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Student Profile: Joseph Lucero
Physics Master's student in the Faculty of Science
I am a Masters student in Physics under the supervision of Dr. David Sivak. My primary research interest is nonequilibrium thermodynamics, particularly as it applies to biophysical systems.
I grew up in the Lower Mainland after my family moved here from the Philippines over 15 years ago and I did my undergraduate degree at SFU in Honors Biological Physics. When I’m not at my computer, I enjoy playing music, reading about philosophy, and (before COVID) checking out the many restaurants and cafes dotted around Burnaby and Vancouver with friends.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO COME TO SFU?
The Physics Department at Simon Fraser University has a particularly strong group of faculty working in Biophysics field, who also maintain interdisciplinary links to other departments and faculties. The Biophysics group at SFU is also well known for having one of the most active, ongoing, seminar series that brings in different speakers every week to talk about cutting edge research that is happening in the field. Moreover, having completed an undergraduate thesis with my current supervisor Dr. Sivak, by staying at SFU I could build on the ideas that I was working on previously and could, as it were, “hit the ground running” on my Masters research. These factors together, ultimately made me decide that SFU was the right choice for me for my Masters.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR RESEARCH AND/OR PROGRAM.
In a nutshell, I work to understand the behaviors of the really small molecular motors operating inside our cells that are responsible for our body’s continued function. I mathematically model the behavior of these motors and I run simulations of experiments on the computer to figure out how these motors would behave under different conditions. In so doing, I look for design principles underlying these motors, principles that potentially give a hint as to why nature has selected for a specific design for these motors and why those designs would make them work optimally in the conditions that they normally function. This research would then inform our understanding of certain diseases that arise from non-optimal operation of these molecular motors and the insights derived from it could have applications as inspiration for artificial molecular motors.
WHAT ARE YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOYING ABOUT YOUR STUDIES/RESEARCH AT SFU?
I really like the size of the Physics department at SFU. It is large enough and has faculty with a diversity of interests that it always feels like a place where cutting edge research is happening but also is small enough that I am at least familiar with most (if not all) of the graduate students in the department and I have a rough idea of what most of them are working on. The size also helps the department feel more connected (even with COVID) and it particularly makes it easy to approach other students or professors and get their perspective either on research or career-related matters.
HAVE YOU BEEN THE RECIPIENT OF ANY MAJOR OR DONOR FUNDED AWARDS?
I have been the fortunate recipient of the BC Graduate Scholarship and the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alexander Graham-Bell Canadian Graduate Scholarship Masters (NSERC CGS M) during my Masters and I was the recipient of the SFU Physics Charter Faculty Award during my undergraduate degree. These awards have been very helpful in giving me the opportunity to focus solely on research without the need to accommodate other duties like teaching and they have been a large determinant of my research productivity thus far. Awards like the CGS M that you have to actively apply for has also given me much needed experience in learning how to “pitch” my research which will no doubt be useful as I apply for other research grants in the future.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE?
If you want to know more about my research or me in general, do check out my website at https://www.jnelucero.com/. In particular, if you have any research ideas that you think I could contribute to, feel free to shoot me a message!