“This is what I’ve always wanted to do”

By Megan Bradshaw and Henry Basta on February 6, 2018

Physics major Max Coplan '19 shares why he thinks TU is among the best in physics research institutions.

In the video, Towson University physics major Max Coplan '19 talks about his collaboration with Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geosciences professor James Overduin, Ph.D., his passion for his work, and how working on a team has allowed his work to advance beyond what he thought he could do. 

Watch the talk

Coplan was invited to the headquarters of Wolfram Inc. in Champaign, Illinois, for their 2017 Technology Conference. Wolfram is the maker of Mathematica—the world's leading software for solving mathematical equations symbolically—that is distributed to all TU faculty and students. He gave a half-hour talk to the Wolfram experts on how he has been able to use Mathematica to "go where no one has gone before" and explore the inside of rotating black holes mathematically.

“Max is the kind of student to gladden the heart of any professor,” said Overduin. When I found out that he was TU's student ambassador for Wolfram Technology, I asked if he would be willing to inherit, learn and fix a massive and intricate (but flawed) Mathematica code that I had put together with my former student Kielan Wilcomb, to calculate and plot the properties of spinning black holes. This is subject material that is not normally covered until graduate school, even at R1 research institutions. Not many students would have taken on such a project, but Max never blinked. Within a few months, he found and fixed the flaw in the code!

Max's great strengths are his omnivorous curiosity, his technical facility and know-how with symbolic computing, and his unusual degree of initiative. That is an unbeatable combination that will take him as far as he wants to go in physics or computer science --- or both!

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