Particle physics research

Major in mathematics to conduct research in theoretical physics at MIT

Hang Su ’23 has participated in several research projects with mentor professors at the University of New Haven and beyond. This summer, she will work with a mentor at MIT as part of her highly competitive MIT Summer Research Program.

March 13, 2022

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Hang Su ’23 (right) with PhD students and lecturers in theoretical physics at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium presenters’ dinner at Rice University.

Hang Su ’23 has always been fascinated by physics and how it helps explain the natural world. Eager to learn as much as possible about how the world works, she hopes to have a significant impact on our understanding of physics and cosmology.

Specializing in mathematics – something that plays a vital role in physics – Su is also interested in cosmology because she is fascinated by how it explores the most fundamental components of the natural world on such a large scale.

“It’s both philosophical and logical,” says Su, who is minoring in physics. “It excites me to be able to experience how the world works from the tip of my pen. It gives me the power to seek out what’s out there without leaving Earth.

“It boosted my confidence”

As part of his Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) project last summer, Su conducted research that challenges particle-based theories and expands on how a 5-dimensional hypersphere embodies the properties of dark matter. and dark energy. She worked under the mentorship of Nikodem Poplawski, Ph.D., and Kevin Green, Ph.D.

This summer, Su will conduct her research at MIT, where she will conduct theoretical physics research on cosmology as part of the MIT Summer Research Program (MSRP). A highly competitive program for undergraduates, the MSRP allows students to conduct research under the mentorship of MIT faculty. Su’s work in this program has parallels with his SURF research.

“I hope that in my lifetime I can help establish a comprehensive standard model that incorporates dark matter.”Hang Su ’23

“My experience with SURF has been the foundation of my research journey,” said Su, originally from China. “I learned invaluable skills working with world-class physicists. The University of New Haven prepared me well academically and mentally for a challenge like this. The patience and support of faculty members, along with my classes, have empowered me to achieve my goals.

Su also presented his SURF research to an audience of highly respected professors and doctoral students at the Gulf Coast Undergraduate Research Symposium (GCURS) at Rice University. At the conference, she received great feedback, networked, and attended workshops and lectures on applying for graduate school. This experience offered him an exciting opportunity to work on a research project with a cosmology group.

“It was my first research conference where every presenter was in the area of ​​theoretical physics,” she said. “It boosted my confidence and helped me find a group of like-minded people from around the world.”

“Patience and perseverance”

One of the speakers, a Harvard faculty member, discussed the landscapes of biological physics — something Su says helps him in his current research in chemistry with Dequan Xiao, Ph.D., and Chong Qiu, Ph.D. As part of her research, she reproduces molecular clusters using various computational methods.

In addition to her research at the University, Su is involved in theoretical research in cosmology with a mentor from Rice University. As a lead author, Su investigates the properties of vector rotating oscillators using numerical simulations.

Su says her time as a loader prepared her to conduct complex and important research. She is also grateful for the flexibility of her degree which she says she can “tailor” so that it best supports her career goals and future success.

“Dr. Yasanthi Kottegoda, my advisor, gave me very specific ideas on how to get to know many areas of mathematics well,” Su said. “It helped me connect my classes to the research projects I Having significant undergraduate research opportunities is essential for an academic career, and my time at the University of New Haven taught me to be disciplined and to deal with the downsides, as well as the success.

Su is continuing the research she did through her SURF project and will present her findings at the National Undergraduate Research Conference this spring. Her goal is to learn as much as possible while building a solid foundation that she hopes will allow her to understand theories that many physicists find baffling. Perhaps she will one day develop her own theory of how the natural world works.

“A lot of people think studying math is hard – and it is indeed hard,” she said. “But I believe that to be successful in any field, it takes patience and perseverance. I hope that, in my lifetime, I will be able to contribute to the establishment of a complete standard model integrating dark matter.