Q&A with Physics Graduate Student Jacob Turner

Q: So, Jacob, why did you decide to study science?
A: I’ve always been interested in science, and ideally, I’d like to be a professor teaching university students. Earning a Ph.D. is a long process, anywhere from two to six years, depending on your research. But I’m making progress, and along the way I’ve been in the Navy. I was stationed in Japan for two years and have seen some things.

Q: What made you want to earn your graduate degree in physics at the University of Idaho?
I really like the size of the program at the University of Idaho. At the undergrad level it’s really about learning the fundamentals, and it’s an exchange of ideas. In graduate school it’s about getting in the lab, doing research and putting these ideas together. Professors here have really interesting labs going on, and there are many ways to get involved. For example, the G-12 National Science Foundation (NSF) program that I’m involved with gives me the opportunity to teach physical science concepts like energy, laws of motion and electricity to elementary school kids; it’s the big-picture view. Then I can get in the lab and study things like electronics, miniaturization and the physics behind tomorrow’s computers and technology.

Q: In a perfect world, what are you really interested in studying?
A: I’m particularly interested in studying black holes, the relationship between space and time and string theory investigation.

Q: What advice can you offer those interested in pursuing a career in science?
Well in my opinion, nothing you learn in physics is useless. You can’t go wrong. You can earn a physics degree and move into any science-related career like engineering or computer science. And if you have a science degree you are very trainable and teachable, whereever the trends or economy goes. This makes you valuable to any employer; plus you get to learn new things all the time.

Another piece of advice I have for incoming science students is to take at least one course in drama and in business. It teaches you how to interact and relate to people in a meaningful way. You can use this anywhere you go.