Skip to main content

 Meet Erik Szwed

Erik Szwed

Tell us a bit about your background:  I am currently a Ph.D. candidate in physics at UC San Diego. My interests primarily reside in the overlap between physics and education. Before joining the UC San Diego community, I balanced these occupations by conducting research at his undergraduate institution of Vassar College, volunteered as a math and science tutor to assist adults with passing their high school equivalency exams, and taught physics at the STEMCivics High School in Trenton, NJ. Upon accepting admission to the UC San Diego Physics Department, I was awarded the 2018 Ticho Fellowship in recognition of my previous academic achievements. This award was created in honor of Dr. Harold Ticho to recruit up-and-coming physicists and played a large role in helping my partner and I get established in San Diego.

Describe your community involvement at UC San Diego: I have served with Dr. Philbert Tsai and Dr. Mark Paddock as a TA in their Physics 1 series courses targeted at premed and bio students. One of the greatest challenges of these courses is to impart deductive problem-solving techniques to a primarily non-physics audience. Over the Spring 2019 quarter, I continued to work with Dr. Paddock to bridge the gap between these disciplines. This summer, I worked with Dr. Julio Barreiro, one of a few researchers at UC San Diego who focuses on atomic, molecular, and optical physics. Some of his current projects that I am involved with include trapping ultracold Strontium atoms with tapered nanofibers as well as studying topological order, such as the Fractional Quantum Hall Effect, with Strontium atoms in an optical lattice. After graduating from UC San Diego in 2023, I hope to continue making physics an accessible subject in higher education. For the next several years, I will be studying the properties and uses of ultracold Strontium atoms with Dr. Julio Barreiro while continuing to assist professors like Dr. Mark Paddock with improving the physics courses available to undergraduate students here at UC San Diego.

Why UC San Diego? Apart from the outstanding weather and beautiful beaches, I chose to attend UC San Diego because of its exemplary condensed matter department, fascinating research, and dedication to its students. I've yet to speak with a graduate student here who is disappointed with the content they are studying or their future prospects as a result of a UC San Diego education.