Vlad Sudilovsky ’08
Major: PhysicsCountry: Russia
Don’t let the name fool you. Vladimir Sergeivich Sudilovsky certainly sounds Russian, and in truth, Vlad was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, he and his mother moved to North Carolina when was only 3 years old, and he’s lived here ever since.
Vlad currently works at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany. As the name implies, that means the people there, including Vlad, study the world of space that is off our planet. Vlad says that many people get excited when they hear the word “astrophysics” because, he says, they immediately think that that branch of science is difficult, intriguing, impressive… even scary. He adds: “And so do I!”
Never one to avoid things just because they are scary, Vlad was eager to return to Germany and the Planck Institute. One the day we spoke, in his hometown of Charlotte, N.C., Vlad had graduated from Guilford College just a few weeks prior, and he had accepted a one-year appointment at the Institute where he had served as an intern while still at Guilford College.
“One of our professors at Guilford College had worked with Max Planck,” he says, “and Guilford sent me to intern there as part of its semester abroad program. I earned 16 credits that semester, and I really enjoyed the whole experience.”
In case your are a physics person who might actually understand some of what Vlad did during his study abroad semester, here are some details. He presented the results of research in GRB and quasar spectroscopy at an international GRB conference in Amsterdam; he served as first author of an Astrophysical Journal-published paper along with MPE and ESO scientists; and he explored the properties of Mgll and CIV absorption systems in FRB and quasar lines of sight.
If you’re not one who understands all of that, know that Vlad is a gifted young scientist who will make a contribution while in Germany, and who will then go on to graduate school. He is considering several programs, having visited those at Harvard, MIT, NYU and Columbia so far.
When it came time to choose an undergraduate school, Vlad considered the University of Toronto along with Guilford College. His mind was made up after he visited Guilford — he stayed the night and talked to as many people as possible throughout the visit. While he was on campus, he also went to a contra dance — a function sponsored by a dance club founded by a fellow physics major — then to a birthday part at the Pines House, one of the college’s alternative living options. Vlad says: “The visit was the perfect way to see that it was a great fit for me. I chose Guilford.”
An avid cyclist who spent quality time mountain biking through the forests around Asheville, N.C., when he was in high school, Vlad also began a cycling program at Guilford College to promote the use of bicycles on campus. “We even had a bike repair demonstration presented by the owner of a local cycle shop,” he says.
His other abiding passion while at Guilford was four years of playing Ultimate Frisbee. “Wow, what a different approach to team sports,” says Vlad. “The team was run using the Quaker decision-making process. So we were self-governing, as opposed to being a typical organized, coached, team.” He says it was a valuable learning experience: “I learned to listen — listen to other people voice their opinions and concerns. That’s something that will help me the rest of my life, and will even give me a professional advantage.”
He does have some cautionary words for those who might enter Guilford College as freshmen: “Opportunties abound at Guilford,” he says, “much more than they do at larger schools. But you have to take advantage of those opportunities to benefit from them. You can undergo major growth intellectually if you want to, but you have to do the work — it’s up to you.”