Meet the REUs

Ryan Lau

Home Institution: CalPoly, San Luis Obispo
Research Project: Computational Condensed Matter Theory and Response Functions: Real-time and Realspace Methods for Complex Systems
UW Mentor(s): John Rehr

Q: What are your physics/science interests?
I find interest in almost everything, but particularly I like learning about bizarre properties of different materials. Shape memory alloys, non-newtonian fluid, or anything whacky like that. What's even cooler is finding some use for that property that would be beneficial to an everyday person.

Q: What are your other interests?
When I'm not honing my knowledge in the force, I generally like any physical activity; I particularly like training calisthenics and table tennis. On the quieter side, I love folding origami, playing piano and trombone, and playing Super Smash Bros. Melee. Anything that requires dexterous fingers is interesting to me. I am greatly interested in the DC universe and would love to have a conversation with anybody about it!

Q: What would you like to do after college?
I am pretty set on pursuing a PhD in condensed matter. Whether or not I complete it is a different story. After that, I want to get some industry experience, ideally through a national lab, and eventually teach at a high school or university.

Q: Tell us one strange but interesting fact about yourself.
I learned how to do a backflip in a weekend! The interesting fact is that I'm too dumb to understand the risks that come with doing things like that.

Q: What first sparked your interest in Physics?
It's pretty much the only thing I'm better than my older brother at. I'm very competitive and I hate losing so when I find out I'm semi-decent at something I run away with that sense of victory. Of course, I realized that physics is actually fun and my physics career isn't just based on a childhood sense of fulfillment... :(

Q: If you could have any pet what would it be?
I would be perfectly satisfied rescuing a dog/puppy. If I could choose, it would probably be a dachshund or a beagle named leg (short for Legendre) so when people ask to pet my (dog) leg, I can chuckle to myself.

Q: If you had a free month and unlimited funds, how would you spend your time?
Purchase all companies that deal with everyday devices and rename all of their products to the same name and watch as society becomes inconvenienced slightly. Or go to Disneyland, something like that.

Q: If you could get a grant to study anything what would it be?
I would love to follow the studies of Christian Santengelo and Itahi Cohen about origami metamaterials. I would further investigate the 'programming' of material collapse along a crease/fold pattern. Combining origami and physics would lead to interesting applications in packing materials and exemplify the inherent beauty of physics and origami.