Washington and Lee’s Laura Bruce ’20 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship Each scholar is awarded $7,500 to support undergraduate research in their junior or senior year.
Laura Bruce ’20, a physics major at Washington and Lee University, has won a highly competitive Goldwater Scholarship, which promotes research careers in science, mathematics and engineering.
“There are so many experiences and people at W&L that have readied me for the Goldwater and pursuing a doctorate in science,” said Bruce. “I was deeply inspired and excited by Dr. David Sukow’s, Robert Lee Telford Professor of Physics and Engineering, modern physics class my sophomore year, where we learned about the quantization in the atom and the Schrodinger equation that declaring physics as my major was easy. I also had the opportunity to partake in Particle Physics at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) sophomore year with classmates and Irina Mazilu, professor of physics, and Dan Mazilu, associate professor of physics, which was an incredible experience. At W&L, I’ve learned to feel comfortable geeking out over physics and being myself.”
Bruce, a Johnson Scholar, used her scholarship to fund past summer experiences. She previously joined Jon Erickson, associate professor of physics and engineering, in his lab, where students tested electrocolonography as the first non-invasive technique to analyze colon motor activity.
“That summer experience was almost magical for me,” said Bruce. “I loved working with my lab mates, and it was the first time I really felt that I could do this and lead in scientific research. I am forever grateful to Dr. Erickson, my classmates and the W&L physics and engineering department.”
Outside of class, Bruce is active in the English department and is a Division III competitive swimmer and says W&L has taught her to be “systematic, cooperative and open-minded.”
“I find that a lot of my ideas come when I’m not actually doing science, but when I am reading literature and poetry or swimming,” she said. “I firmly believe these other activities have strengthened my potential as a scientific researcher.”
When she graduates from Washington and Lee, Bruce plans to pursue her doctorate degree in experimental/applied physics. This summer, she is interning at CERN in Switzerland.
The Goldwater scholarship was established by Congress in 1986 to commemorate Sen. Barry Goldwater. Each scholar is awarded $7,500 to support undergraduate research in their junior or senior year.