After such a brief overview of my interests and occupation on the home page, let me flesh out some of that information…
Occupation and Research
I am currently an active Chemistry graduate student/employee en route to a PhD, with research projects focused around computational chemistry topics such as quantum mechanical modeling of promising 2D materials, and reaction network prediction processes. Interestingly, I began my undergraduate career on a completely separate path: I spent about 2 years as an aviation major, and received my Private Pilot’s License in that time for Single Engine Land (SEL) aircraft. My desire for travel drove this first decision and career track, but I learned early on that the pilot’s life does not ensure actually getting to visit all those places that one might get to fly to… So, switching gears back to the sciences (what with my engineering/robotics work back in high school), I found myself in Chemistry!
Nitty gritty details aside, the former project aims to improve researchers’ ability to investigate alloys in 2D to examine emergent properties that the alloy otherwise would not have exhibited; however, working with “slabs” of atoms (i.e. solids) requires many assumptions and varied approaches to simulate in a reasonable amount of time (on the scale of a few days or so), and has therefore been left up to Density Functional Theory (DFT) to handle. DFT’s approach works fairly well, but an emergent field of modeling known as Quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) techniques (VMC, DMC, AFQMC) have shown an improved accuracy over DFT at a similar time scale. Thus, my goal is to work on streamlining QMC methods into a high-throughput code for examining wide varieties of 2D materials simultaneously, and assessing their possibly useful optoelectronic properties.
As for the latter project, this work is part of a much larger overall framework dealing with molecular informatics (i.e. storing data in molecules!). My intention here, working with two others within my research group, is to begin developing an in-house reaction prediction program, that works with specifically a set of compounds known as Ugi products. In order to do this, we will start by simply harnessing and creating ways of scouring research databases for yield/spectral/chemical properties of experimentally made compounds and filtering possible reaction pathways based on that information and a designed rule set. However, future work would be benefited by incorporating machine learning techniques on the incoming large datasets (that we scrape from databases and generate on site).
Interests and Hobbies
Outside of my research work, I pride myself on a range of hobbies and an ever present curiosity for something new, but in recent years I have nailed down a few in particular, notably: martial arts, languages, cooking, and games (both the board and electronic variety).
I have studied Ed Parker’s Kenpo since I was a wee toddler (thanks to my 6th degree black belt father, who has owned a Kenpo school, SSMAC, for many years), and only recently began studying Kokikai Aikido (光気会合気道) at Broad Street Dojo when I moved away to grad school. On the whole, I’ve spent about 16 years practicing martial arts (I don’t count the toddler years of waddling around a dojo floor in the evenings…). Although, nothing grabbed my attention quite as thoroughly as the cultures and languages behind these arts.
Language, in particular, drew me in quickly, but I didn’t have much opportunity to explore it until high school (for the full story, check out my first blog post in “Exploring Languages” here!). However, being consistently surrounded by Eastern logograms and ideologies in the martial arts world greatly influenced my interests: I’m presently spending time brushing up on my Japanese reading and writing skills using apps such as Duolingo, Memrise, Anki, and a book called Remembering the Kanji written by James W. Heisig (which I highly recommend for anyone trying to pickup Japanese, and he has recently published another on Chinese Kanji/Hanzi which uses similar techniques). Much of the “Exploring Languages” blog will revolve around thoughts that come to me while working with these mediums.
Now, if I’m discussing different languages in other cultures, there is no way I can miss out on describing their food! Living nearer to city life than I ever have before has given me access to an enormous spread of cuisines stretching across cultures: Greek and Italian to Thai and Japanese, I continue to find new and wonderfully unique food across even my local region (with, of course, some Americanization). I’ll review and comment on these locations as I visit them (sometimes under first impression, and sometimes after multiple visits) in my “Travel, Cuisines, and Me” blog, along with food I’ve had and will have during my excursions within and outside the US.
Games are a pastime enjoyment, one I utilize highly to engage with friends who are far away. RPG, FPS, platformers, racing, MMO… I’ve played a gambit of games over the years on the computer or otherwise electronically; however, when I get the chance, I try and play board/card games (usually strategy) such as Munchkin, Tokaido, Forbidden Desert (& Island), Chess, Go, and have been known to jump in on a few DnD/Pathfinder campaigns. A new favorite of mine is Dungeon World, where the “rule of cool” helps drive the narrative along, emphasizing the role playing aspects of the genre over the dice rolls (and resultant awful luck!).
Ah yes, and I forgot to mention one other important category of activities… outdoor adventuring! As an avid mountaineer, I enjoy rock climbing (great course on learning to do outdoor climbing here, run by Mike Donofrio), snowboarding (about 8 years of experience), hiking (regularly!) and running. Sadly, in the past few years the snowboarding and running have been minimally accessible for me due to, well, mostly a lack of time… BUT, I keep them close to my heart and hope to work them in again soon!
For those interested in what I have accomplished so far outside of this blog’s purview (mainly career related), feel free to peruse my CV (which will be updated semi-regularly).