'Be persistent, be passionate, and be true'

Ariel Baksh

Cherry Hill, N.J.

What was your favorite class and why?

Ariel standing in front of a sunset

My favorite class changes every semester as I take more classes within my major. Currently, my favorite course is one that may change my entire career trajectory; Phys 4444: Particle Physics. Professor Yuval Grossman is one of the best professors within the department of Physics, and his love for the subject translates well to his lecture style. It is through a class I previously took with him, Phys 3317: Applications of Quantum Mechanics, that I first felt as if the underlying physical intuition it takes to be a true student of Physics was finally within my grasp. Professor Grossman described the Particle Physics course as though it is a baby's introduction to Quantum Field Theory, which is in my eyes the most beautiful theory in modern-day Physics. Throughout my whole life, I have been waiting for Physics to finally make sense to me, and it is through this course that I feel like I have finally reached that point. When I was younger, one of the first Physics books that I read was about Particle Physics, so it is no small thing to say I have been waiting for at least ten years to take Particle. However, it is through Professor Grossman's teaching and his way of delivering this seemingly incomprehensible thing in a way that simplifies it and has it make sense that makes me fall in love with the subject even more. To me, the theories of Physics are the most beautiful things in the world, and to have them laid out on a chalkboard and be able to comprehend the thing I have been chasing my entire life leads to a feeling that I cannot even begin to put into words.

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

I have had a few extracurricular activities that I deem important to me, namely being a member of the Cornell Astronomical Society, and the Society of Physics Students. I have had the privilege to hold E-Board positions for both clubs as well, being the Treasurer of the Cornell Astronomical Society for the duration of my sophomore year, and the Treasurer then the President of the Society of Physics Students during my freshman, sophomore, and junior year. It is through these two organizations that I learned invaluable leadership skills, and also met some of my closest friends. Both clubs are important to me in different ways, but it is through being the President of the Society of Physics Students that I was able to become closer with the Department of Physics. Through this position, I was able to get to know the current Director of Undergraduate Studies, Professor Tomás Arias, who has provided invaluable support to me as a Physics major. I owe my extracurricular activities gratitude for teaching me important skills, as well as being the mediums through which I got to know the people who made my time at Cornell invaluable.

What have you accomplished as a Cornell student that you are most proud of?

During my time at Cornell I had the privilege to be part of various research groups. Since my sophomore summer, I have been a member of Professor Nicholas Battaglia's research group, in the field of Cosmology. Through his support, and the support of the McNair Scholars Program which I am a member of, I was able to attend the American Astronomical Society's research conference during my junior year, and presented my then-current work. Throughout my time at Cornell, this has been one of my proudest achievements, and the fact that I was able to present my research at a national conference dedicated to Astronomy is still something I view as unbelievable. As a freshman, I had aspirations to do research, but did not think I would be able to do anything substantial. However, as a junior, being in Seattle for AAS was the most exciting and nerve-wracking experience of my life. Looking back, I view this as my greatest achievement, and the highlight of my research career as an undergraduate.

Ariel writing equations on a black board

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

When asked this question, I often think back to myself as a first year student and wonder what would I say to that starry-eyed girl who had no clue what the next four years would bring. As the person on the other end of said four years, I do not think there is anything else to say but this: be persistent, be passionate, and be true. Through persistence, anything is achievable. It is through my persistent pursuit of various things during my time at Cornell that I was able to achieve as much as I did. However, persistence does not come without passion, since the desire to do something must come from a place of affection or devotion. For me, I have always been passionate about Physics, and it is through this passion that I was able to give meaning to my learning, and to hold true to myself, my goals, and my dreams.


More news

View all news
		Ariel Baksh