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Robert S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Harvard University

Expertise

Physics, Optics, Quantum Mechanics, Math, Sports Analytics, Scientific Writing, Science Communication

Bio

I first caught the science bug while competing in math competitions in middle school and have been passionate about learning ever since. After constructing a low-budget multi-spectral camera in my parents' basement and doing well at the national level of a major science fair in high school, I decided to study physics in undergrad and eventually ended up at Harvard. The PhD work I did there can be loosely described as "microscopy meets quantum mechanics", but I am also notoriously curious about other research areas, and -- frankly -- spend a lot of my time just learning about random stuff. My most recent interests include neuroscience and the biology of aging -- we'll see what's next! When I'm not busy doing research, mentoring or going down rabbit holes on Wikipedia or YouTube, I love to travel the globe, play beach volleyball or do virtually anything related to music, from frequenting underground techno concerts to learning about music production and taking dance classes.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

From iPhone to IMAX -- A review of contemporary cameras and their limits

Apple ad campaigns proudly show off pictures "Shot on iPhone" in subway stations throughout the world, and directors are quick to comment on the amount of technological progress that has occurred since their own childhoods by claiming we all had movie cameras in our pockets nowadays. Yet, major movies are exclusively shot on incredibly expensive equipment and one of the first things any creator will do when trying to build their business is to invest in a fancy camera. Why is that? What limits the image quality of smartphone cameras, and what exactly is won by moving to more expensive ones? In this project, the student will have to engage in extensive "reading" covering an eclectic mix of sources including textbooks, patents, manuals, YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles and research papers to understand both the basic physics of optical imaging and the design of modern-day cameras in order to answer these questions. The ultimate deliverable for this project could take many different forms, including a literature review, an oral presentation, or an explanatory YouTube video showcasing footage shot with different cameras while explaining the underlying science.

The A is for Analytics -- An examination of the statistical metrics commonly used in the NBA

While the impact that the "analytics revolution" has had on the NBA over the last two decades is undeniable, the value of individual statistical metrics is not. In fact, the continued onslaught of new "advanced stats" has many fans questioning the value of such statistics altogether. After all, if I can argue any player's case by cherry-picking the right advanced stat, what good are such metrics in the first place? In this project, the student will read up on each and every metric commonly encountered in basketball discussions and GOAT debates, from the traditional box-score numbers to modern inventions such as Adjusted Plus-Minus. The goal of the project is for the student to understand all of those metrics and to critically examine their origins, gaining meaningful knowledge about both basketball and statistics while furthering their critical-thinking skills in the process. Depending on student preference, the project could result in a literature review, presentation or YouTube explainer video, among other things.

Languages I know

English, German

Credentials

Work experience

Harvard University (2020 - 2021)
Teaching Fellow
Harvard University (2015 - 2021)
Research Assistant

Education

Jacobs University Bremen
BS Bachelor of Science (2015)
Physics
Harvard University
MA Master of Arts (2018)
Physics
Harvard University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2021)
Physics

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