Shaun Marshall, '13

Hometown: Nashua, NH
Degree: BS, Physics

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
While applying to universities, I already had in mind I would want to go somewhere that allowed my strong work ethic to strive; after much research, I knew that WPI would do just that.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
Unlike many colleges that expel mass quantities of information to students, test them, then send them on their way to the world of jobs, WPI actually helps the student understand the connection between what is learned and how it is applied.

For my IQP, I worked with a few other students on proposing a high-speed rail network in Australia. While we were by no means experts in this field, we each had components from our respective majors that offered a different perspective or methodology for solving the problem; when combined, we achieved a novel, unbiased approach that the sponsors found to be an invaluable asset to their own studies.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
WPI allows undergraduates such as myself to participate in university research, which both allows students to keep up to date with current research in their field and strengthen their skills in real-world problem solving and data analysis.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
I first expressed my interest in pursuing physics laboratory research to Professor Stroe at the beginning of my sophomore year. Immediately, she established correspondence and enthusiastically responded with the many available options and opportunities available to me if I were to assist her with her research. Complementary to this, she wanted me to understand that her work was flexible, so that I could work on many different projects in my spare time, stressing that my schoolwork came first.

What are your research projects?
I am currently working on a couple of biophysics projects to complement my degree. I have put a large amount of time into a study with Professor Stroe on the dynamics of hydrated amyloidogenic proteins by assessing dielectric responses through different variables such as time, temperature, and concentration. I continued this project throughout the summer of 2011 as part of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program at WPI, and the results are pending publication.

In the near future, I will also be working with professors Stroe and Iannacchione on the assessment of interactions between proteins and liquid crystals. This project may lead into some groundbreaking discoveries, and I am very excited to get started!

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
After graduation, I plan on staying at WPI for an additional year to acquire a master’s degree in biophysics, expanding upon the research of my current projects in the form of a thesis. Later on, I would like to perform research studies myself, so I may attain a PhD in order to lead research efforts within academia. I feel my work will mostly be in the experimental field, possibly including related topics such as nuclear physics and medical physics.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • Alpha Phi Omega (national service fraternity)
  • WPI Karate Club
  • Math department as a peer-learning assistant
  • Academic Resource Center as a tutor
  • The Biophysics Journal Club

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Dean's List, fall '09 through spring '11
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship
  • Best Poster Presentation (New England Undergraduate Research Symposium)
  • Achievement in German Language Study

Additional comments:
The environment here is absolutely fantastic: the professors are attentive to the needs of the students, there is plenty of opportunity to get involved with both academic and extracurricular activities, and most students share a similar “working” mentality, allowing me to continuously remain productive with experiential results.

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