Meet Our Seniors: Class of 2021

Student News

Take a moment to learn a little about each of this year’s graduating seniors. Though they all share a passion for physics, their interests and outlooks are as unique as they are. This year, the students were photographed by one of their own, Rahul Shrestha ’21, whose combined love of science and art led him to master the technique of combining light sources to capture these beautiful images in our own planetarium.

Meaghan Accarino

Meaghan Accarino ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.A.)

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Favorite Quote: “My cabbages!” - The cabbage merchant from Avatar the Last Airbender

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

The skyscraper problem. I had heard so much about it that it seemed extremely daunting and I thought it would be nearly impossible. I happily found out that I was wrong! I felt extremely accomplished after finishing it!

What was your favorite physics class and why?

I really loved Math Methods! I found it so interesting to fully delve into the math behind physics. It was one of the hardest but that’s why it was so much fun!

Marco Balic

Marco Balic ’21

Major/Minor: 
Math (B.S.), Physics Minor

Hometown: Westlake, Ohio

Favorite Quote: “Keep shining my bright star!” - Anita Balic (the Best Mom in the World)

What is your best memory of your time here?

Spending time with so many wonderful people I’ve met here - plus, living in a single as a senior! Woohoo!

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Modern Physics with Dr. Doty! It gave me a huge appreciation for theoretical physics and its relationship with mathematics.

What are some of your other interests?

Number theory, making/listening to dance music, piano composition, bird photography, and video games!

Anything else you’d like to add?

My philosophy includes: Be you. Dream like a kid. Love everybody – including yourself – because God does, too. Celebrate the beauty in everything with a die-hard passion.

Medha Lallbeeharry

Medha Lallbeeharry ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.), Economics (B.A.)

Hometown: Quatre Bornes, Mauritius

Favorite Quote: Everything happens for a reason, and that reason is usually physics.

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

The Physics major was and still is challenging, but equally fun.

What is your best memory of your time here?

Watching the sky and the planets from Swasey observatory.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Electronics! I just loved the idea of being able to construct anything you want. Never thought earning 4 credits could be so fun.

What are some of your other interests?

Eating shrimps, dancing, learning new languages

Anything else you’d like to add?

The greedy people get the most. So, don’t be afraid to ask for anything that you need, whether it is for more food in Curtis or questions in class. Just ask and you shall receive ;)

Simon Liu

Simon Liu ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.)

Hometown: Fuzhou, China

Favorite Quote: Exam is the time to demonstrate what you learn.

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

Doing several different tasks during a short period of time and do everything well.

What is your best memory of your time here?

Doing summer research with a professional and experienced faculty. Compared to classroom learning, summer research is a totally different way of learning. It cultivates the independent, problem-solving skills, provides chances to explore the scientific research and see if you like it.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

PHYS 211, Electronics. A wonderful experimental course. In this course, I could apply theoretical understanding of electronics into practical circuits designs. Also, I enjoy doing lots of creative project designing and working closely with faculty.

What are some of your other interests?

Taking different models of commercial aircrafts.

Anything else you’d like to add?

College is one of the most precious periods in life. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes and try to make mistakes. Try to do something you did bad before, do something you never did before, do what you never imagine you can do.

Aayush Nema

Aayush Nema ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.), Philosophy

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Favorite Quote: Dr. Doty, on solving the Schrodinger Wave Equation for a finite square well, “Have confidence.” Remy, earnestly looking at me, “Is that a variable?”

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

The Skyscraper problem.

What is your best memory of your time here?

Helping host the Apollo 11 landing silver jubilee celebration and feeling like a kid again.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Modern Physics with Doty because there was hardly a day I didn’t walk out of class with my mind blown. (Modern with Doty also builds character, as the rest of the seniors can attest.)

What are some of your other interests?

Whenever I’m not doing either Physics or Philosophy, first of all, I’m surprised. And then I use up most of my time reading, cooking, or watching Chelsea matches.

Quinn Plaga

Quinn Plaga ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.)

Hometown: Grove City, Ohio

Favorite Quote: “A man either lives life as it happens to him, meets it head-on and licks it, or he turns his back on it and starts to wither away.” - Dr. Boyce, The Menagerie, (The Cage)

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

Carrying my mini-fridge into my dorm room - LOL. In all seriousness, probably the most intimidating part of college for me is balancing schoolwork, socialization, extracurriculars, and personal time. Take my advice, all these things are important, and it’s impossible to get it perfect.

What is your best memory of your time here?

Summer research was extremely fun. It was a great opportunity to work on an exciting physics project, as well as being an excellent time to socialize with friends without the stress of schoolwork. Once the day’s work was done, I didn’t have any stress weighing on me. Would recommend you take a look at summer research!

What was your favorite physics class and why?

