Meet Our Graduate Students
Meet Carolyn Zhang
I’m Carolyn, a 6th year graduate student and soon-to-be postdoc. I grew up in China, Canada, and Michigan, and went to college at Yale. After coming to UChicago, I worked for a year in Dave Schuster’s lab, before committing to condensed matter theory (with Erez Berg and Michael Levin).
Who inspires you?
I have many heroes, but of course I’m continuously inspired by my generous and dedicated parents. For example, my mom, who started running in her mid 50s, completed her first half marathon after a couple years of consistent training.
What are you fans of?
I’m a fan of big mountains, sunrises viewed from over the treeline, and technical climbing moves on slab.
Why did you choose to study Physics?
I got interested in physics near the end of my first year in college, after stumbling upon the Wikipedia page about high temperature superconductors. I continued studying it because I was constantly amazed by how physics reveals unexpected mathematical objects hidden in the real world.
Why did you choose UChicago?
I chose U Chicago because the culture here makes physics fun. The professors are really kind and accessible, and the department in general is very supportive. I’ve come to appreciate the collaborative and encouraging atmosphere at the Kadanoff Center.
What are the best things about your PhD program?
The best thing is definitely the people, including my advisor Michael Levin, my officemates, and other folks at the Kadanoff Center. I also enjoy my academic freedom, and the opportunities I’ve had to travel for conferences and summer schools. We are part of a larger group called the Simons Collaboration on Ultra Quantum Matter, which is a tight-knit group that feels like family.
What was the best surprise about UChicago or life in Chicago?
Lakeshore trail at sunset is very nice! I also love Hyde Park Produce, which is a local, inexpensive gem of a grocery store. I also appreciate the communities I’ve found outside of the physics department, such as my climbing group, my church, and my Bible study group.
If you could share any advise to your colleagues, what would it be?
Enjoy the day-to-day research process, and find a problem that really excites you!