Cyprian Lewandowski, Physics
During my placement I worked within the Department of Condensed Matter Theory. My research centred on a variety of topics related to graphene. Every problem required a different set of methods and techniques to be employed, which although challenging at first, was immensely educational.
My MIT supervisor’s research focuses on theoretical models describing physical processes related to graphene. During the project I had to pick up a lot of skills to be able to work in this particular field of Condensed Matter Theory. I found it very beneficial and I am sure that acquired practical knowledge will be of great help this academic year. I had never had a chance to do any purely theoretical work before, so I thought that this opportunity would be an invaluable source of experience as it would show me what to expect if I were to pursue a PhD in this area. I was not disappointed in my expectations.
Throughout the placement I came to appreciate the words that my supervisor told me at the beginning: "Theoretical work is a lone path". I did not have a clearly laid out set of activities and actions that I should be doing, rather I had to be creative and come up with solutions (and sometimes even problems) on my own. Although it initially was very hard and frustrating, in the end, I found out that with sufficient dedication both in time and work from my side, it is an exceedingly good method of studying. As a result of my summer placement I am currently working on a paper with my research group at MIT which should be published in the coming months.
Aside from the research project to which I dedicated most of my time, I really enjoyed the summer at MIT. Together with fellow exchange students we went on several sightseeing excursions and got to see a little bit of Boston and Cambridge. Particularly useful was also the academic atmosphere in the group. A few of its members were PhD students, so with myself being interested in a graduate study in the US, it gave me an opportunity to ask about the application procedure from a student perspective and to hear a few tips and suggestions.
The chance to work in a purely theoretical group was enlightening as it allowed me to experience what PhD study would be like."
Overall I found the summer research placement at MIT extremely useful and given another chance I would apply for it again. The chance to work in a purely theoretical group was enlightening as it allowed me to experience what PhD study would be like. The area of physics I got to work in is the one which I want to be the focus of my graduate study, hence this internship was very insightful. Aside from the unique academic experience and the ability to sample the environment of one of the top scientific institutions in the world, I found a little bit of time to enjoy Cambridge and Boston as well, not to mention the variety of wonderful running routes alongside Charles river.