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Physicist and jazz pianist combines music and science at Rochester

2021 Commencement: Rochester graduate Philippe LeWalleAs a double major in physics and music, LeWalle says having work to do in both fields gave him academic balance at times. “If I got tired of one, I could always switch to the other.” (University of Rochester photo / J. Adam Fenster)

College alumnus Philippe Lewalle graduates with a PhD in physics but stays close to his piano.

As an undergraduate and later graduate student at the University of Rochester, Philippe Lewalle ’14, ’21 (PhD) has played piano at the College’s music and physics department commencement ceremonies.

This year will be different, though: he will also be the one graduating—with a PhD in physics—during spring commencement ceremonies, May 14 to 16 and 20 to 23.

2021 Commencement: Rochester toolkit selfie sign

Celebrate the Class of 2021!

Visit the Class of 2021 site for details about this year’s Commencement ceremonies and for a downloadable toolkit of materials to share your support on social media.

The child of parents who are both violinists and academics, Lewalle began playing piano at age 7 and was drawn to Rochester because the University offered the possibility to combine his love of music and interest in science, earning dual degrees in music and physics at the School of Arts Sciences.

“I came to Rochester in large part because it was feasible to double major in physics and music,” he says. “Even though I was working a lot of long days as an undergrad, it always felt refreshing having two very different types of homework on my platter. If I got tired of one, I could always switch to the other.”

The summer after his sophomore year,

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