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Zachery Brown '17


Philosophy, Physics

Outcome Opportunity:

Graduate/Professional School


Ph.D. Candidate


University of Rochester

Conducting Research as an Undergraduate

Zachery Brown, a graduating senior from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, conducted research on glass transition, with Piotr Habdas, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of physics at SJU for several years. Their research focused on colloidal glasses. A colloid is a mixture of a microscopic, insoluble particles in a liquid; in this case, acrylic spheres in a solvent. Instead of being influenced by temperature, colloidal glasses transition through states based on the ratio of particles to liquid. In Dr. Habdas’ lab, using a specialized microscopy technique, Zachery measured the movement of the spheres as he introduces them into the solvent.

Published Before Graduation

Zachery was the lead co-author, along with classmate Martin Iwanicki ’16, on a paper covering the research in the international journal “Europhysics Letters,” published by the Institute of Physics in London in November 2016. Dr. Habdas and three researchers from the University of Pennsylvania contributed as secondary authors. “Undergraduate students don’t regularly get the opportunity to be a lead author on a published paper,” says Zachery. “Working with Dr. Habdas has allowed me to get my feet wet and develop the right set of skills before going to graduate school.”

How Did Your SJU Education Impact Your Career Goals?

“Whether I was conducting research, teaching, or simply studying for my classes, my time in the physics department here at SJU gave me the foundational knowledge I hope to carry with me for the rest of my career." Zachery will continue his studies next year at the University of Rochester, where he will pursue a Ph.D. in physics.