Gerry Angelatos successfully defends his master’s degree one year early, as the first student to complete our Accelerated Master’s program in Engineering Physics in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy.

Gerry completed his Master’s in the group of Prof. S. Hughes, studying light-matter interactions in nanowire photonic crystals, and his research work led to a series of high impact journal publications. As an undergraduate, the accelerated master’s students begin a research project in the summer of their 3rd year undergraduate degree, and complete two graduate courses on top of their undergraduate courses. Following their undergraduate degree, they then have the chance to complete a Master’s degree one year early. Gerry officially started his Master’s in May 2014 and defended his thesis work late August, 2015.

Gerry is now off to Princeton for his PhD and we wish him well. Way to go Gerry!

Gerry's feedback on the accelerated program:


As a third year student, I was first introduced to modern and active fields of physics, and the fact that I enjoyed and was much more stimulated by these courses made me begin to wonder if research was for me. The accelerated master's program at Queen's was an excellent opportunity for me to experience what research actually entails, and learn a massive amount of physics and research skills, without committing to a 5 year PhD program or even a standard 2 year Master's degree. After selecting a supervisor whose research interests and approach to physics were very well aligned with mine, I was able to start in the summer after 3rd year. In this initial summer term, my supervisor encouraged me to spend a lot of time covering the background and exploring various topics before selecting a direction that I was interested in, something which one often doesn't have time to do in a 4th year thesis and which allowed me to both understand my project much more thoroughly and chose one which I was actually passionate about. I also completed a smaller summer research project, which helped prepare me for the rest of the program and was very rewarding, as I was able to apply the skills and knowledge I had developed through the engineering physics program for really the first time.

In 4th year, in addition to the standard core curriculum, I took 3 graduate level courses and continued my research, which I presented as a 4th year thesis at the end of the term. I enjoyed the more advanced and interesting content and individual approach of the graduate courses compared with the undergraduate ones I had taken to this point, and was also able to take courses which provided a very helpful background for my research project. I took as many graduate courses as I could in 4th year for this reason, although my peers were also successful taking the standard 2. Because of the head start I had had in the summer, I was able to produce a very thorough and complete 4th year thesis, and was able to present this work at a conference the following summer. After completing my Engineering physics degree, I immediately returned to research full time that summer, working on projects directly based off the foundation of work I had built up over the past year. I was able to publish two papers in high impact journals (Physical Review B: and Physical Review A Rapids: from the work I did that summer as a result; and I have just submitted another paper to Physical Review Letters.

I became a full time graduate student in the fall, continuing research, taking my remaining graduate course, and working as a TA, which I enjoyed. During both the summers and the year as a full time graduate student, I was able to work at a more relaxed pace, and really focus and devote a lot of my time to my research project, as opposed to in undergrad when I was trying to juggle six or more courses. I obviously preferred this and felt I was able to get more done while also living a more balanced lifestyle. In the summer following my graduate year I wrapped up my research projects, wrote and defended my Master's thesis, and submitted a third paper.

Overall, I was very happy with my experience in the accelerated master's program. I was lucky to find an excellent supervisor, Dr. Stephen Hughes, whose research was very well aligned with my interests and who worked very hard to ensure that I had a successful research project. Our research is in theoretical nanophotonics, investigating the fundamental physics of cutting-edge nanostructures and exploring applications for future nano and quantum technologies. We work with experimental groups around the world at the forefront of emerging nanotechnologies and exploring new regimes of physics. I particularly appreciate Steve's very rigorous, first-principals approach to physics, and this group was a perfect fit for me as it combined my interest in fundamental physics with my desire, as an engineer at heart, to design real structures for practical applications. The fact that I was passionate about and motivated by my project resulted in a much more successful and enjoyable research experience. Under Dr. Hughes's mentorship, I developed the skills required to be an effective researcher and also learned that research was in fact for me. I will be starting my PhD in Princeton this fall, and I feel that the accelerated master's program made me a much more desirable applicant to PhD programs and also helped my decision-making process. As I was already an active researcher in quantum optics, I was better able to judge the quality of various research groups and decide which specific projects I want to work on and can be most successful with. I look forward to the next step of my career in research and encourage anyone who is contemplating graduate school to explore the various projects offered through the accelerated master's program.”


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