I enjoyed all the physics classes; not saying they weren’t stressful, though. Learning physics is like grinding for XP in a video game: it’s a lot of work, but then you get epic-God-tier abilities that make the game far more rewarding!

What are some of your other interests?

Creative writing, medieval fantasy literature, role-playing games, live-action role playing (see the sword in the picture), board games, exploring nature, sci-fi, basically half the nerdy things in the universe…

Remington Ponce

Remington Ponce ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.), German (B.A.)

Hometown: Miami, Florida, USA

Favorite Quote: Dr. Doty, Fall 2020, on the third day of Quantum (for some now-forgotten reason): “Ha ha…that’s where I spend my life. In the land of disappointment.”

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

The first quantum exam. Something like this is naturally a bit daunting, but I put the time and struggle into it, knowing that once I submitted it I could then spend the weekend doing fun things like playing volleyball!

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Electronics without a doubt. Designing and putting together circuits is just so fun and rewarding in itself! Plus, unlike other physics problems, you get to know within 10 minutes if you set up the problem right or not. Not 10+ hours. Definitely not talking from personal experience here.

What are some of your other interests?

I like spending time with friends, listening to the latest rap songs, working out, playing volleyball, and discussing just about anything German-related.

Anything else you’d like to add?

To any student reading this: enjoy your time here, dedicate time to your friends and the things you enjoy just as much as your schoolwork, but always expect highly of yourself and work towards that, no matter how tough it might seem to do so.

Rahul Shrestha

Rahul Shrestha ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.), Math (B.A.)

Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Favorite Quote: Dr. Homan introducing lagrangians for the first time in Classical Mechanics: “Lagrangian mechanics is easy. What I mean by easy…we will make it hard.”

What is your best memory of your time here?

It is hard to pick one, but the Halloween party last year was pretty awesome. Almost all my favorite people were there.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Physics 125 was the most memorable physics class to me. Honestly, it had all the cool physics and none of the struggle of an upper-level physics class. I loved the challenge that the other classes presented but 125 was just more fun. Perhaps I am just nostalgic.

What are some of your other interests?

Some photography, some graphic design (I designed the last 3 yearbooks), some cooking, love to learn in general.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The physics department has been like a family to me over the three years; I feel accepted and appreciated in the department. I have found great mentors and friends as a physics major and crafted some of the best memories of my life. It is hard to put into words how much I dread leaving the department this year or how much the people in it have done for me. As someone whose parents always kept moving from one city to another, where I called home kept changing. I finally feel like I can come back to Denison and particularly to the physics department at any point in my life and it will be there for me. It feels like home.

Sarah Spielman

Sarah Spielman ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics (B.S.)

Hometown: Shaker Heights, Ohio

Favorite Quote: “Science progresses best when observations force us to alter our preconceptions.” - Vera Rubin

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

Taking two physics classes at the same time for the first time (Modern and Math Methods).

What is your best memory of your time here?

Taking thallium data with Dr. Walter until 2am after spending nearly 10 weeks getting our experiment to work, and then publishing that work two years later; also playing paintball with the professors!

What was your favorite physics class and why?

It’s hard to choose between Electronics and Modern: I really enjoyed Electronics because of the labs and all the hands-on and design aspects, in addition to learning about how things work. I also really enjoyed Modern because we went deep into the fundamental ideas of why atoms are the way they are, and the physics was just so different than anything I had ever done before.

What are some of your other interests?

In my free time, I enjoy hiking and anything to do with the outdoors, playing my guitar, baking bread, and playing video games.

Jack Staggs

Jack Staggs ’21

Major/Minor: 
Data Analytics Major with a Concentration in Physics, Physics Minor, Math Minor

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Favorite Quote:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” -Teddy Roosevelt

What is your best memory of your time here?

Getting to meet so many great people.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

Experimental Physics. Since I am a data analytics major, I really enjoyed being able to apply statistical techniques and computer science methods that I learned in other classes to supplement the experiments I did in this class.

What are some of your other interests?

Football and golf

Xinyi Zhao

Xinyi Zhao ’21

Major/Minor: 
Physics, Math

Hometown: China

Favorite Quote: Isn’t it so good to be alive?

What challenge did you overcome that you first found intimidating?

Physics itself, but the problem is I have not overcome it.

What is your best memory of your time here?

Olin Study Room G15A and Cathy’s fruits.

What was your favorite physics class and why?

There is no favorite one, because I love them all. I also wanna know why I love them all. They are so difficult, but I insisted taking physics till now. I think there is no explanation of why I did so, except I really love them. Based on such fact, I made the previous conclusion, even though I have no idea about the reason.

What are some of your other interests?

Handsome boys and beautiful girls. Focus on “handsome” and “beautiful,” not people.

Posted Date 
Monday, October 19, 2020

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