We encourage undergraduates to participate in research in any field — including the arts, humanities, social sciences, communications, and sciences. If you could spend one semester researching a specific topic that interests you, in the hope of making at least a small contribution to our understanding of that topic, what would you choose to research and why?
As an individual fascinated with the universe and the potential questions it poses, I would quickly jump at the opportunity to spend a semester researching theoretical astrophysics. In this capacity, I have long considered academic study as occupying a duality that allows for personal growth and contributions toward advancing the human condition. Being put in a position where my work could help advance humanity would truly mark the pinnacle of my academic career at this point in my journey. The universe has long been a topic that has captivated human beings. Stephen Hawking’s modern classic, A Brief History of Time, attests to the magnitude of this statement as a non fiction work that occupied a coveted position on the London Sunday Times best seller list for 237 weeks while also having been translated in over forty languages. Quite simply, statements like “Where did we come from?” And “Why is the universe the way it is” are quite dear to the essence of many. The potential for astrophysics, as a field significantly influenced by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, holds with it the potential to unlock some of the greatest mysteries that have long been associated with the human experience. As a young child, I cannot recall the first time I glanced to the stars with wonder and amazement. However, I can vividly recall looking upwards with reverence and natural inquisitiveness. Much to the sometimes annoyance of my family members, my brief glances into the universe were generally followed by a series of questions that were difficult for the average person to answer in a manner that would satisfy my wonder. As I advanced in my educational career, I strove to take the most rigorous physics and science courses my school offered, as I developed a greater understanding of the physical world, my infatuation with understanding the universe continued to grow. Now into my college career, an opportunity for building upon my natural inquisitiveness and academic foundation presents itself as an exciting prospect that can not only expand my horizons, but also potentially contribute to research related to the many dynamics of theoretical astrophysics. Carolina, as an institution that encourages undergraduates to participate in research in fields that pique our curiosity, has become a potential vessel for undergraduates to expand academics from beyond personal growth to a potential contribution to the greater knowledge advancement of the entire discipline. Not so far from the young child that looked to the universe with awe and amazement, I hope my academic career and research in the field of theoretical astrophysics will not only be characterized by complex theory and equations, but by fulfilling the natural human desire to want to learn more about oneself and our place in the galaxy. As a result, any opportunity that would potentially allow me to even make the slightest contribution to the greater understanding of the human experience would be a rewarding and welcomed one.