Terrence Pierre Jacques

SKA, South Africa
Undergraduate Institution
Oberlin College
Graduate program, Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University

Terrence is currently enrolled in the Graduate program at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University 

Q. What country were you staying in?

South Africa

Q. Where were you doing research?

SKA South Africa

Q. How long were you there?

8 weeks

Q. What sort of research were you doing?

This summer I studied how to use software to accurately time and model pulsars, as well as the glitches that occur particularly in young and millisecond pulsars. I also learned some tensor calculus and used it to find equations of motion for orbits around schwarzschild black holes, starting from the line element description. I dabbled a bit using Blender to visually model pulsars orbiting black holes and the precession of the spin axis of the pulsar that results.

Q. Did being abroad influence the kind of research you’re doing?

Definitely, as I was able to interact with people from various backgrounds, and I felt like I was learning something new every day! And as an African American student, it was really inspiring to see other people of color in science and engineering working right beside me!

Q. What’s the coolest thing about being abroad?

One of the coolest things about being abroad in South Africa was the environment, in terms of the numerous natural sights. Being from New York, I don’t get to see that stuff very often, and some of the places were just mind-blowing.

Q. What’s your favorite new phrase from the language?

Braai - a cook out starting from burning wood and cooking various meats. South Africa’s meat is pretty great!

Q. What’s the hardest thing about being abroad?

Working around time zones to communicate with friends and family was hard for me. I like to stay updated with my younger brother, but being six hours ahead made that difficult.

Q. What did you do in your free time?

Hung out with my house-mates, who were also working with me. We explored Cape Town, went on several hikes, and climbed a ton!

Q. What’s the coolest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?

Climbing up enormous sand dunes! I didn’t think they could get that tall!

Q. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done or seen while abroad?

Every morning I saw, and heard, hadida birds. They make the weirdest sounds…

Q. What advice would you offer others thinking of going abroad?

To just be open to new experiences, and to try not to arrive with any sort of stringent expectations.

Q. What skills have you learned abroad?

I learned how to belay in rock climbing! I had a vague idea before, but now I can do it safely.

Q. Is there anything you’d do differently or anything you wish you’d have known?

I wish I knew how to budget more efficiently, since it’s a required life skill.