Nolan Coble ’20
BS in Physics & MathematicsNolan Coble ’20 landed a research opportunity at the University of Maryland while double majoring in Physics and Mathematics. That research led to acceptance into the PhD in Computer Science program at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Why did you choose Brockport?
“I am now a third year PhD student in the Computer Science department at the University of Maryland, College Park. My research is in the area of quantum information science. One side of my research is focused on understanding computational problems that can (or cannot) be solved using quantum devices. The other side of my research deals with finding ways to correct errors that necessarily occur when trying to perform a computation with a quantum system.
I enjoy research and plan to continue in quantum computing when I graduate. Both academia and industry are actively researching quantum computing and at this point, I’m not sure which I will direction I will choose. I especially like working with undergraduate/early PhD students and sharing what I have learned with them, so I am leaning towards staying in academia.
I chose to attend a SUNY school largely because of the NYS STEM Incentive Program that covered tuition expenses. I specifically picked Brockport because of the Honors program, the proximity to family, and the variety of STEM majors available. I was able to take a very broad range of classes across multiple disciplines, which may not have been possible at other universities.”
What is your most significant academic accomplishment?
“I believe my most significant accomplishment was being accepted to/participating in a research experience for undergraduates (REU) program at the University of Maryland in Summer 2019 and subsequently publishing two papers based on that experience. During the REU, I worked with a machine learning model called Reservoir Computing to predict the dynamics of complex physical systems. My work from that summer was recently published in Physical Review Letters.
When I returned to Brockport in Fall 2019, I took an artificial intelligence course and for the final project I adapted the technique of Reservoir Computing to a standard problem in machine learning, which had not been done before. I wrote a short paper on the results with Professor Ning Yu which was accepted at the 2020 ACM Southeast conference.”
How has the above experience impacted your future plans?
“It convinced me that I am capable of academic research and that research can be both fun and rewarding. Acceptance into REU programs is very competitive, but my education at Brockport led me to participate in two REUs. Thanks to these programs and the papers that came out of them, I was ultimately accepted to a PhD program at the University of Maryland, which had been my dream school for years. The experience also exposed me to the more computational aspects of physics which has become indispensable to my current research.”
What would you tell a future student interested in your field of study?
“I have struggled in the past with choosing what to do with my career. I love what physics can tell me about the world, but I also enjoy the abstraction of math and computer science. Working in quantum computing, I’m not restricted to one particular field. I can work on a physics-inspired problem one day and switch to an entirely computational topic the next. Quantum computing gives you the freedom to explore a wide range of topics and it is a rapidly growing field with a lot of exciting opportunities.”