Q & A
Challenging boundaries

Q & A with sophomore Paula Romero Bermudez

Major: Physics and Computer Science

Background: “I was born in Venezuela, but I moved to Spain when I was eleven years old with my parents, and I have lived in Spain since then.”

Favorite spot in Indy: the Broad Ripple Village cultural district

Fun fact: “I’ve simultaneously done gymnastics and ballet for years alongside being a physics and computer science major.”

 Q: What are some differences between schools in the U.S. and Spain?

A: “Venezuelan schools are more similar to American schools than Spanish schools are. The orientation is basically the same. They try to focus on competencies, not theory. High schools in Spain are very theoretical and not very practical, but they give you a lot of knowledge.”

Q: Talk about your summer internship.


A: “There were three locations, Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Texas, and mine was in Pittsburgh. It was 10 weeks long, funded by the National Science Foundation, and awarded to 17 students across the nation. I think there were about 100 applicants. My project was a little bit of physics and computer science. I was given access to a code, written by a PhD chemistry student in Arkansas, and a supercomputer. At this point, I had a very vague idea of what a supercomputer was. My task was to write some directives and instructions for the code, which was run on the supercomputer. I was given three different data inputs that the student was going to be using. The first one didn’t last very long, probably about five minutes. The last one was very impressive. It was so large, and took more than twelve hours to run on a normal computer. I had to stop it before it could finish. After seven weeks I was able to run the code for ten to fifteen minutes.”

Q: How did you get that internship?

A: “I found one internship and asked the head of the physics department for help. Since I am an international student, the prerequisites are a little different. The next morning I got an email from him saying there was this other opportunity, and the deadline was that Friday. This was a Monday, so I had four days to figure it out and get all the documentation within a day and a half. The process started in March with a 45-minute conference call, and I got accepted.”

Q: Are you planning more internships?

A: “I’m waiting to hear if I’m chosen for an internship with Google this summer. I should hear soon!”

 Note: Good news—Paula did get the Google internship!

Q: Do you have a favorite professor?

A: “I don’t know if I can say I have a favorite professor. We’re such a small department that we get along very well. Dr. Tim Duman is the head of the physics department. I’m taking my third class with him and we get along so well. My advisor, Brian Vermillion, is also someone I get along very well with. Drs. Duman and Steve Spicklemire are very helpful to me. Professor Peter Berg told me I was capable of doing the internship, even if I didn’t know all the requirements at that time.”

Q: How would you describe the dynamics between you and the professors in your major?

A: “I would say my professors have helped me a lot, especially the ones that I’ve been able to bond with. They are really glad to have me here, and that is probably one of the biggest things that UIndy has given me—that personal relationship with my professors.”

Q: What advice do you have for those thinking about studying abroad?

A: “I’d encourage them to do it! It gives you a broader image of what it means to be a person. It also shows you how different the world is, and that ‘different’ isn’t ‘wrong.’ It can be a good thing. So learn to expand your mind and have an open view of things.”

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