Danielle Markovich, class of 2019
I am originally from Israel and I moved to Evanston, Illinois when I was in high school. I attended Evanston Township High, where my physics teacher, Dr. Mark Vondracek, was an Illinois Physics alumnus. He was a big influence in my life in general and specifically in my decision to study physics at Illinois. In high school, I knew that I wanted to go into the renewable energy field, but I wasn’t sure which path would take me there. Eventually, I decided that studying physics would give me the best fundamental knowledge to make a difference in this field. Before coming to college, I spent two years in the Israeli Navy as part of my mandatory military service as an Israeli citizen. I served as a Naval Field Observer which required learning to operate radars and optoelectronic devices.
My biggest highlight as an engineering physics major has been participating in the physics-art piece Quantum Rhapsodies. I was introduced to this project by Professor Smitha Vishveshwara after taking her class, Phys 498 ART last spring. I have been painting since I was three years old, and this course gave me the opportunity to combine my passions for painting and physics for the first time. During the class, I painted a piece depicting the quantum world through a surrealistic landscape which was used as a visual projection for Professor Vishveshwara’s play, Quantum Voyages. This year, I was lucky enough to collaborate with Professor Vishveshwara again on the visuals of Quantum Rhapsodies. I created two paintings for the visuals of this production, and I had the opportunity to meet weekly with Beckman’s visualization lab. During the meetings, we discussed ideas for eye-catching visuals that would accurately represent the physics discussed in the piece. I loved this experience because it gave me the opportunity to work closely with experts in many different fields, such as music, theatre, visual arts, and physics. This project opened my eyes to the possibilities that arise from such interdisciplinary collaborations, and it has been a true honor to be a part of it.
The most rewarding part of this experience was sharing the physics that we physics majors are so passionate about in a way that others find beautiful and exciting. My family made it to the premiere of Quantum Rhapsodies at Beckman, and they were in awe of the striking performance and visuals. After the event they asked me many questions about quantum mechanics and it was a real treat to share physics with them in a way I never previously could.
Other highlights have included TAing Phys 498 ART this spring, working as a tutor for the Center for Academic Resources in Engineering, and participating in research for the Mechanical Engineering department and at Argonne National Laboratory last summer.
This fall I will be starting my PhD in Applied Physics at Cornell University, where I will be focusing on renewable energy research in batteries or fuel cells.