Current State of Kyle
In the past year I’ve managed to get my fingers caught in many traps. From some new research projects to service commitments, I’ve somehow decided to challenge the number of hours in a day in a quest to not leave any personal betterment stone unturned. I’ll organize current projects and such by Research (potential employers stop here), Service (really, employers, this is all you need to know), Personal Projects, and Fun. If you see anything you’d like to collaborate on, by all means, contact me at the email listed in the contact section!
My primary focus has still been on nuclear reactions, specifically fusion studies. Some deep-inelastic and quasifission projects have been sitting in the pipeline for a while, but those take vast computational resources before something interesting pops out. Until a paper is submitted for publication I don’t want to say too much, because as soon as I do I know we’ll change the scope of what we’re looking at 😉.
On a less vague and more technical side, I’ve been investigating some new computational methods to speed everything up. Since I’ve started at Vanderbilt I’ve already cut computation times by a factor of ten for some (static constraint and static initialization iterations) situations, but i haven’t been able to come up with a good way to fix the primary bottleneck of the dynamic propagation. I don’t think GPUs are the answer, but if modern PCIe links are fast enough we may get some use out of passing a time step off to the GPU. I plan on testing this on a more CPU bound system in the coming months, but it’ll require some more modification to the code to utilize the acceleration code. I’ll be sure to report back if anything cool happens with that.
This past year I spent some time abroad for both a workshop and a very productive research visit. The workshop was in lovely Florence, Italy. It was my first time in Italy so I was very happy to soak in the sights and the wine. February wasn’t the best choice, maybe, but seeing Florence covered in snow was a treat that few people get to see. The workshop itself was very stimulating and I had some great discussions with friends and colleagues, new and old. These workshops are great opportunities to learn about the cutting edge research in the field and meet some wonderful people, so I really hope to attend another INFN hosted workshop in the future.
My research visit was at Australia National University (ANU) for the month of May working with Cedric Simenel on some reaction studies. I feel like we made some great progress and hopefully we’ll see some fruit in the form of publications in the coming months (very soft deadline there..). I had a wonderful time visiting Australia (my first time there, too!) and I can’t wait to go back to Canberra. Superficially it was a lovely reprieve from a Nashville summer, but it’s also a wonderful place filled with wonderful people.
While not a TA this year, I still try to engage pretty closely with the department when it comes to teaching matters. My tenure as a Phys 1010L lab TA my first two years led me to make some substantial changes to the way it’s taught, so I made sure to check back up on the current TAs to see if it was doing a little better for them. It’s always hard to teach a premade course, but I think modularity is the way to go, letting it be tuned as a semester marches on.
Related to the TAs, I also acted as the Practice & Pedagogy leader for the teaching assistant orientation this year for the physics cohort. I led a section of the TAO training last year, but due to time commitments I took on a reduced role for this season. It was a successful day I think and I have a lot of respect for the section leader, Aaron, for putting together a really nice session that covered everything an incoming TA should know. New for this year was a focus on inclusive teaching and he knocked it out of the park. The discussion was lively and everyone was engaged, so I thnik we should consider that a success.
On the tutoring front I have signed on to be a tutor for the Math Methods course that I like so well. I enjoy tutoring a lot more than grading, so I expect it’ll be a good time. Not much to report on that since the semester has yet to start, so expect an update later.