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From UCFV to top-ranked PhD graduate

Central Kitsap pitcher Howard McDonald fires a pitch in the first inning of the Jackets’ 14-2 win over Wenatchee in the opening round of the Washington State Babe Ruth tournament Thursday.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Central Kitsap pitcher Howard McDonald fires a pitch in the first inning of the Jackets’ 14-2 win over Wenatchee in the opening round of the Washington State Babe Ruth tournament Thursday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Ask Hugh Dalgleish what the stock market has in common with physics and he’ll tell you straight out.

“There are facets of the stock market that are fundamentally quantitive problems that should be analyzable and solvable,” he replies. “It’s complex and has really interesting parallels to physics and math.”

Indeed, as one of UCFV’s highest GPA earners in physics, Dalgleish seems to look at most things as “quantitive problems that should be analyzable.”

Take his impending move to London, England. Head-hunted to work in that country’s investment banking and equities trading business as a quantitive analyst, the move was just one more problem that needed solving.

Packing, shipping items across a continent and ocean, getting vital documents in order, finding a home: all challenges that he looks to with excitement.

Dalgleish, 30, is quick to admit that he loves a challenge. And he readily agrees that UCFV ignited that passion when he first began his associate of science degree in 1994.

“I was never exactly sure where my future would lead to and that’s why I liked the two-year option of the associate degree. It was nice at the beginning being able to break it into smaller steps,” he said.

“If it didn’t work out, and I’d only spent two years there that would be OK. But it did work out and as soon as I started applying myself I really got into studying and enjoyed it.”

A bit humble, his phrase “applying himself,” actually means earning some smoking hot grades.

He started his associate degree at UCFV in 1994 and went on to earn his bachelor of science with a double minor in physics and math in 1999.

During those years, while he handled a heavy course load, he made the dean’s honour list twice, handily won numerous outstanding achievement awards in the math and science faculties, was awarded three separate scholarships, and graduated with a final GPA of 3.66.

In two separate years, his GPA was higher than 4.26. Upon graduation, to top it all off, he was presented with the Dean’s Medal for Academic Excellence.

UCFV physics instructor George McGuire describes Dalgleish “as a bright young man,” and remembers seeing the passion for learning ignite in the young student.

“He grew all the time he was here,” McGuire said. “In his first year, he was an average student, maybe a B grade student. But he just got better and better the whole time he was here. You could see that he was extraordinarily bright.”

McGuire said that once Dalgleish started to apply himself, the fire was lit and there was no stopping him.

“He was a very good, very independent student. You could give him a problem and away he’d go and do it. And he would never let you down. He always got things done, on time and correctly.”

Since leaving UCFV in 1999, Dalgleish has gone on to earn his PhD in physics at SFU. He has turned heads there, too, obtaining the highest GPA of physics graduates in 2006 and winning both the masters and PhD level of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s awards, which totalled almost $100,000 in scholarships.

Despite his graduate school success, Dalgleish is quick to give credit to where it all started.

“UCFV gave me a very strong academic standing and prepared me well for graduate studies. Largely because of my UCFV background, I was a strong grad student,” he said.

“I consider UCFV’s physics and math departments to be very good and highly recommendable. I have nothing but warm feelings about my time at UCFV and I definitely appreciate the competence and enthusiasm of the people in the department.”

While packing up his home, Dalgleish’s only anxiety about the next few months is leaving behind his wife Melanie, who is slated to complete her teaching certificate in June.

Otherwise, with a renewable contract in one of the world’s most lucrative and cosmopolitan cities, everything is adding up for a bright and exciting future.

“In the equities trading business, the place to be is either London or New York,” Dalgleish said, admitting he’s happy to be finally done with studying.

“The stock market has been a bit of a personal interest and it’s an intense field and I’m really looking forward to working in it.”

UCFV’s science department offers a number of options for physics students, including an associate of science degree, a bachelor of science with a physics minor, a bachelor of science with a physics major, and a newly introduced physics honours degree.

For more information, visit www.ucfv.ca/physics.

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