Departing Haverford with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics, Gerrit Farren ‘20, a student from Mönchengladbach, Germany, is continuing his academic journey at the University of Cambridge, where is working towards a Ph.D. in cosmology with Dr. Blake Sherwin.
“In the U.K., it is common to obtain a taught master’s degree before working on a Ph.D., and so the Ph.D. program does not include classes, but is entirely research based. I will, however, take some classes in Cambridge’s master’s program that are particularly relevant to my work,” Farren said. “My main research focus will be on gravitational lensing of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the radiation left over from the Big Bang.”
Farren credited Haverford for preparing him for introducing him to research early on in his academic career. He began work in the labs of Daniel Grin, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, and Bruce Partridge, professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, during the spring semester of his first year. His senior thesis research with Grin was related to the work he is beginning at Cambridge, and he also paid tribute to Grin’s computational physics class, which he said provided a strong foundation for methods he still uses in research.
“Bruce was there to support me through the graduate school application and selection process as well, and there really is no way in which I can adequately express how much I owe him,” Farren said. “Additionally… Dan has been incredibly helpful in improving my research skills, introducing me to theoretical physics research, and improving on my scientific writing in the process of working on my thesis.”
Farren said he was inspired to further his academic career in the United Kingdom after spending the past two summers working at Imperial College London and Durham University and following a positive visit to the University of Cambridge.
“I just found that I really enjoyed the academic climate there,” he said. “I also wanted to return to Europe after graduating from Haverford for a while to be a little closer to my family.”
Beyond his Ph.D., Farren hopes to continue a career in academia, continuing his research and teaching at the collegiate level himself eventually.