Two Gusties Win Rossing Physics Scholarships

Katelyn Espe and Emma Erickson won the prestigious physics scholarships through the ELCA.
Posted on May 5th, 2022 by

by Harriet Anderson ’25

Gustavus Adolphus College students Katelyn Espe ‘23 and Emma Erickson ‘24 have been named Rossing Physics Scholars for 2021-2022 for their exemplary standing as students in physics.

Espe and Erickson will each receive one of the $5,000 scholarships awarded by the Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Foundation. 

Katelyn Espe

Funded by Dr. Thomas Rossing, the program awards annual scholarships to students enrolled at one of the 26 colleges and universities affiliated with the ELCA who are pursuing an education in physics. Applicants are nominated by their institution’s professors and selected by the foundation based on the student’s academic and research standing.

In the past 10 years, 15 Gustavus students were awarded Rossing Scholarships in Physics, including nine women and six men.

Espe, a junior from White Bear Lake, Minn., has conducted research in physics at Gustavus for the past two summers. Her first summer, she worked with Dr. Tom Huber to improve refracto-vibrometry acoustic field visualization by training an AI to recognize and remove background noise from ultrasound pulses traveling through water.

“With better resolution of the ultrasound pulses, they could be used to detect whether or not a patient has bone cancer or osteoporosis by sending sound through their heel bone, rather than needing invasive tests,” Espe said. 

Her second summer, she worked with Dr. Elizabeth Boatman to design and construct a CNC router. 

“This is a machine that is similar to a 3D printer, and once it is completed, it will be available for use in the Olin Hall Machine Shop,” she said. This summer, she plans on working at CERN in Switzerland through the Duke TUNL Research Experience For Undergraduates Program.

Outside of the classroom, Espe is involved in Gustie Greeters, Gustavus Campus Band, and plays in the Handbell Choir. She is also the president of STEMinist, which is committed to encouraging and empowering young women in STEM. After graduating, Espe plans to work towards receiving a PhD in particle physics.

Emma Erickson

Espe encourages other physics students to “remember that if you’re not frustrated, you’re not learning. Keep your head up, stay on Jessie Petricka’s good side, and always remember to include units!”

A sophomore from Rochester, Minn., Erickson works for the physics department at Gustavus, and is involved in multiple physics-related programs on campus. These include Womxn in Physics and the Society of Physics Students, which both involve physics outreach and related community events. Erickson values cooperation with others within the physics community, saying: “There is no way to do everything yourself, and your classmates (and professors) are some of your best resources for understanding the things that you do not understand.”

Erickson is also involved in music on campus and is considering a minor in music. She plays the bassoon in two of the College’s top touring ensembles, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra and the Gustavus Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, they hold positions as secretary for the Womxn in Physics Club and serves as the class representative for the Society of Physics Students.

To learn more about physics at Gustavus, visit the department’s website.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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