Three St. Olaf students earn Rossing Physics Scholarships

Benjamin Wollant ’19, recently named a Rossing Physics Scholar, has participated in a number of research projects and presented his work at several conferences. This summer he will conduct medical physics research at the University of Chicago.

Three St. Olaf College students have been named Rossing Physics Scholars for 2018–19.

Benjamin Wollant ’19 and Gabriel McAndrews ’19 will each receive a $10,000 award and Brian Nevins ’19 will receive a $5,000 award from the Thomas D. Rossing Fund for Physics Education.

The awards are given each year to outstanding physics students selected from across the nation.

“The Physics Department is very proud of these three students,” says St. Olaf Associate Professor of Physics and Department Chair Jason Engbrecht. “We are happy to see them being recognized in this way for their excellent academic achievements.”

Wollant, who is majoring in physics and mathematics, has participated in a number of student-faculty research projects. He worked with St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Biology and Physics Jay Demas to research retinal neuron circuits; with St. Olaf Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Prabal Adhikari on numerical techniques for examining a two-color model for Quantum Chromodynamics; and with Montana State University Professor of Engineering David Dickensheets on a collaborative project examining micro-electromechanical (MEMS) mirrors. He has presented this work at several conferences, and is currently assisting St. Olaf Professor of Physics Amy Kolan on extending a project for her Classical Mechanics course.

Wollant is the co-principal flutist and associate student manager of the St. Olaf Band, and he serves as a teaching assistant at the St. Olaf Rock Climbing Wall. He received an American Association of Physicists in Medicine Summer Undergraduate Fellowship to conduct medical physics research at the University of Chicago this year. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in physics, and is strongly considering a career in the area of medical physics.

Gabriel McAndrews ’19 stands on the campus of the National University of Ireland-Galway, where he is studying for the semester. He plans to pursue a doctorate in condensed matter physics, with the goal of becoming a career researcher.

McAndrews, a physics and mathematics major, is spending the semester studying at the National University of Ireland-Galway. Last summer he worked with St. Olaf Associate Professor of Physics Brian Borovsky to research the frictional properties of low-dimensional MoS2 using an indenter probe and quartz crystal microbalance. He presented his work at the 2017 Midstates Consortium held at the University of Chicago. This summer he will research the magic angle of Twisted Bilayer Graphene with Assistant Professor of Physics Erik Henriksen at Washington University in St. Louis.

In addition to this work, he plays bass clarinet in the Norseman Band. McAndrews plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in condensed matter physics, with the goal of becoming a career researcher.

Brian Nevins ’19 is a physics and mathematics major with a German studies concentration. He plans to pursue a doctorate in computational physics.

Nevins is a physics and mathematics major, with a German studies concentration. He has worked on two research projects with St. Olaf Professor of Physics Amy Kolan: one last year studying the mechanics of autogyros (paper helicopters) from a statistical mechanics perspective, and a current project investigating and applying a new computer algorithm for solving highly constrained systems such as sudoku puzzles or packing problems.

Nevins is an active participant in the Thursday Night Bible Study at St. Olaf, and he is a member of Chapel Choir and the Board Game Club. He is also a member of Delta Phi Alpha, the German honor society. He plans to pursue a graduate degree in some form of computational physics.

Gifts from Thomas Rossing established the Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment through the Foundation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2005. The goals of the scholarship program are to encourage top students to attend one of the 27 ELCA colleges and universities in the country, and to consider pursuing physics once they are there. Rossing taught at St. Olaf for 14 years, is a professor emeritus of physics at Northern Illinois University, and is currently a visiting professor of music at Stanford University.

Watch Brian Nevins ’19 share what it’s like to be a physics major at St. Olaf: