Sometimes I feel that the world is a vat of glass marbles

Fall 2013

Claire Preston

Schulich Leader at McMaster University

Sometimes I feel that the world is a vat of glass marbles. They pour in a continuous stream into my outstretched palms and I manage to catch a few, but most of them fall through my fingers in the never-ending flow. So much has happened and continues to happen in my life that I feel like I can only grasp pieces of it, while most cascades past in a blur.

I spent the summer working as a research assistant in a polymer physics lab at McMaster, where I studied polymer crystallization using optical and atomic force microscopy, a lucky position considering I had only just finished first year. What an opportunity! It was my first real experience doing scientific research. Not only did I explore a fascinating area of soft matter physics, but I got a close look at other exciting research going on in the department. I concluded my research by giving a presentation at the annual Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference, this year at McMaster. I am extremely grateful for the experience, which has taught me much about physics research and made me very excited to explore different areas of it in the future.

As for the fall semester, with five rigorous physics and math courses, I have had almost no free time and have never felt so challenged in school before. Despite the difficulty, whenever I have a chance to step back and think about what I am studying, I am hit by the thought, "Wow, this is so cool". Everything I learn further demonstrates that the universe is not what it seems and that there is still so much to discover.

My artistic side still is very much a part of me, and I steal moments with it whenever I have the chance. I do believe that creativity will serve me well in a scientific path, as so much of science and innovation requires thinking creatively. I still cannot see what the future has in store, but I do know that I uncover new insight and opportunity with every step. It is my hope that I can somehow contribute to the world in science using my creative abilities. As of yet, I have no idea how this might come about, but the uncertainty makes it exciting - I wonder what I will do next.