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Three St. Olaf students named Rossing Physics Scholars

Three St. Olaf College students have been named Rossing Physics Scholars for 2023–24, an honor that recognizes exemplary students in physics at colleges and universities in the U.S. affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).  

Marianna Marquardt ’24 received a $10,000 scholarship from the Thomas D. Rossing Fund for Physics Education. Eskil Irgens ’25 and Sona Baghiyan ’25 each received a $5,000 scholarship.

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

All three St. Olaf recipients are majoring in physics. Irgens and Baghiyan are also majoring in mathematics, and Marquardt is also majoring in French and concentrating in engineering studies. 

Marianna Marquardt ’24 

Last summer Marquardt conducted research on soft matter physics and its applications to metamaterial design and materials science as part of a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) prorgram at Syracuse University. She presented her research at the university at an end-of-program poster session. At St. Olaf she is conducting geophysics research alongside Assistant Professor of Physics and Director of Engineering Studies Alden Adolph, studying the optical properties of snow and how they apply to the environment. This summer Marquardt is participating in the University of Michigan’s Optics in the City of Light program. As part of this program, she is at the University of Paris-Saclay in France, where she is researching how materials move on a molecular scale. 

Marquardt is on the executive board of the St. Olaf Society of Women in Physics. She also has worked as a teaching assistant for physics labs. After graduation, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in geophysics.

Sona Baghiyan ’25 

Last summer Baghiyan worked on research in quantum chromodynamics, with a focus on topological properties of hadronic matter, at St. Olaf alongside Assistant Professor of Physics Prabal Adhikari. She has continued this research with Adhikari throughout the academic year, focusing particularly on statistical mechanics. Baghiyan has also worked on a variety of other projects and simulations involving math and physics, including a study on Shor’s algorithm for prime factorization.

In addition to her research, Baghiyan has worked as a teaching assistant for physics labs at St. Olaf. This summer she will be working on a Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) project in algebra titled “Towards a Classification of Trialgebras,” alongside St. Olaf Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Erik Mainellis. She is also attending summer school in quantum computing at FermiLab before beginning her internship as a researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School.

Eskil Irgens ’25 

Irgens conducted friction research last fall alongside Professor of Physics and Department Chair Brian Borovsky, and he presented that work at a conference in May. He is continuing to research friction this summer as part of the college’s Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program.

Irgens is involved in a multitude of organizations on campus, including the Swing Club and the Running Club. He also plays the saxophone in the St. Olaf Band, and recently returned from the ensemble’s international tour to Japan. After graduating, he plans to pursue a graduate degree in either math or physics. 

About the Rossing Scholarship
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.