Maverick Science Student Stories

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Joshua Osborne

Meet Joshua

Ph.D. student in Physics; earned B.S. in Physics from UTA in fall 2019

Fun fact: Plays the violin

I grew up in Corpus Christi but moved to Arlington around 7th grade. When I was deciding where to go to college as an undergraduate, my brother had gone to UTA and he told me good things about it. I also got to visit the campus as part of the AVID college readiness program and I enjoyed the campus environment.

For graduate school, I had gotten to know the physics professors and also enjoyed the research I had done during my last semesters as an undergraduate, and so I decided I wanted to stay here at UTA.

As a kid I used to watch a lot of astrophysics documentaries, which was my first introduction to physics, and eventually I began watching YouTube videos about everything physics-related. I think what I love about physics is just that it tries to explain the world around us and that there’s still so much we don’t know.

I got my bachelor’s degree in December 2019 and I started doing research during my last year as an undergraduate. During that time, I won the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation Award at the 2019 Texas Section meeting of the American Physical Society. That was exciting and surprising, since it was the first time I had ever presented research at a conference.

My current work is still in high-energy astrophysics, working specifically with Gamma-ray burst data, which is my main research focus. Additionally though, I’m assisting in a traffic engineering problem and on a bioinformatics problem.

I recently became involved as a helper in the Software Carpentry Workshops offered here at UTA. The workshops teach students computational tools, such as Python, that are useful for more efficient research. Hopefully I’ll get to be an instructor soon in some of them, too.

My professors have been amazing. They’re always available whenever you need help. My Ph.D. advisor, Dr. (Amir) Shahmoradi, has helped me improve my presentation skills where I had practically none before. He teaches skills to me and other students that will be useful whether in academia or industry. He also always tries to make time to help students and has, on occasion, even met with me over Microsoft Teams past midnight to talk if I’m having trouble implementing something for research.

Additionally, he always reminds his students to be more accommodating to people with colorblindness when presenting results so that it is accessible to as many people as possible, which is something I hadn’t thought of previously.

Dr. (Zdzislaw) Musielak is also one of my favorite professors as it’s refreshing to see someone enjoy his job so much and bring a smile to class every day. You can tell how much he loves interacting with his students and that he fosters an aura of communication and curiosity among his students.

I think my experiences at UTA have prepared me well for a career, both in thinking critically about a problem and also in giving me experience in many computer programming languages. I feel like both are applicable to many career paths.

I’m not entirely sure yet what I’d like to do when I finish my Ph.D. At the moment I’d like to keep working in academia, but if I end up working in industry then I’d probably want to work in the field of data science.