Q&A with physics junior


Junior Chris Jang studies physics and astronomy and aspires to be an astronaut. Photo by David Fitch.

Chimes sat down with junior physics major Chris Jang to talk about his life as he enters the final stretch of his undergraduate studies. Chris is originally from Seoul, South Korea, but completed the last years of high school in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania. His dream is to go to space.

Chimes: Why did you choose to study physics?

Jang: Physics is something I’ve always wanted to do. I don’t know why it intrigued me because astronomy is kind of a branched-out version of physics, and in high school, physics was easier for me. You know, if it’s easier, then you have less stress and you think you like that class more, and astronomy was always interesting–how stars are formed, even though it is all theoretical. You only observe it as one dot, one pixel in the camera, but what people can think about it by just one pixel is just quite phenomenal.

Chimes: What are your fears as an upperclassman?

Jang: Two things. I still don’t know what I want to do for grad school. For me, advanced physics classes have been really challenging. It sounds very dumb, but I didn’t realize that you really have to work on things instead of just barely getting through doing what you have to.

That’s just been hitting me hard. At first I didn’t realize, and I thought, “Well maybe I’m just not good with physics,” and, “Is this the right path? Did I make

the right choice?”

And the other thing is becoming an adult once I graduate. Let’s say if I don’t get into grad school, what am I going to do? These days, what I’ve been getting is that you’ve gotta love what you do. If you don’t love it, pursue different things. But at certain points, you can’t blindly pursue that, with some exceptions. For me it doesn’t feel like you can blindly pursue that because at some time along the line, you will not like what you are doing because the expectation you had won’t be what it is in reality.

Chimes: What inspires you about what you do?

Jang: I guess two things. The meaning of being up there, being in that space, that just sounds so fascinating. And also, growing up when I was little, looking up in the sky. That desire to explore has been what’s been driving me. I’ve been working hard. At least, I’ve been telling myself that I’ve been working hard because I don’t want to waste the time of right now.

Sure, I might not know why I’m doing this one assignment of finding integrals and like what this will lead to, but instead of complaining about it and wasting time, I’d rather try my best and make sure the door is open instead of getting a bad grade. So that’s why I’ve been trying my best. At least, trying to be the best I can be so that I don’t regret in the future.

Chimes: Who have been some of your mentors?

Jang: The biggest mentor would be my brother because he never told me to, like, do this and do that, but he was always there to listen to what I wanted to do and always showing what it’s like to be a Christian. And sure he’s not perfect, sure he makes mistakes and everyone is not perfect, but he admits it. I do see it, but the fact that he’s trying, trying to seek God in everyday life.

He did philosophy and kinesiology and now he is studying down in North Carolina for physical therapy but then, in the midst of doing all that, showing the rooting in God was definitely what’s been helping me alot.

Because recently I’ve been really thinking that all these things that we do, sure it’s very inspiring and you have a great passion and great ambitions that I want to do, but then, all these things [have to be] rooted in how this can glorify God and to worship God.

That was the biggest thing in the past two years because I wasn’t really devoted or dedicated to God. I only knew God through books and stuff, but the past two years, he has shown

me a lot of what it’s like to be a Christian.

This interview has been condensed and edited.