Now what? Emily Rettich graduated high school and wasn’t sure what her next step should be. After a few years off, Emily enrolled at UFV in the area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) working towards a degree in Physics.
It wasn’t until year two when Emily discovered her passion for physics and her draw to theories and experiments rather than just the collection of information. She began a research assistant (RA) position with a primary focus of developing electron schematics. “It was interesting to learn how to do…and how different parts should be wired and connected to each other.” This 8-month position amplified Emily’s interest in research.
Having the opportunity to merge her passion for physics with research, in year three Emily worked on a “complicated particle physics theoretical problem.” The research position began with learning about particle physics, moving to writing out the problem along with computer code to analyze the problem then concluding with charting data results. “I really enjoyed being able to work on physics over the summer. I usually work café jobs; it’s enjoyable to do something in my field of study.” Completing a research assignment start to finish encouraged critical thinking and promoted analytical skills through applied learning in addition to expanding field knowledge outside of the classroom.
"The overarching goal of Emily's summer research was a better understanding of the strong interaction, the force responsible for holding atomic nuclei together. More specifically, Emily was working to calculate properties of hybrid mesons, a collection of subatomic particles conjectured to exist that are actively being searched for by the GlueX experiment at Jefferson Lab in Virginia," explains physics professor and RA supervisor, Dr. Derek Harnett. Impressed by the extraordinary work produced, Dr. Harnett assisted Emily in applying for an undergrad research scholarship where she was one of five successful recipients. The Canadian Institute for Nuclear Physics (CINP) rewarded the high-level research experience with national recognition awarding Emily a $5000 scholarship.
Working as a Research Assistant offered more than employment. Emily gained valuable skills contributing to career goals while facilitating the exploration of research-related career prospects within her field of study.
So, what’s next for Emily Rettich? “(Following graduation,) I really want to go to grad school and continue research, working in nuclear power (building) new kinds of technology that would bring clean energy. It seems like a good way for me to contribute to the fight against climate change, provide more accessible energy and help impoverished countries.”