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Physics & Astronomy

Student Voices

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Erin Gross ‘11

Hometown

Madison, Wis.

Major(s)

Physics, Pre-Engineering

Favorite spot on campus

“The physics lounge, B-2. No doubt.”

Erin Gross decided to study physics back in high school because she loved applying math to something that was right in front of her.

Now at Carthage, Erin is taking full advantage of the 3-2 Pre-Engineering Program Carthage offers. This program allows students to study physics at Carthage for three years and then study engineering at UW-Madison for the next two years.

Erin said Carthage’s small classes will help prepare her for UW-Madison at the end of this year. “I thought this would work best for me to get the attention in my lower-level classes to form a good framework for the engineering classes I’d be taking in Madison.”

Another strength of the Physics Department is the amount of support students receive from the faculty. “Each student is seen as an individual rather than a number,” Erin said. “This has tremendously helped in the senior thesis process when the faculty discussed whom they thought each student should be paired up with. They have gotten to know us very well in only three years.”

Erin also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Belize. “I went to Belize my sophomore year for a Carthage Symposium J-Term that was taught by an environmental science and biology professor,” she said. “It was amazing to see the environmental practices other countries have, and also the lack of them. It gave me a perspective I would not have had if I had not gone on this trip.”

In addition to traveling to Belize, Erin was in an REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at Biosphere 2 through the University of Arizona. She spent 10 weeks with other students doing research with Dr. Marcel Schapp on one-dimensional soil physics for a hill slope project that is being developed for the biosphere. “It was really great being able to be part of such a big project knowing that I had contributed in some way,” Erin said.

These experiences, as well as taking a few environmental courses, have helped show Erin that she would like to incorporate environmental awareness into how energy is captured and used. “I have always been a nature lover at heart while still loving physics and engineering,” she said.

Erin’s love of the environment has helped her become the president of CURE. “It’s great that Carthage faculty and students are starting a sustainability group that meets with all interested parties on campus to figure out new ways to greenify our campus,” she said. Erin is also a member of Society of Physics Students; is on the Carthage Microgravity Team, which allows her to develop a project with other students for NASA; and she is a member of Chapel Choir.

In the future, she looks forward to get her environmental engineering degree from UW-Madison. After that, she would love to design greener sources of energy.

Career goal

“To help design clean energy technologies world-wide.”

Favorite professor

“Although all of the faculty are amazing and helpful, I think Prof. Quashnock is my favorite professor. On top of his quirky attitude, he really cares for the well-being of the students in and out of the classroom and expects more out of us.”

Favorite class

“So far my favorite physics class has been Mechanics. It’s like grown-up physics that you learned in high school, and it makes a lot more sense. My favorite class outside of physics has been my environmental science classes, since they convinced me to be more aware and want to help out the environment any way I can. Because of that class, I became the president of CURE this year, and it’s been a blast!”

Toughest class

“My toughest class was probably my Intermediate Physics I class since it was my first college physics class and the solutions were not just handed to you on a silver platter. You really had to think about the problem in front of you.”

Favorite moments at Carthage

“I think some of my favorite moments are when all the students in my physics class get together and have late-night study parties. Developing study groups and friends in my classes has gotten me through a lot of tough subjects that I’ve encountered. It’s been extremely beneficial to not try to go it alone.”

Biggest surprise so far?

“How much I’ve developed as a person and a student. Before getting to college, I really doubted my capability, and now I think that with the help of my professors and friends, I can go on to graduate school and experiment for the rest of my life.”

Advice for other students considering your major

“Form a study group! Or at least go to the SI sessions. It’s really great to bounce ideas off of other people and it helps develop an ability to work with people for a job in the future. It’s great to know all the answers on your own, but in a job-site that might not be the best approach.”

Writer

Kasey Dallman ‘14
  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2017), 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

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    • 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.

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    • 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. 

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    • 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 and 2017, 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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. 11 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 …

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