The Art of Physics

CATEGORY: Academics
TYPE: Photos
RELATED PROGRAMS: Physics & Astronomy

Qingyang Liu ’14 (Shanghai) may be the epitome of the liberal arts student. She is majoring in both psychology and physics/ astronomy but she is also an accomplished artist, who favors portraits and works in oils, charcoal, and digital art.

Liu has pursued her interests in a variety of settings—in school back home in Shanghai, as a high school exchange student in Wisconsin, on campus at Mac, as a Al Parchem Fellow at the University of Minnesota, and while studying abroad in Cambridge, England.

When Liu arrived at Macalester, her high school Advanced Placement work in physics gained her access to a 300-level physics/astronomy course with Professor James Doyle. The following summer she conducted research as part of Professor John Cannon’s observational astronomy research group. This year she’s taking the statistical mechanics course, which deals with equilibrium and kinetic properties of systems.

In 2012 Liu received an Al Parchem Fellowship to investigate the different functions of memory in the right and left brain. Working with two other students, she used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to look at blood flow and neuronal activation.

To Liu, these scientific explorations are greatly complemented by her interest in art. “Physics is very logical and in psychology we think more broadly,” says Liu. “Art helps with both. Art helps you look at the whole. Where is the chair relative to the table? Understanding relationships and relative qualities is very important.”

Last spring Liu studied in Cambridge, where she focused on European philosophy and developmental psychology. It was an interesting contrast to Macalester. Beautiful, yes, but “a huge campus, a 45-minute walk from ‘home’ to the science center,” she says. “The English system is much more formal and conservative. There is more self-study and you work closely with your supervisors, who are doctoral students. At Macalester, we talk with our professors all the time, it’s very relaxed, and students are more involved in sports and organizations.”

By September Liu, a senior, was already talking about her future with the Career Development office and her professors. She hopes to have a job in hand before graduation and to work for a time before applying to graduate school

 

PUBLISHED: 12/02/2013

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