Initially attracted to the field of quantum mechanics, 22-year-old Michael St- Jules has earned the Governor General’s Silver Medal for his achievement in mathematics.
“I wanted to study theoretical physics,” says the Sault Ste. Marie native, “but also to understand the math behind it. Carleton was one of the few universities with a program with enough breadth in both math and physics.”
St-Jules was also attracted to Carleton’s involvement in the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, and the underground science laboratory SNOLAB near Sudbury that specializes in neutrino and dark matter physics.
“What drew me to physics was the unintuitive nature of quantum mechanics and the philosophical questions it raises, for example, ‘Is the universe deterministic?’ and ‘Does a particle simultaneously have a definite position and momentum?’”
St-Jules enrolled in the Bachelor of Science, double honours Mathematics and Physics degree program in the fall of 2011, because he believed he would need the courses for theoretical physics. But he became enamoured with mathematical logic, theoretical computer science and mathematical analysis. He graduated in November 2014 with a Bachelor of Mathematics with high distinction and a minor in computer science.
“I took a break from physics but my analysis courses and current research have revived my interest in it.”
St-Jules is currently researching quantum cryptography for a master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Ottawa.
Reflecting on his Carleton experience, St-Jules admits the mathematics staff enhanced his years at Carleton and, most recently, the Carleton Math Society, where he made “some really good friends with unique personalities.”
Some of his math professors were particularly influential in his education and his habits.
“The amount of detail I put into my work has come from Paul Mezo’s algebra course. No line is left unjustified (and) 20-page handwritten assignments have become common for me. Sometimes that’s just what it takes to be right. In Michael Moore’s Elements of Set Theory class, I learned about the foundations of mathematics, which are still deeply interesting to me.
“My favourite courses and hardest courses were the same. Mehrdad Kalantar’s Real Analysis II was very interactive. It was in this course that I discovered how cool analysis can be.”