Outstanding Graduates Physics
Tim Beccue '18, a cellist who won first place ($5,000) in the instrumental honors at the Performing Arts Scholarship Foundation finals in April, epitomizes a liberal arts graduate. He spent last summer studying atmospheric fluid dynamics with physics professor Jonathan Mitchell. “We used computational models to examine the influences of certain atmospheric oscillations (waves) near the equator,” he says. He has also used the Westmont observatory to conduct measurements of variable stars and recent comet breakups. “I’m working with Professor Michael Sommermann in the field of astrodynamics, examining spacecraft trajectories to Mars and the numerical techniques required to create accurate models.” Tim and two other Westmont musicians will perform this summer at the Encore chamber music festival in Ohio. “I love working hard with a small group of friends towards a common goal,” he says. “A great example of this is chamber music, which has proven to be a consistent highlight of my time at Westmont. Tim, who also participated on the Westmont in Istanbul program, is applying to graduate schools to study artificial intelligence. “It sits at the focal point of many of my interests, including math and physics, philosophy, psychology and creativity,” he says.
Han Chung '17 is a quiet and really bright student. Transferring into our program he was taking lower and upper level courses at the same time, (including modern physics and quantum mechanics). He’s graded and TA’d for us and became significantly involved in research with Dr. Nishimura. He did significant software work for the research including rewriting the Matlab software codes for desorption data--making it so much easier to analyze the data. He developed excel macros for mass spectral data enhancing data analysis. Finally, he came up with an Excel database method allowing observation of trends in the data that led to publication of their data. Han is a quintessential team player with a servant’s heart and it is a pleasure to work with him.
Aria Hamann '16 combines scientific brilliance with an artistic nature reflected in her double major of physics and art. A Monroe Scholar, Aria has been incredibly accomplished in her time at Westmont. She was one of roughly 20 American Physical Society Minority Scholars nationwide. She did summer research at Harvard University as part of the National Science Foundation REU program. She also did nuclear physics research with Dr. Rogers here at Westmont and at Michigan State. For the coming year she has received a Fulbright Fellowship to work on research at Delft University in the Netherlands. This means she will defer her acceptance to the Harvard Applied Physics PhD program.
Paul Wintz '16 transferred to Westmont in his junior year and has made a profound impact on the Physics Department and the college. He’s been a popular TA in the department, as well as a brilliant violinist in the orchestra and president of Westmont’s Not For Sale anti-human trafficking club. He is minoring in music in addition to his engineering/physics major. Dr. Sommermann, teacher of Paul’s computational physics course, says Paul is currently applying numerical methods for solving partial differential equations in order to model the motion of a bowed violin string, and using a Fourier analysis to show the resulting harmonic spectrum of the wave. This coming year, Paul plans to apply to the Institute of Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University.
While we love all our students, we especially appreciate and honor those who combine brilliance, hard work, a kind and compassionate heart and a sterling character such as our graduate of the year Nathaniel Taylor '15. A member of the Westmont community since being born to proud parents Jim and Jennifer Taylor, Nathaniel has made a deep impression of his own as an outstanding math and physics major. He has been an insightful and sought-after TA for several of our courses. He has also done significant research with Dr. Rogers over two summers, which will soon result in Nathaniel’s co-authorship on a published paper. He plans to pursue a career in software development or perhaps work at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.