Richard Strum, Outstanding First Year Physics Student

Majors: Physics and computer engineering

Minor: Mathematics

Hometown: Bay Minette, Alabama

Favorite Experience at UA: I really do not have one single favorite experience but the collective college experience has been fulfilling. I have found that the professors at UA are very open to taking time with their students, and I have really enjoyed the access that I have had to them through the courses that I have taken, as well as, the opportunities that they have provided for undergraduate research. Additionally, time with friends and working on projects with other students has really made my college experience enjoyable. Lastly, one of the best parts of being a student at UA has been the extracurricular activities that I enjoy like intramural sports, rock climbing and club meetings. While many of these activities have been restricted due to the pandemic, I am looking forward to when we are fully able to resume this important part of student life.

Favorite Class: My favorite class was Data Analysis (PH482) offered by the physics department last semester. It solidified my interest in the subject and changed how I look at the world more than any other single course. It gave me crucial experience coding in Python, as well, which seems to be all but required knowledge for engineers and scientists these days. I was interested in the course because of my long-held fascination with rationality and inference which is what drew me to the logical depth and mathematical complexity of physics, and technical training of engineers and physicists that delivers the kind of thinking which can be used to solve problems throughout various disciplines.

Future Plans: My interests are still too broad and unsettled to make a final decision regarding a future career but furthering my education will certainly be part of the plan. Ultimately, I can see myself doing anything from programming to particle physics. I have a special interest in Bayesian statistics, and I‚Äôm very excited to see future developments in AI, so I might pursue something along those lines. However, solving physics problems is one of my favorite pastimes, so any opportunity to do that for a living may prove too tempting to resist.