Molly Griston standing in front of a body of water, smiling.


University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Major: Physics BS

Molly Griston is from Pleasanton, California. She is attending the University of Rochester as a rising third-year student with a major in physics. Molly remembers as a kid her love for math. Instead of reading books in bed with her mom at night, she asked her mom to talk about math. They would talk math each night and there she received her introduction to how math is involved in so much of her daily life and world around her. Her interest in physics grew from realizing she could do a lot of math with applications in life.

Molly is working this summer with Dr. Ben Zwickl. The first part of the research will gather interviews from approximately 10 faculty members who conduct research in varying subfields of theoretical physics, as well as some of their postdocs and graduate students. The interviews will be analyzed to understand how theoretical physicists make decisions, how they use math, and their various cognitive processes. Their expert processes will be compared with what undergraduates are learning in the classroom in order to make theoretical physics more accessible and less thought of as requiring “genius.”

Molly’s future plans involve many considerations. However, the frontrunner is to earn a Ph.D. in physics and work in physics education research.

Her REU virtual experience has still allowed her to get to know others and discuss research while bonding over social activities via Zoom such as sharing favorite food recipes or having a pet show and tell.