SFU Undergrad Researcher: Joseph Lucero

Next up in our series of brilliant SFU undergrad scientists, we have Joseph Lucero of the Department of Physics!

Name: Joseph Lucero
Major: Biophysics
Year: Fourth
Supervisors: David A. Sivak, Leonid Chindelevitch

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Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: In an ideal world I would like to become a doctor of some sort! PhD or MD, whichever one comes first, I’m not really that picky haha.

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far? What is your research about?
A: The Physics Department here at SFU has a program called “Adopt-A-Physicist” that helps first-year students get exposed to research. I was paired with the Sivak Theoretical/computational biophysics group and began getting involved in research, albeit in a passive sort of way: in my first year I sat in on the group’s weekly meeting and learned how theory-based research was conducted, while simultaneously reading related scientific literature outside of these meetings. After a year, this passive role transitioned into a more active one where I began my own research project.

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: A day in the lab for me usually involves one of three things: debugging code and running numerical simulations, analyzing the outputs of these simulations, literature review, and speaking with other members of the group or my supervisor about things that I am stuck on.

Q: What will you be working on this summer?
A: This summer will be a sort of departure for me, as my summer research project will be in Computer Science with the Chindelevitch group as opposed to my usual home in Biological Physics with the Sivak group. My summer research project involves developing a novel method/algorithm that is able to construct tuberculosis (TB) phylogenies and be applied to a large collection of existing TB data.

Q: What’s your favorite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: I would say that my favourite course out of the ones that I have taken so far, would probably be Physics 384: Mathematical Methods of Theoretical Physics. It was a very interesting course that introduced me to the mathematical techniques used by physicists every day and it served to unlock the sections of the research literature which, before I took this course, were impenetrable simply because I lacked knowledge of what all the symbols meant and the methods that they used.


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