At the young age of nineteen, I have garnered a wide range of experiences through over ten years of studying physics. I am a second-year doctoral student at UCSD, where I research experimental nonneutral plasma physics in the Driscoll–Dubin–O’Neil Group. In my first year, I rose to Head TA of the undergraduate upper division electronics lab, managing a team of seven other TAs, giving several primary lectures, and ensuring the entire course ran well. Before starting at UCSD, I spent one summer at Ultrahaptics as an R&D intern, and three years completing my bachelor’s at UCLA, where I spent one and a half years researching acoustics and plasma physics in the Putterman Group, founded Upsilon Lab, an academic club to improve accessibility to undergraduate research, and spent a year as an undergraduate TA, allowing me to directly supervise over 300 students between UCLA and UCSD. I have complemented my experience in physics with both my nontraditional education which brought me to the Stanford OHS at nine and UC Berkeley at ten, and through almost two years as a transportation planner at AECOM, with a focus on autonomous vehicle infrastructure. I use this breadth of experience to bring original approaches and perspectives to every task I undertake.
I was born in San Francisco, California in 2000. I had a childhood as normal as one might expect, including attending Stuart Hall for Boys starting as a kindergartener in 2006. After the first year at Stuart Hall, it was evident that I loved studying math. In addition to the individualized enrichment in math provided by Stuart Hall, my parents arranged to add an accelerated math program to my "daily diet" through Stanford's Education Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY).
After completing first grade at Stuart Hall, my parents and I decided to pursue what many would consider homeschool, but was more an eclectic mix of external resources.
During that first year, I pursued a wide range of topics through several online programs, including EPGY, small group classes at local museums including the Exploratorium and the de Young, some private tutoring, and becoming a Davidson Young Scholar. This flexibility afforded some interesting facets to my education; for example, I was able to count on-foot urban exploration as my P.E. credit.
In 2009, I was the youngest member of the inaugural class of students in the new middle school program at the Stanford Online High School (OHS), while continuing my pursuit of other subjects in a range of programs as eclectic as before.
At OHS, I started with one class, Inquiry Based Physics. This class was my first introduction to physics and despite its removal from direct mathematics, I saw the dependencies, and was immediately transfixed. I followed this with AP Physics B in 2010-2011, receiving full scores on the AP Physics B and SAT Physics exams at age ten.
The following year, I continued my study of physics with some new resources at UC Berkeley. In the 2011-2012 academic year, I took two seminars and completed substantial independent study with of a graduate student in the department. The next year, I took the first two of the three Honors Freshman Physics series while continuing my independent studies.
During the second year I spent part-time at UC Berkeley, 2012-2013, I took a year of calculus courses at the College of Marin, my local community college. After realizing that I needed to start collecting formal credits for my coursework, I decided to enroll full-time at Marin for the 2013-2014 academic year using my California High School Proficiency Certificate (CHSPE) as the formal diploma required for full-time enrollment.
I stayed at Marin full-time for two years, completing numerous physics, mathematics and general education courses. In 2014, I unsuccessfully applied for freshman entrance to UC Berkeley and several Ivy Leagues. After completing another year at Marin, I applied to four University of California campuses for 2015 entrance with third-year standing.
I was accepted to UCLA and UCSD for a Bachelor's of Science in physics, and in 2015, I started with the normal gamut of coursework expected of a transfer student in the physics department at UCLA. That first term at UCLA, I took on my first tutee, which helped me find my passion for teaching. Over the year, I took on numerous students as a tutees, ranging in age from seven to college-graduated adults, learning both physics and mathematics.
Early in 2017, I joined the Putterman Plasma-Acoustics Group as an undergraduate researcher, which helped my interest in research flourish, and ultimately drove me to pursue a doctorate in physics.
I used these experiences and my success as a student in the electronics and acoustics lab courses offered in the department to be the first current undergraduate to take an Assistant TA position, where I had over 60 students under my direct supervision over the 2017-2018 academic year.
In that same year, I co-founded Upsilon Lab, a research club in the Physics & Astronomy Department at UCLA, where I had indirect supervision over another 70 students.
Perhaps the greatest differentiator between myself and others who have followed a similar path is my several employment experiences despite my young age.
I started a corporate internship in transportation engineering, including infrastructure for autonomous vehicles, at sixteen. Having been immersed in a professional environment from a young age has had its benefits in spades.
After graduating from UCLA, I took a full-time internship in research and development at the Palo Alto office of Ultrahaptics in the summer of 2018.
I believe work experience of this nature is extremely valuable, and that age need not be a boundary for enrichment from such resources.
In 2018, I started to pursue my doctorate in physics at UC San Diego, where I enjoyed working Graduate Teaching Assistant, helping students of all skill levels better understand physics. In that year alone, I climbed the teaching ladder to Head TA of the upper division electronics lab, managing a team of seven other teaching assistants, with over 150 students over three quarters.
Beginning in Summer 2019, I joined the Driscoll–Dubin–O'Neil Group, where I work in the lab studying experimental nonneutral plasma physics.
None of this would have been possible without all of the wonderful mentors I have had the privilege of learning from at every step of the way. I would like to express my gratitude to all of them, and I can only hope to help others as much!
© 2019 — Jacob Saret — All rights reserved.