Mason physics major Marcus Daum already has set his sights on getting a PhD. In fact, terminal degrees are kind of a tradition in his family, so Daum plans to follow in the doctoral footsteps of his father and his grandfather after he completes his bachelor’s degree in 2015. His field: physics.
Why did he choose physics? For the challenge of it, of course. Physics was the one high school course in which Daum had to work at to get an A. Add to that minors in astronomy and math, and he has his academic work cut out for him.
In addition to his course work, Daum works in the lab of Mason researcher Rob Cressman at the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study investigating nonequilibrium physics. Daum began working with Cressman, his mentor, in Mason’s Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program. After completing the internship, Daum continued to work in Cressman’s lab as part of the Undergraduate Research Scholars Program.
In his research, Daum has been investigating oscillations in power and stability in electroconvecting liquid crystals. “By simultaneously imaging the system and measuring the power injected into the system, we are able to investigate the relationship between defect dynamics, conductivity, and power injection in this system,” he says.
Daum presented his research in the fall at the American Physical Society meeting and to researchers from the Naval Research Lab. He is also working on a paper with Cressman and doctoral student Zrinka Ferencek that they hope will be ready in spring.
“My goal for working in the Cressman lab was to see if I would want to do research for a living,” he says. “After working in the lab, I can soundly say that it is something that I would want to do for the rest of my life.”