Rebecca Berman was a teaching assistant for the first time her sophomore year, for a freshmen-level mechanical engineering class. Her second stint, as a junior, was for a sophomore-required optics class. Now the senior is fresh from assisting an introductory course in optics—which she chose as her major because “it’s absolutely fascinating how light works.”
Starting to gain such experience early on in her college career helped Berman excel while researching nanofibers during a study-abroad program at the University of Sydney in Australia last year. While working with distinguished faculty there, she was able to transmit light through microstructured optical fibers that had been shrunk more than 100 times in size, to a diameter of one micron.
Berman, who also takes private violin lessons at the Eastman School of Music and is a member of the University of Rochester Chamber Orchestra, most appreciates her department’s student-faculty ratio.
“It’s such a tight-knit community here,” she says. “You get to know your peers and your professors really well, and that translates into the work field because everyone in the optics community knows each other, too.”
Berman has had a few job offers but is hoping to pursue a master’s degree first. As she puts it, “It’s nice to have options.”