SFU Undergrad Researcher: Matthew Garayt

Introducing Matthew Garayt from the Department of Physics! 

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Name: Matthew Garayt
Major: Applied Physics, Honors
Supervisor: Dr. Michael Seear, BC Children’s Hospital

Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: Right now, I am still exploring my possibilities, but I would like to work in high-
technology one day, whether it be more at the research level, or the
refining/engineering level. Ultimately, I would like to use the knowledge I have
gained so far in my degree in whatever field I end up in.

Q: How did you get involved in research?
A: I applied to the Science Co-op program and once my job search was underway, I
saw the posting for the position and was immediately intrigued as the description
was not very long. I applied, interviewed, and received an offer in short order.

Q: What have you been working on in your research so far?
A: We research possible alternatives to the traditional diagnosis of respiratory
illnesses in young children. Current accepted methods are not accurate for
children younger than six years old, so based on other research we analyze data
of each patient, collected from a medical monitor, by putting it through multiple
mathematical and statistical algorithms. After we have enough patients, we can
try to draw conclusions on what analyses yield the best results as compared to
the traditional tests.

Q: What is a typical “day in the life” in the lab for you?
A: Arrive at the respiratory clinic early in the morning, continue researching new
methods that might be of use, analyze any raw data that might exist, and take
patients’ vitals’ signs for analysis if we have any for that day.

Q: What’s your favourite course that you have taken so far in your degree?
A: I quite enjoyed Mathematical Methods in Theoretical Physics taught by Professor
Howard Trottier as the course introduced many new, helpful mathematical
concepts that I would later use in other classes while also studying myriad
physical phenomena in a fun way.

Q: If you were a scientific lab instrument, which one would you be?
A: I would have to say a laser as I always try to be as precise as possible; people’s
health or quality of life may be at stake.

Q: Favourite science joke or meme from your field? Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 5.28.04 PM

Q: Who is your biggest science crush?
A: Maybe not a scientist in the truest sense, but Elon Musk. You cannot go wrong
with PayPal, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Hyperloop.

Q: What’s the funniest thing in the lab that’s happened to you?
A: Nothing really funny, but it always seems to be that whenever I need to talk to my
supervisor he would be out of his office, somewhere unknown in the hospital…

Q: What scares you the most in the lab or the field?
A: The tests we perform on people may one day help diagnose real disorders and
diseases, so if there is a bug in the code somewhere there could be bad
consequences.

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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.

Why you should care about gravitational waves

By Jesse Velay-Vitow

On the 11th of February, the Laser Interferometry Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) released confirmation that they had direct detection of gravitational waves. What followed was a lot of phycisists cheering excitedly and many people knowing that something important had obviously happened, but not quite sure about its relevance. Hopefully this blog post will shed some light on why everyone should be excited about this.Read More »