People

Natalie Wolchover, A'08

Natalie Wolchover

…I got to work on international collaborations, present research at a conference, co-author several papers and, best of all, do real science!" (Natalie Wolchover)

Current occupation:
Staff Writer at Life's Little Mysteries, a science website. I report on cool new research, answer common science questions, and debunk paranormal claims such as UFO sightings

How do you use your physics degree and/or knowledge in your line of work?
I often write articles about new physics research, and answer questions people have about the way the universe works. Obviously a solid background in the field helps with those assignments, but it comes into play when I'm writing about seemingly unrelated topics, too. Learning physics instills you with a logical way of thinking, not just about physics problems but about problems in all areas of science, and life. When I’m consulting experts for an article I'm writing, my familiarity with the scientific method enables me to know what questions to ask, and what aspects of the topic need to be explained for lay readers.

Did the Tufts physics department prepare you for your current career path?
Yes. Aside from giving me a solid understanding of core physics concepts through small classes and lots of one-on-one time with professors, I also got involved in nonlinear optics research with Professor Fio Omenetto. I got to work on international collaborations, present research at a conference, co-author several papers and, best of all, do real science! Though I did not choose to pursue academic research, my experience in the lab as an undergrad gave me an understanding of the scientific process that has helped tremendously in my work as a science writer. It also looks impressive on a resumé, regardless of what career path you end up on.

What is your favorite memory of your time in the Tufts physics department?
There was a period of time during my sophomore year when I was virtually obsessed with quantum mechanics being wrong. The laws of physics are supposed to be elegant and intuitive, I thought, but quantum theory just seemed absurd. After hours of discussion with fellow physics majors and seasoned professors, I eventually learned to live with the murkiness of the subatomic world. Turns out, my experience mirrored that of every student of physics before me or since. I was having a "God does not play dice" moment à la Albert Einstein — a rite of passage of every physics major, and a transformative realization about the wondrous strangeness of the universe!