Celebrating the graduates of Fall 2020: Jens Boos

Meet some of the graduating class of Fall 2020—and celebrate convocation virtually with them on November 20.

News Staff - 18 November 2020

In 2020, convocation at the University of Alberta is taking place virtually. Join us on November 20th when our graduates, proud family and friends, and instructors will celebrate the class of Fall 2020’s hard work and achievements. 

Today, meet Jens Boos, Vanier scholar graduating with a PhD in theoretical physics from the Department of Physics, and hear about his experience with research competitions and pacing yourself for success.

What led you to pick UAlberta for your studies?

The excellent research group in gravity—professors Valeri Frolov and Don Page—was what convinced me to apply to the University of Alberta. However, its openness to international students was also a decisive factor. There were ample opportunities to apply for scholarships as an international student, which lifted a huge financial burden off of me, and allowed me to focus on research full-time.

Tell us about your experience in the Faculty of Science.

The Faculty of Science fosters a very open communication between the disciplines. The Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Research (CCIS) is another example of the exemplary exchange of ideas that is fostered at the University of Alberta. It is an exciting environment!

It was a lot of fun to be part of the Images of Research competition through UAlberta Library where many of the natural sciences were present. 

I was thrilled to launch the weekly Student Meetings series in the Department of Physics—these lectures cover topics usually not addressed in the physics colloquium, and it was great to have the full support of the physics department as well as the Faculty of Science for those meetings. During those meetings we have many lively discussions with students from theoretical and experimental physics, and I like to think that we all learned a lot during these weekly get-togethers. After five consecutive instalments of these meetings (from 2017 to 2020) I will miss hosting them, but I am sure there will be many other interesting opportunities for graduate students in the Faculty of Science.

My most recent interaction with the Faculty was the notification that I was awarded a dissertation prize for my doctoral thesis. I had a fantastic time here in Edmonton, I will always cherish my memories, and I thank the Faculty of Science for all their support and for making me feel welcome from the first minute.

What is one of your favourite memories from your time at UAlberta?

My favourite memory has to be the Three Minute Thesis competition. It was very demanding to prepare for the event and try to compress all of my work into three minutes, but it was one of the most rewarding experiences as well.

I remember waiting with everybody in the green room, backstage, waiting for our names to be called on stage in front of a live audience. There was an air of excitement and nervous electricity in the room. Some folks were going through their prepared speech, others were just smiling with expectation, others pacing about. As different as all our disciplines are, there was a strong feeling of community and mutual excitement in the room.

It was truly humbling to see all the fantastic work being done by graduate students at the University of Alberta, and it was a great honor to be one of the 2019 finalists.

What advice do you have for current and future students at the Faculty of Science?

A PhD thesis is a marathon and not a sprint. Pace yourself, pick a topic that you love, and don't forget to have a life outside of the university as well! Canada is a beautiful country, go explore it with some friends. Of course COVID-19 has changed travel plans, so please be responsible. There are many things you can explore outside while hiking with the appropriate social distancing.

How have you spent your time during COVID-19 distancing?

I spent the months of March to August mostly at home, finishing my PhD thesis. Ironically, COVID-19 has kept me laser-focused on my thesis and has allowed me to finish it without any distractions. I was also very fortunate to have received additional Vanier funding due to COVID-19-related delays, so that was a tremendous help.

How do you plan on celebrating convocation?

I will have a Zoom/Skype hangout with all my international friends.

What's next after graduation?

I am starting a postdoctoral position in high-energy physics at the College of William & Mary in WIlliamsburg, Virginia. Even though I am sad to leave Canada, another exciting adventure awaits. And who knows, maybe one day I will be back in Canada!