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Physics & Astronomy

Student Voices

  • Stephanie Finnvik '12, a member of the Carthage Microgravity Team, was the subject of a Student Voices profile.
    Stephanie Finnvik '12, a member of the Carthage Microgravity Team, was the subject of a Student Voices profile.
    Carthage College

Stephanie Finnvik ‘12


Brooklyn Park, Minn.


Physics, Pre-Engineering, Spanish

Favorite spot on campus

“B-2. It’s the physics lab, but like a home away from home. There’s always someone down there to hang out with or work on homework.”

Stephanie Finnvik was not always sure what she wanted to major in. With interests in Spanish, business and chemistry, she didn’t settle down into her physics major until the end of her sophomore year. “I have so many different interests, but going to Carthage, I knew that I would have the opportunity to try each before I decided what I really wanted to do,” Stephanie said.

At first, she didn’t even consider majoring in physics because it was a subject she hated in high school. “I decided to major in physics my second year at Carthage after taking a physics class with Prof. Crosby and learning about the Microgravity Team,” which has traveled to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to conduct research aboard the Weightless Wonder.

Stephanie is participating in Carthage’s dual-degree Engineering program. She will get her physics degree from Carthage and then spend two years at the University of Minnesota to get an Aerospace Engineering degree.

Between her physics and Spanish majors, Stephanie has the best of both worlds.

“One of the biggest strengths of the Physics Department is that you have the opportunity to get to know each of the professors personally. I can go up to any one of them and have a conversation or ask for help,” Stephanie said. As far as the Spanish Department, “There are tons of resources available and all the professors are more than willing to answer your questions. All the classes are small, too, so you have plenty of opportunity to practice your speaking skills, which is important for any language.”

Stephanie can’t get enough of the programs and opportunities Carthage has to offer. “I recently got to travel to Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona to observe and take images with the 0.9 meter telescope with Professor Arion,” Stephanie said. “It was really cool because we got to learn how the telescope runs and we were in complete control of its operation while there.”

Stephanie also had the opportunity to fly NASA’s zero-gravity plane and help Professor Zorn’s meteorology classes with a high altitude balloon launch. In summer 2010, she worked at the Milwaukee School of Engineering to design, fabricate, fly and recover a high altitude balloon payload to analyze mercury concentration that was in the air. “The balloon reached approximately 90,000 feet,” Stephanie said. “I hope to help other classes in the future and do many more launches soon.”

Stephanie’s activities don’t stop there. She is also involved in Women’s Lacrosse, Students in Free Enterprise, the Microgravity TeamSociety of Physics Students, Residence Life Council, Juggling Club, Alpha Chi Omega, and Habitat for Humanity.

In her immediate future, Stephanie would like to get her private pilot’s license. “In the long run, I would like to be doing research in space science, hopefully working for NASA at Johnson Space Center in Texas,” she said.

Career goal

“I hope to be working for NASA or do some sort of space science research.”

Favorite professor

Professor Crosby. He has always been supportive of all the crazy ideas myself and the other physics students come up with, and he always encourages us to do our best.”

Favorite class

“My favorite Spanish class so far was the Spanish Speaking World: Culture and Intellectual Life. The professor, Maribel Morales, is from Spain so we were able to focus on Spain. My favorite physics class is Optics with Professor Arion. It can be difficult at times, but we get to do a lot of cool demonstrations — some that students build themselves.”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was Intro to International Relations with Prof. Roberg. It was a little bit out of my element, but the worst when when we had to prepare for a debate on a give topic. He wouldn’t tell us if we were for or against it until it was our turn to present our side. I was debating against the class, and after about 10 minutes into my speech, I realized that I had been debating for the wrong side. After Prof. Roberg informed me that I was, I quickly tried to cover over my comments and ended up suffering the rest of the semester with that embarrassing event as a freshman.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“Meeting people and hanging out with the friends that I’ve made. Flying on the Weightless Wonder plane is by far my favorite experience. There’s nothing like the feeling of zero and reduced gravity.”

Biggest surprise so far?

“How may times I can change my mind! I never would have thought I would be doing what I am right now when I was just starting college.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“Math, math, math. I suggest that you get as much math practice as you can, because it will be helpful.” 


Kasey Dallman ‘14
  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2018), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • Scheduled to open in fall 2018, a new residential tower will offer suite-style housing and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about The Tower

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wins, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • 96% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. 95% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Computer science students watch Prof. Mark Mahoney’s recorded lecturers in their free time, so he can nearby “when they do their real learning,” he says. He has company: Physics professor Brant Carlson’s quantum mechanics video playlist has been viewed more than 170,000 times. 

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • As a freshman in the highly selective Honors Program, learn how to gain expertise in anything from music to forest ecology. After that, tackle a contemporary social, economic, or political problem. If you like, you can live on an Honors-only floor of a Carthage residence hall. 

    • In 2016, 2017 and 2018, Carthage was named a top producer of Fulbright Scholars by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our athletic and recreation center, student union, computer labs, audiovisual production suite, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 10 years. Our new science center caps it off.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to athletic training, neuroscience to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of our students receive financial aid, a hefty chunk of which is scholarships and grants — including $1.25 million annually from the Presidential Scholarship Competition and numerous Merit Scholarships. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” says biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 30 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from 75% tuition up to full tuition, room, and board. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 120 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Chemistry Club, to Frisbee and Latin Belly Dancing. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • Imagine presenting your original research at an international conference — as an undergraduate. Carthage is dedicated to undergraduate research. Learn more about current opportunities.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …