Orion Vllasi

Mathematical Physics 

My project, Validating GlaDS hydrology model setup in the ISSM implementation, is about modelling subglacial hydrology (water under glaciers).

Why did you choose to come to SFU?

My dad was working at SFU as a lecturer in Political Science and the university had a program in Mathematical Physics which sounded really fun. So the reasons are two-fold: I would get to save money and I’d get to take a lot of interesting classes.

How would you describe your research or program to a family member?

We basically run a program that does a ton of math that represents what happens in the water drainage system underneath glaciers. We’re interested in it because variations in water pressure change the friction between the ice and its bed, which means that ice can flow faster or slower, in part, due to what’s going on with the water beneath the glacier, which ultimately depends on surface melt and precipitation. 

What are you particularly enjoying about your studies/research at SFU?

I’ve really enjoyed all the professors I’ve had so far. I like to talk to them after class when I have questions that wouldn’t really fit during lecture and they have all been very enthusiastic about answering any questions I’ve had.

What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?

I’d say to make sure that you take good notes when you do your required readings because they really help down the line when you’re writing your paper and need to cite sources, or just for reference when you’re confused about a certain mechanism or something like that. I’d also say that it pays off to be very proactive in writing your paper - at the very least, write notes to yourself describing what you did that day so you can catch mistakes in experiments and so you have a day-by-day log of what’s been accomplished so that you can transform that into the methods section of a paper. Writing early means that you don’t have to stress about writing an entire paper in the final few weeks of your research term and getting stuck with writer’s block or a lack of motivation the week you have a section due.