Physics Major Wins SACNAS Award

The Society for the Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos & Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) honored physics major Rhys Taus ’15 with a student presentation award at the 2014 SACNAS Conference held in Los Angeles this past October.

“I was pretty shocked,” admitted Taus, upon learning that he won an award. “I was essentially presenting my thesis, and didn’t have firm results yet.” Taus’ poster presentation examined how having a minimal length scale affects things at larger scales. His area of research built on the idea that things in the universe can only be so small, a theoretical physics concept explored by another student studying black holes and black hole properties.

Taus’ poster was a standout among the 1,000 posters and nearly 100 oral presentations delivered at the conference.

“Rhys Taus’ communication skills and command of the research topic are exemplary,” said Jessica Macias, a program manager for the SACNAS Student Presentations Committee. She noted that the committee often receives feedback from attendees about the caliber of student work: undergraduate research is frequently mistaken as graduate level work.

“Rhys is an excellent student who is a hard worker,” said Taus’ mentor Jonas Mureika, a professor of physics. “He is joyfully curious about Physics. While in my particle physics course, Rhys obviously loved learning the material and always wanted to know more. As a student researcher, he is more like a graduate student. He takes ownership of his projects, pays extremely close attention to detail, and is responsible about deadlines.”

After graduating, Taus plans to pursue his doctorate in Particle Physics. He’s been accepted into programs at the University of Rochester and Baylor University.

Following graduate school, he is planning a career in academia, preferably at a smaller institution. “So many people and professors have helped me along my path at LMU, and I would like to help others,” said Taus.

He is President of the Loyola Marymount University Chapter of SACNAS and is also involved in the Underwings Club, a service group on campus that works with the Guadalupe Homeless Project in Boyle Heights.

Taus is also a McNair Scholar, a program established to increase graduate degree awards for students from underrepresented groups. He is the only student serving on the Seaver College of Science and Engineering’s Dean Search Committee.