Eliza Diggins is a sophomore working on a double major in applied mathematics and physics. As a freshman, she participated in the Science Research Initiative (SRI) program, sponsored by the College of Science. The SRI puts students in a lab to do research as soon as they arrive on campus. After Eliza was admitted to the program, she began working with Fred Adler, professor of mathematics and of biology in the Department of Mathematics and in the School of Biological Sciences.
We caught up with Eliza for a chat.
How did you become interested in both math and physics?
Math and physics have both had a special place in my heart for most of my life. Even back in elementary school, math and science always held my attention more than other subjects. I began to actively study physics in middle school and never looked back.
Could you tell us about the kind of research you did in the SRI program with Dr. Adler?
I worked with Professor Adler modeling how COVID-19 virions move in the human airway. We constructed mathematical descriptions of the fluid motion to predict how differences in lung physiology would affect the distribution of virion absorption and, consequently, the severity of infection.
What do you enjoy about being at the U and in the Math and Physics Departments?
I enjoy being a part of both departments because the classroom environment is very positive, and the professors are always willing to engage with students. In addition to my time spent in the classroom, I teach English as a Second Language to adult students at the Guadalupe School.
What has it been like to work on your degree during the pandemic?
Working on a degree during a pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse. I've had more time to focus on my research and learning on my own time, which has left me very well prepared for future endeavors from an academic standpoint. Unfortunately, that additional time comes at the expense of many of the quintessential experiences of college.
Any career plans after you graduate?
My short-term plans are largely focused on getting into a good graduate program to study theoretical physics. In the long run, I'd like to have a career in academia so that I can focus full time on my research interests.
Any hobbies or interests outside of math and physics?
Outside of academic pursuits, I spend a lot of time outdoors. I'm passionate about hiking and running and spend a lot of time white-water rafting with my family. I also have a passion for herpetology, and I own two poison dart frogs!