Matthew Murphy ’20 Unlocks Puzzles in Astronomy

For URECA Summer Researcher Matthew Murphy, doing research “feels like solving puzzles.”
“I’ve always loved doing that,” he said. “I’ve loved looking at things unconventionally. Every day when I sit at my computer, or start to code, it feels like I’m solving something new, a new puzzle no one has ever done before which is really exciting to me.”

Matthew Murphy

Undergraduate researcher Matthew Murphy ’20

A senior in the Honors College majoring in Physics and Astronomy/Planetary Sciences, Matt has been enjoying the chance to do full-time summer research under the mentorship of Dr. Philip Armitage (Department of Physics & Astronomy) on Planetary Formation; investigating the threshold between the circular orbit limit and secular chaos within which secular and resonant effects both contribute to the instability of a planetary system. 
Matthew began working with Dr. Armitage in the beginning of the year, after contacting him in the fall semester to discuss his work on planet formation. Doing research has provided Matt an opportunity to hone his expertise in high performance computing, as well as make significant progress on his honors college senior thesis. In addition, Matthew is also in the process of drafting a publication with Dr. Surajit Sen of SUNY Buffalo on the dynamics of granular matter – a continuation of an ongoing research project he started in Summer 2017.
“I‘d always been interested in planets and planetary systems ever since I was a little kid,” Matthew said. “My parents bought me a telescope – and I would look at the the moon, Mars, and all the planets, watch all these documentaries, so I always had this passing interest.”
Matthew’s long-term goals are to pursue a PhD in astrophysics, and to continue to investigate planetary formation and evolution.
At Stony Brook, he has served as a Teaching assistant for Calculus IV. He is a graduate of West Seneca East Senior HS in Buffalo, NY and is a first generation college student. He is the recipient of a United Food & Commercial Workers Union Scholarship. Matt’s hobbies include kayaking and backpacking.

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