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Physics Careers Seminar: "On Allowing Yourself to Wander"

Event Type
Department of Physics
276 Loomis
Oct 27, 2023   12:00 pm  
Dr. Luis de Jesus Astacio, Assistant Professor, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Lance Cooper
Originating Calendar
Physics - Careers Seminar

Abstract: Halfway through my PhD, the world got hit by the pandemic and things changed. Losing my father to COVID, re-location of the research group and isolation were some of the obstacles that turned the naturally challenging PhD experience to an seemingly impossible task. After defending, I embarked on a 100+ day journey of healing, wandering and wondering. From my experiences, I realized that sometimes it is fine to face life without knowing, or trying to know, what comes next. In this talk, I will share my journey during and after completing my doctoral studies and as an individual finding my place in the intricate web of life.

Bio: I grew up in Puerto Rico, a beautiful island surrounded by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Fascinated with understanding nature from an early age, I inevitably gravitated towards scientific research. I completed a BS in Physics at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus (UPR-RP) in 2016. While at UPR-RP, I had various research experiences that reaffirmed my interest in interdisciplinary topics, particularly in biophysics. In 2017 I started the Physics PhD at UIUC. While at UIUC, I worked with Seppe Kuehn and other group members to study how microbial communities organize to cycle carbon in nutrient-limited environments. I defended in 2022 and, after some traveling, returned to Puerto Rico. Currently, I'm an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at UPR-RP, where I'm teaching an elective course on biophysics. I also recently started a second job as Quantitative Analyst at the largest bank in Puerto Rico, Banco Popular. My long-term goals lie in agroecology and building self-sustaining communities.

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