The University of Arizona

Alumni Early Career Profiles - Philip Hughes

Name: Philip Hughes
Education: B.S., Mathematics and Chemistry, The University of Arizona, May 2002
Position: Graduate Student
Chemistry Department
Princeton University
Sector: Other science and technology


I am a graduate student at Princeton University seeking my Ph.D. I am in the third year of a five year program. My work involves the modeling of molecular scattering.

My thesis will center on a technique called high dimensional model representation (HDMR). This technique is used to create input-output maps in situations with many (~1000) input variables. Specifically, I am looking to replace the computationally difficult Schrodinger equation with a simpler and still accurate facsimile. This will allow my research group to investigate behavioral trends within quantum mechanical scattering.

I received a B.S. from the University of Arizona in Mathematics and Chemistry in May 2002. My work involves both mathematics, chiefly analysis, and chemistry. All of the work that I do is computational; I do not use any chemicals or glassware. This makes knowledge of computer programming essential as well.

If I met a student in high school or college who was considering a degree in mathematics I would enthusiastically encourage them. I would not be able to do the work I do without my math background. This is true even though I am working towards a chemistry Ph. D. I have frequently heard my colleagues say that they wish they had a more extensive mathematics background. Also, I am often asked math questions. These questions touch on topology, analysis, geometric series, you name it. Mathematics is the language of science and my work makes me realize that every day.

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