A Conversation with Jared Hudnall '24, CNAS Transfer Student

Portrait of CNAS student Jared Hudnall

Jared Hudnall ’24
Mentone, California 

Major: Physics
Campus activities: University Honors, STEM Connections, CNAS Science Ambassadors, Dark Matter and Neutrino Lab
Hobbies: Chess
Favorite place to hang out on campus: Physics Building, STEM Center, Orbach Science Library

Tell us a little about yourself.
I transferred from Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College to UC Riverside in Fall 2022 as a physics major. I’d like to stay in academia and do physics research at an institution not unlike UC Riverside in the future.

What first got you interested in studying physics?
When I started at community college, I figured out that I was interested in pursuing a career in the sciences, but I didn’t know what. When I took a calculus-based physics course, my first physics class ever, I immediately switched majors and never looked back. Studying physics lends an incredibly deep insight into the nature of the universe, more than anything I ever thought possible. 

How did you first learn about UC Riverside?
Having grown up only half an hour away, I feel like I’ve always known of UC Riverside, but never much about it. I met a few UC Riverside undergraduates who visited my community college, but didn’t visit the campus until Highlander Day for transfer students. I got to check out the beautiful campus and meet a bunch of the amazing faculty, staff, and students!

What made you decide to attend UC Riverside?
The people! The first time I visited campus, I got to talk to the physics and astronomy student organizations, University Honors, and the Transfer Success Program. Everybody was so friendly and understanding - some of the physics students talked to me for over half an hour about classes, professors, research, and student life! Everybody I talked to was so humble, outgoing, and driven that it removed all doubt.

What was the transition process like?
I participated in UC Riverside’s RISE Summer Bridge to Research Program, where I completed a 10-week (paid) summer internship at UC Riverside studying artificial deep neural network models through a theoretical lens. I made a lot of great friends and learned a lot about the on-campus programs and resources on campus. It made my transition from community college to university smooth and seamless, and I owe a lot to the folks over at RISE!

What’s the experience been like thus far?
Absolutely amazing! The faculty are exceptional, my peers are wicked smart, and just as eager to learn as I am. The staff are here to help us succeed. The environment at UC Riverside is centered around collaboration and cooperation, and we all work hard together to see everybody win.

How was the adjustment from semesters to quarters?
I greatly prefer the quarter system. It’s much more fast-paced…the semester system was so long that, by the time finals came around, I was ready for it to be over. When you transition to 10-week quarters, you have to hit the ground running, but before you know it, you’re halfway through the term. 

Can you tell us more about University Honors?
University Honors is an incredible resource for transfer students in particular, because they completely understand the challenge of coming to the university with only two years left. They remove a lot of the requirements that traditional students have to complete and instead focus on the capstone research project. This project might consist of research or a creative activity, depending on your major, that you complete with a faculty member. As a transfer student, you should be looking for research activities and letters of recommendation right out of the gate, so University Honors is a great advantage! 

You’re also involved in STEM Connections. What is that?
STEM Connections is a program tailored predominantly to transfer students that offers a support system and a network of resources. [STEM Connections] directs a number of events throughout each quarter, including field trips, social events, faculty mixers, and more. The program consists of a number of peer mentors who know the ropes and want to see you succeed as you transition to university life!

What’s your go-to chess move?
Always the wrong one…

Are you involved in any research projects?
Yes! I’m in the Dark Matter and Neutrino Lab at UC Riverside, designing components for a remarkably large, cutting-edge dark matter detector being constructed underground in Italy. I’m also writing and running particle physics simulations. I’ve learned a ton, including computer-aided design software, programming and technical skills, cryogenic systems design, and more. I’ve also attended conferences, collaborated with international physicists and engineers, and got to set up the server for our lab! I’m also working with one of the theoretical astrophysicists at UC Riverside on a cosmological simulation project investigating the trends in the star formation rates of satellite galaxies shortly after being accreted into orbit around a large host galaxy. Next year, I’m thinking I’d like to get involved in the Quantum Materials Optoelectronics lab. Needless to say, there’s lots of opportunities at UC Riverside for undergraduates to do amazing work!

What are your plans for the summer?
I’ll be spending a few months in Italy on the development of bleeding-edge photoelectronics for employment in particle detectors and other new and exciting physics experiments. 

What’s something every new transfer student should know about UC Riverside?
Unlike a number of other universities, the students here aren’t here to out-compete you - that’s just not the tone or temperament of the student body. The environment at UC Riverside rewards collaboration, and everybody wants to see each other succeed.

What three words would you use to describe UC Riverside?
Inclusive, research-driven, and collaborative.

What advice do you have for transfer students who are considering UC Riverside?
As transfer students, we have a significant disadvantage compared to traditional students – time. You’re going to want letters of recommendation and research experience - UCR is a research institution, after all! You’ll have to hit the ground running and network early, but UC Riverside gives you all of the resources you need to make it happen! 

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