Two St. Olaf students earn Rossing Physics Scholarships
Two St. Olaf College students have been named Rossing Physics Scholars for 2019–20.
Aaron Swanson ’20 will receive a $10,000 award and Kayla Gephart ’20 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.
Both students are majoring in physics and mathematics, and they have previously worked together on an independent study project with Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics Prabal Adhikari. In that project, they analyzed a theoretical system of heavy quarks in an attempt to find a numerical solution to baryon formation in two-dimensional large N quantum chromodynamics.
Gephart spent last summer as an undergraduate researcher at the University of Minnesota, where she worked with a team to design and implement a setup to measure microwave transmission through samples of crystalline silicon.
On campus she is involved in Women in Science, the St. Olaf-Carleton engineering team, and the Society of Physics Students. Gephart is a member of the physics honors society Sigma Pi Sigma and the mathematics honors society Pi Mu Epsilon. She is also involved with various musical groups on campus, including Collegium Musicum, the Runestones Accordion Club, and the St. Olaf Band. A talented clarinetist, she toured Australia and New Zealand with the St. Olaf Band in 2018.
After graduation, Gephart is looking to pursue an engineering career.
Swanson spent last summer continuing the independent study research that he and Gephart had previously worked on with Adhikari, contributing to theoretical evidence of baryon delocalization in four-dimensional large N QCD. This summer he will be participating in research on Casimir physics at the University of Oklahoma.
Swanson spent this Interim in Budapest, where he studied number theory and grew to know the language, history, culture, and people of Hungary.
On campus, he is in the St. Olaf Jazz Band and next year will be the president of the St. Olaf Society of Physics Students. Swanson is also a member of the physics honors society Sigma Pi Sigma.
After graduating from St. Olaf, he is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics and then pursue a career in research.
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.