Photograph of Nick Geiser presenting a poster at an outdoor poster session.

Nick Geiser – RUA Program & Community Engagement Board Alum, UCLA

Nick Geiser, PhD Candidate in Theoretical Physics, UCLA

RUA Affiliation: Former Community Engagement Board Member, Research Exchange Participant, RUA Programming Alumni

Tell us about yourself. What do you study? What do you do outside of research?

I am a PhD candidate in theoretical physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. I am Mexican-American and a first-generation college/grad student. I work in string theory and use mathematics to solve problems in particle physics and quantum gravity. Outside of research, I work with a variety of organizations to support under-represented minority groups in STEM fields. I also love to exercise.

How did you first get involved with RUA?

I first became involved with RUA in 2020 when I applied to an NSF grant supporting grads who promote diversity in mathematics and the physical sciences. Around the same time, I applied for a RUA Research Exchange to visit the University of Michigan to present my own research and to meet other researchers in my field.

You’re our first Community Engagement Board Member to finish their term. Why did you decide to join the board?

I joined the Community Engagement Board because I strongly supported the RUA mission and wanted to help however I can. Latinos like me are under-represented in physics, and RUA’s initiatives are fighting to make STEM more equitable.

What has been a highlight of your time with RUA?

The RUA 2022 conference at Caltech was my favorite RUA experience. I was able to network with under-represented minority grads from across the country. Over two great days, we were able to share our experiences within academia and our scientific research.

Rumor has it you’re finishing up grad school at UCLA soon and have secured a postdoc position at the University of Michigan. Both are RUA institutions. Was RUA involved in your postdoc search? If so, how?

Yes! I will graduate from UCLA in June 2023 and will begin a postdoctoral position at the University of Michigan in Fall 2023. I will be working under Professor Henriette Elvang, who hosted me during my RUA Research Exchange in 2021. Henriette’s scientific work is renowned: she literally wrote the textbook for my subfield. I was excited to visit her research group in 2021 through the RUA Research Exchange. Now I am elated to join her group and to continue my scientific career.

What words of wisdom do you have for someone considering participating in RUA?

The RUA Research Exchange was a pivotal moment in my graduate experience. Travelling to another university broadened my scientific horizons and convinced me to take the next step and apply for postdoctoral positions. I highly recommend that under-represented grads apply for a RUA Research Exchange, both to strengthen the network of minority scientists across the country and to further their own careers.