Justin Malave with his mentor, Dr. David Ernst, a theoretical physicist at Vanderbilt University

Justin Malave '18 presented his summer particle research at a national conference in Salt Lake City.

Physics major earns coveted research post and national fellowship

October 30, 2017

Justin Malave with his mentor, Dr. David Ernst, a theoretical physicist at Vanderbilt University

Senior physics major Justin Malave '18 secured one of 10 highly-coveted undergraduate research spots at Vanderbilt University this summer, conducting a study that earned him a national fellowship and conference presentation.

Under the guidance of Vanderbilt’s theoretical physicist, Dr. David Ernst, Malave hunted a new particle.

Should its existence be confirmed, the discovery of the particle would lead to building more consistent particle detectors. Malave believes this, in turn, would revolutionize risk management standards relating to nuclear power and radioactive materials.

Fellowship and conference presentation

SACNAS works to promote diversity in the STEM professionsMalave’s work earned him the Victor Blanco Undergraduate Research Fellowship as well as the support of the American Physical Society.

With these endorsements, he presented his research findings at this month's 2017 Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference in Salt Lake City, the largest diversity in STEM conference in the country.  

Faculty Support for Fearless Learning

Malave credits BW faculty for his science success. "BW taught me how to learn and how to not fear the possibility of being wrong."

In fact, Malave didn’t start out majoring in physics. "I didn't have the confidence to pursue a science degree; but with the assistance and support of BW staff and faculty, I quickly learned I had the mind to be a science major."

"Justin's unquenchable thirst for knowledge is evident to anyone who talks to him," said mathematics professor Dr. Aaron Montgomery. "He is a walking example of the kind of dedicated, persistent and well-rounded student we hope to cultivate at BW."

Pursuing a Doctoral Degree

Upon graduation, Malave will attend graduate school with the goal of earning a Ph.D. in physics.

The North Ridgeville High School graduate is devoted to Cleveland and plans to remain in the area to share his talents once he's earned his degree.