Warm Congratulations to Physics Majors on Invitations to Phi Beta Kappa

The Physics & Astronomy Department is proud to announce that the following department-sponsored physics majors were invited to join the national honor society Phi Beta Kappa for 2022-2023. Via donations from faculty, the department paid the one-time membership dues for all the students. We'd like to congratulate all of the invited students and commemorate their efforts with a few words from their respective professors and mentors:

Sam Farrar

  *   Professor Michael Mulhearn: "It has been such a great pleasure to work with Sam over the past four years.  From a very early stage, Sam took complete control of his research topic, overcoming one technical obstacle after the next, following his own experimental intuition and ideas.  I can't wait to see what exciting progress he will make in the years to come."
  *   Professor Jaroslav Trnka: "Sam was one of the best students I have ever had in my class, showing very deep knowledge of physics, great intuition and curiosity needed to solve difficult physics problem. I have no doubt he will excel in his future career!"

Aravind Kotikelapudi

  *   Professor Mark Goldman: "Aravind has done a tremendous job translating his physics training to a novel field -- computational neuroscience - where he has been studying how reinforcement learning systems can learn to properly discount past rewards. His performance has been stellar, matching that of a graduate student both in the conduct of his work and his presentation of this work to the lab."

Aditya Agarwal (CS and Physics)

Chen Liang (Math and Physics)

  *   Professor Andrew Waldron: "Chen Liang is an exceptional Davis math undergraduate. He is passionate about both math and physics, and has been taking advantage of the Mathematics Department's extensive physics connections and expertise. He was a star student in our graduate Quantum Mechanics class. He also regularly participates in QMAP activities and recently gave a lovely talk on BRST quantization. This is a method where cohomology is used to study systems whose motions obey constraints. If you want to find out more about how to apply your math skills to physics, talk to Chen!"
  *   Professor Kevin Luli: "Chen Liang is one of the best undergraduate math majors I have seen. He started working on a research project with me in the summer of his freshman year (2021). Within a short period, he was able to absorb a significant portion of a recent theoretical paper written by my former PhD student and me. He made substantial contributions to implementing a very complex algorithm for interpolating data by smooth functions with range constraints. The algorithm is first of its kind to achieve various optimality conditions under constraints. Our joint results have been published in the Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics."

Tianjian (James) Zhang, Chemical Physics and Physics

  *   Professor John Rundle: "I came to know James in October 2021, when he joined our group. As an undergraduate research assistant, James impressed me with his learning capabilities, responsibility and dedication towards his work, and scientific curiosity and intelligence. He attended our group meeting every week, listened to presentations that my graduate students are working on, and provided meaningful feedback. James also used his knowledge of programming and graphics to conduct a parameter study on a problem  relating to the Burridge-Knopoff slider block model for earthquakes. James likes to help and encourage others, always has a positive attitude, and it is clear that he is intellectually driven with strong research capabilities. I believe he will thrive as a researcher with the opportunities that will come his way in the future."