Isabella Vesely

Year of Graduation: 

"I hope to use what I explore in physics and engineering and computer science to make sure we have a very ethical way of living that’s more efficient.”

By fourth grade, Isabella Vesely ’23 was focused on science. The Wisconsinite started robotics teams and later “stumbled upon” weekly lectures at the local university’s planetarium, where she took notes eagerly, surrounded by college students. By the end of middle school, she was two years ahead of her class in math, and a teacher recommended that she apply to Exeter.

Delighted as a prep to be able to choose classes in any branch of science, Vesely quickly realized her favorite was physics, for its expansive focus on everything, including particles and galaxy clusters. She barreled through Exeter’s entire physics curriculum. “Physics really helped me have this analytical mind, always questioning.”

This summer, Vesely participated in the QuarkNet Summer Research Program, a paid virtual opportunity for high school students. It is supported by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and is home to the world’s second-largest particle accelerator.

Vesely and a partner were assigned to imaging galaxy clusters across millimeter, optical and X-ray wavelength bands. Those were combined with the rest of their research group’s findings to create hyperfast, analytic model-based simulations of galaxy clusters to deter-mine their mass through an artificial intelligence neural network. That kind of information, Vesely says, along with research in dark matter and dark energy, will some-day play a role in developing as-yet-unrealized uses here on Earth.

“The base of physics is really just asking questions about what’s going on around us,” she says. “Once you find a discovery and know more about the world, you can have meaningful applications. The first step is experimenting and observing, using our eyes or, now in modern physics, computers, simulations, neural networks and AI.”

This fall, while continuing research for Fermilab, Vesely will tackle special types of problems in quantum mechanics and apply so-called deep neural networks and physics-informed neural networks as part of her senior project. She’ll review existing research to re-create results and hopes to help make the process more efficient.

Next spring, though, she’ll be a congressional intern. “We need better public policy that’s actually based on things that are pertinent in modern science,” Vesely says of her somewhat incongruent interests. “A lot of new public policy — in technology and energy, especially — has ties to physics and computer science. In the future, I hope to use what I explore in physics and engineering and computer science to make sure we have a very ethical way of living that’s more efficient.”

— Sarah Zobel

Editor's note: This profile first appeared in the fall 2022 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.