Undergraduate Spotlight: Liam Daly | College of Science
December 5, 2023

Undergraduate Spotlight: Liam Daly

Meet Liam Daly, a UNT Physics major conducting research with Dr. Jens Neu's research group. His team strives to understand material properties in the service of renewable energy production, working to characterize materials with applications in the fields of solar energy, quantum computing, and medicine.

"I have always been interested in contributing to research with the potential for positive impacts, so when I learned about the Neu group's focus on materials for solar energy applications, I knew it was a great opportunity to pursue this goal," said Liam. "From the moment I joined I felt immediately welcomed. Dr. Neu has taught me a lot about how to be a good researcher, and I feel lucky to have him as my advisor."

Liam's research strives to understand the basic low energy physics of quantum materials to foster a better understanding of these materials for future quantum computing applications. He recently received an Outstanding Undergraduate Student Poster Presentation Award at the Fall 2023 meeting of the American Physical Society for his research on THz conductivity in semimetals.

"Our group uses a technique called Terahertz-Time Domain Spectroscopy (THz-TDS) to investigate the properties of materials for applications in areas like solar energy technology and quantum computing," he said. "Basically, we learn about the material based on the way it interacts with light, in our case the light is a pulse of Terahertz radiation that lasts for less than a trillionth of a second."

Liam, who is also the co-president of the UNT chapter of the Society of Physics Students, said the most rewarding aspect of his studies at UNT has been engaging with the community. "It is so great to be surrounded by such wonderful like-minded people, and it makes every aspect of the degree more enjoyable," he said.

Of the many outstanding faculty Liam has worked with since beginning his degree at UNT, he said that his first mentor, Dr. Rebekah Purvis, has been one of the most influential, encouraging him to follow his dreams and make a career out of physics, which wasn't necessarily the original plan.

"I originally chose the University of North Texas to pursue a degree in instrumental performance," said Liam, who plays the cello. "After a year in music school though, I realized I needed a different career path, and I changed my major to physics. Such a drastic change came with its fair share of challenges, but I've loved every second of it."

Liam was recently selected as a UNT Undergraduate Research fellow, and as a part of that program he will be presenting his senior thesis work at UNT Scholars Day in April 2024. Liam will also be busy in the spring helping the Society of Physics students host their community event for total solar eclipse occurring on April 8, and of course, his expected graduation in May.

"After graduating, I plan to pursue my PhD in physics to continue working toward my goal of becoming a professor," he said. "I'm very passionate about research, but I have loved teaching since I taught cello lessons in high school, so naturally being a professor of physics would be a dream job for me."

To learn more about Dr. Neu's group, visit https://unt-thz.webador.com/

Stay up-to-date with the UNT Society of Physics Students by visiting: https://spsunt.square.site/