Student Highlights

Students in the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences are achieving great things every day. Here are some CPMS students who are working hard in their respective departments.

Gabriel Valdivia-Berroeta I Chemistry and Biochemistry

Gabriel Valdivia-Berroeta just finished earning his PhD in chemistry. Chemistry has been one of his favorite subjects since high school—he loves having the freedom to manipulate chemicals and create new things. He especially enjoys working with other students with different skill sets to solve problems. One of his favorite aspects of conducting research at BYU is having resources readily available to create new molecules. From his research on crystalized organic compounds and their behaviors in a solid state, Valdivia-Berroeta has written two academic articles that have appeared in both the Wiley Online Library and The Optical Society of America academic journals. He is currently working for Boehringer Ingelheim to find better ways to characterize potential drug molecules in the solid state.


Kyle Storey I Computer Science

Kyle Storey conducted research in the computer science lab as a computer engineering major. Storey had the opportunity to work in the lab alongside his faculty mentor Dr. Eric Mercer. Their research focuses on program verification, or creating programs designed to analyze other programs. Storey was selected to be a part of Google Summer of Code in 2019, a global program where students earn a stipend while working with a mentor in software development. He was chosen by NASA to work on his dynamic partial order reduction in JPF project, which focuses on Java Pathfinder—a software verification program developed by NASA. He has also researched with GrammaTech, a software development company, and worked on projects in Russia and the Czech Republic. After graduating in April, Storey decided to stay at BYU for graduate school, partly because he enjoys collaborating with Mercer and because he looks forward to continuing BYU’s program verification research.

Claire Ashcraft I Geological Sciences

Claire Ashcraft is a geology master’s student. After taking the introductory geology class as an undergraduate, Ashcraft was fascinated by the field and continued taking classes in it until she finally decided to switch her major to geological sciences. Soon thereafter, she began researching geological hazards and has continued that area of research in her graduate program. Ashcraft’s research took her to Indonesia to study geological hazards, as well as provided an opportunity to work with the people and learn the language. That experience helped her discover an interest in using her geological knowledge to improve and protect human lives. After graduation, Ashcraft would like to work in geological hazards mitigation in which she could help to reduce the effects caused by hazards such as natural disasters.


Ryan Keck I Mathematics

Mathematics MS graduate Ryan Keck has been working alongside his mentor Dr. Paul Jenkins since his undergraduate years. Most of the research he has been involved in focuses on number theory, which has influenced his decision to pursue becoming a mathematician for the government. “A big part of number theory is cryptography,” Keck said, “which is the same kind of idea as breaking codes.” Even as an undergraduate, Keck was taking graduate courses to help him prepare for government work. He previously worked as a TA for the new “E=MC2” (Early Mathematics Computational Cohort) program, an integrated set of mathematics courses designed for incoming math students interested in learning more advanced math.



Kamalani Kaluhiokalani I Mathematics Education

Kamalani Kaluhiokalani recently graduated in math education. His research focused on improving the flow of communication between previous
professors to their successors. Currently, there is no database where college professors can share their experiences or pedagogical strategies. Having that sort of resource would enable new professors to start where previous professors left off. Kaluhiokalani, under the direction of Dr. Douglas Corey, set out to show that there is a hole in available resources and ultimately fill that hole with training for college instructors to improve the college math experience. Kaluhiokalani has been accepted into the BYU math education graduate program this fall. He then plans to return to his homeland of Hawaii and give back to his community by teaching math at the only local community college on his island.

Charlotte Read I Physics and Astronomy

Physics major Charlotte Read’s first encounter with physics was during her freshman year of college. She had never taken a physics class before, but decided to try her hand at the Physics 105 class. As a member of the BYU track and field team specializing in the pole vault event, Read was fascinated as she studied the physics behind vaults. She researched more about the subject even outside of the class’s required curriculum. Now, whenever she pictures herself pole vaulting, she is instantly reminded of her physics knowledge and the form, angles, and force that are required for a successful vault. Read currently works with physics professors Dr. Benjamin Frandsen and Dr. Karine Chesnel, as well as chemistry professor Dr. Roger Harrison, constructing tiny chemical compounds to look at and understand their magnetic properties. Her plan is to use this lab experience to further her study in medical physics as a career path after graduation.


Carlie Peterson I Statistics

Carlie Peterson graduated in statistics with a data science emphasis this past April. She chose her major because of its real-world implications and focused on computer programming with larger data sets and modeling. Peterson worked as a data analyst for the health care company HealthEquity. There, she predicted and prevented fraud within the company and stopped fraudulent activity already in practice. At BYU, she worked as a STAT 121 CA managing the entire online system for the class and building the course materials. As a female student in a male-dominated industry, Peterson said, “I love being able to study something that women in the past weren’t even allowed to do.” Post graduation, she is planning on working for a year or two before applying to graduate school.

By Angela Cava Posted on