Photo Credit: Yakosu Umana
In high school, Desiree Rehel didn’t see the purpose of physics in her future.
“Why do I need this, I don’t care if I can calculate how far a train can travel in an hour,” Rehel thought.
She didn’t like math and thought physics was all about calculating.
However, that perception changed when she took natural-science courses for her Quebec Diploma of College Studies in 2016.
Physics is far more than applying formulas, she said.
“It can be used to understand physical systems and how they behave and can tell you more than one plus one equals two,” Rehel said.
“It’s a challenging subject that has a lot of rewards in being able to understand it.”
Today, Rehel is in her fourth-year at UPEI studying physics.
Last November, she gave a presentation at the Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference (CUPC), virtually hosted by Western University, Ontario.
In January, awards were given out to presenters at the conference.
Rehel won the iREx best Oral presentation award.
She didn’t attend the award ceremony because she thought she wouldn’t win any, Rehel told the Cadre.
Her presentation was on a computer simulation of two polymers in a confined space.
Polymers are long chains of molecules. They can be flexible or rigid, natural or man-made.
Examples of natural polymers are DNA and protein, and synthetic (man-made) examples are nylon and polyester.
Following her presentation at the CUPC, Rehel presented at the Atlantic Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy Conference (AUPAC) which took place from Feb. 5-7.
She was awarded the Tindall/Steinitz award, which goes to the overall best presentation at the AUPAC.
“I was surprised honestly, but I’m happy. At least this time I went to the award ceremony,” Rehel said, on winning the AUPAC award.
“It’s cool to see the progression I made from being horrible at presentations, to actually winning.”
Rehel has been working on the research project she presented for her honours in physics.
The purpose of her research is to understand the behaviour of polymers in a confined space.
The results can help with the development of nanofluidic devices- which sort, manipulate and map DNA molecules.