Physics Profile: Rachele Dominguez

Rachele Dominguez

To graduate student Rachele Dominguez, a physics education goes both ways.

A recent recipient of the Chairman’s Book Prize for Excellence in Teaching, she not only studies statistical physics at BU but she also tutors physics students at an area high school.

Rachele’s research with Professor Bill Klein takes a look at the kinetics of phase transitions. She works closely with a “clump model” that tests the dynamics of a long-range interacting system. As illustration, imagine a white box with some small black dots randomly distributed inside. As the temperature in the box is lowered below a critical point, the black dots organize themselves into clumps to lower their energy. When more black dots are introduced, the clumps reorganize into “stripes.” The results of such analysis have applications varying from nanolithography to the stability of large structures.

In another area of her graduate-student life, Rachele is founder and president of the BU Physics Educational Community , a group of astronomy and physics graduate students interested in teaching. The organization meets to discuss teaching strategies and current issues in physics education research, and organizes programs that provide new teaching fellows with resources and connect them with teaching mentors. She is also an active member of BU Women in Physics , the physics branch of Women in Science and Engineering at BU. Yet the university is not her only educational arena; she spends two days a week at the Boston Latin Academy as an NSF GK-12 fellow. Her work with computer simulations in the classroom enhances the physics component of the high school’s science curriculum.

If Rachele had not chosen to pursue physics, she might have become an ethnomusicologist. She says she doesn’t know how to play any instrument well, but she has been known to strum a few chords on her banjo. She was also once a member of a gamelan, an Indonesian musical ensemble consisting primarily of percussion instruments. In addition to her intermittent performance enterprises, Rachele loves to listen to a wide variety of music, including Middle Eastern and early jazz.

In what little spare time she has, Rachele also likes to hit the yoga mat and to travel. She has spent time in Seattle, Morocco, Spain, Scotland and always tries to go for a hike when she is near the mountains. When at home, you won’t find her in front of the TV – she doesn’t have one. But you might find her knitting a scarf. She says it’s a great way to unwind.