Alumni Spotlight: Theo Bucci
Pictured above: Theo Bucci
Theo Bucci graduated from YSU last spring, May 2021, with a B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Mathematics. Currently, he is in his first year at University of Wisconsin-Madison, pursuing a PhD in Physics.
At University of Wisconsin-Madison, the physics department is large and known for their research in quantum computing, plasmas, neutrino physics and AMO. The department’s large size combined with a cohort of 30 students left Theo feeling a bit overwhelmed compared to the atmosphere at YSU. However, he’s had a very positive experience thus far. He has received support from not only physics faculty, but also engineering and math faculty. Additionally, the department has hosted social events and a weekly colloquium to help students connect.
Currently, Theo’s main interests are in condensed matter and quantum materials. He has begun research with a materials science faculty member working on tuning the magnetic properties of thin Heusler membranes with the potential for applications to communications and data storage. He hopes to continue conducting meaningful research that will lead to a future dissertation topic. After his PhD program, he would like to work in a national lab or industry. Theo stated, “In the end, I hope to find meaning in my work in STEM through the development of new technologies and in mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers. I may try to do work in the field of materials for renewable energy in the future. It's the work toward a better future that motivates me fundamentally.”
During his time at YSU, Theo found as many research opportunities as possible. At YSU, he conducted research with Dr. Crescimanno, a Physics professor, that allowed him to be on an academic paper and obtain real research experience. Theo also completed an REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) at the University of Wyoming in their Physics & Astronomy department studying expoplanet atmospheres. Additionally, the addition of Theo’s mathematics degree helped him to better understand the concepts in his physics classes. He also focused on learning the material thoroughly, rather than just trying to pass the classes!
Theo shared several tips for undergraduate students. He encourages students to learn as much as they can during their undergraduate careers as the opportunity fades due to time commitments and work. Actively search for research opportunities as they will be very strong for graduate school applications. Apply for scholarships as a testament to the ability to procure independent funding. Don’t forget to take care of your mind and body – it will lead to better performance. Finally, Theo discusses how he maintains motivation:
"Remembering why I was in school always helped me to maintain motivation. I'm an idealist and an optimist, and I always thought of my education as an amazing opportunity and a privilege. I worked hard because I thought it would help me serve a greater good and make a better future, and I have carried that outlook into graduate school…In all things you do, aim upward and with the intent to make the world even marginally better. We live in a technological age with many potential problems that need smart and creative people to bring forward solutions. We STEM students have the opportunity to apply our skills and interests to make the future something that is bright, hopeful, and worth striving for. Biologists, Chemists, Physicists, Engineers, Mathematicians, Computer Scientists and all the ones I can think of at the top of my head, we can make the future something worth striving for. That's why I do it, and I think you should too. It all starts where you're at now in your undergrad. So, my advice is to think of a future you want to live in and strive for it as hard as you possibly can. The world needs it, and no one else will if you don't."
Special thanks to Theo for catching up with us!