In Their Words

students working in a lab together


Nicholas Popiel Headshot

Nicholas Popiel,

Western Integrated Science with Physics



Why did you choose the "integrated" program structure? How do you think this has benefited your experiences and learning? Your future goals?

This program has absolutely benefited my learning as it forces you to not categorize your thoughts into the typical boxes of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and so forth. I know that one day I hope to develop my own theories and perform science experiments to test them out and this program is absolutely helping me achieve these goals.

Why did you choose Western? What excited you about coming here? About your program?

I chose Western because I knew it is a fantastic institution with a strong science department. The Physics department at Western is relatively small and close-knit, this really enriches the learning environment. Western also has a great community feel.

What can students expect coming to Western for an integrated science program, and physics in particular?

The second semester of first-year Integrated Science is intense. Even if it seems like a lot of work time management skills are highly developed. All of the professors are incredibly smart and accomplished people who are there for you at any time.

Do you feel mentored? If so, how does Western foster this?

I absolutely feel mentored by everyone in the Physics department. There is a weekly lecture/seminar by different professors in the department so that the younger students are able to interact with the older students and form relationships that extend to mentoring. With the integrated science program it is clear that in the future there will be a lot of mentoring, and since I am a member of the inaugural class I will have the chance to be one of the mentors.

What skills are you developing in your courses, engagements outside the classroom, community involvement?

In all of my physics and math courses, I am developing the skills to describe the world around me in terms of mathematical models. The power of these mathematical tools is huge; the ability to predict the future state of a system. The two biggest skills learned in the integrated science program is critical analysis/synthesis of scientific information from varying fields as well as scientific writing skills. Relative to the traditional science modules the integrated science program stresses heavily the importance of communicating and synthesizing scientific results.

Any other reflections you wish to share about your experience within and choice to come to Western?

My experience at Western so far has been incredible! I've made friends that I am sure will be life-long, memories I'll never forget, and have been blessed to be part of such a wonderful program that has taught me so much and given me so many opportunities.