? 

The most general advice, but also the most important, would be to just do your homework as soon as its assigned. Not only does this keep you up to date with the course, but it also diminishes the total amount of stress and anxiety you will feel when you either don’t do it or wait to do it a couple nights prior. It will make your semesters go by so much more smoother.

Thank you for everything,

Brian Hybben


My favorite memory with Mizzou Physics is the days that I spent at the desk that Dr. Wexler gave me in the graduate student office space (room 336?). I had fun running molecular dynamics simulations on Dr. Wexler's computer and being entertained by Todd Lombardi's graduate student life stories while working.

My favorite class in Physics is a close race, but I think that Carsten Ullrich's Introduction to DFT takes the cake. This class has been stimulating, challenging, and has made me feel more in the loop with what today's materials research constitutes than any other physics course that I've taken.

For the younger Physics majors, I would tell them to 1) learn at least 1 computer language as soon as possible. CS 1050 at Mizzou is a good starting point, but other languages like Python or bash would also be good to learn. I would also say 2) get involved in research, and, if possible, try to get a breadth of research experience. This is a great way to help you get a feel for what various varieties of real-world physics work is like, and you also get to learn many things about both your subject area and your professional opportunities from faculty and graduate students.

Finally, if I have no other chance to say it, please let me say that my undergraduate years with Mizzou Physics have been a blast. I have enjoyed collaborating and learning from many faculty and grad students and have grown immensely in my ability to think through problems and my sense of how to contribute my talents to the scientific workforce. I am thankful for all that Mizzou Physics has provided and look forward to hearing about the department's future endeavors!

Josh Miles


My favorite memories during these last few years have been hanging out with SPS and the Astronomy Club. I came to a few SPS meetings back in 2012/2013 when the club had first formed, and I came to a meeting on a whim again in 2019. I'm very happy to see what the club has become and all the great people who have become part of it.

I think my favorite class was Intro to Modern Astrophysics with Angela Speck, both for the class material and the invaluable support she provided during that time.

Some of my advice for younger Physics majors:

(1) Check out SPS and Astronomy Club.

(2) Doing your homework is the best prep you can do for exams.

(3) If you don't understand something or need help with homework problems, go to your professor's office hours or email them to set up a meeting. Needing help doesn't mean you're stupid. Asking for help got me A's when I might not have gotten them otherwise.

(4) A Physics degree is a versatile degree to have. If you don't want to pursue Physics after undergrad, know that there are plenty of other options.

(5) Don't take 8 years to graduate. That's too long.

Jared Kester


Favorite Memory: Learning how to make an RC car from scratch in Carlos Wexler's Electronics Lab

Favorite Class: Physics of Spaceflight with Linda Godwin

Advice for Future Students: Don't be discouraged by the difficulty of the coursework. Things become easier the more interested you become in them.

Kling, Tyler


My favorite memory was the trip SPS took this year to Fermilab and Argonne National Lab. My favorite class was Electronics Lab. The advice I would give to younger physics majors is to take Matrix Theory before taking Quantum.

Blake Goehman