Concordia Student Named 2022-23 Rossing Scholar

Third year in a row Concordia has had Rossing Scholars

Junior Mikala Hammer received a $5,000 Rossing Fund for Physics Education Endowment Scholarship. The award is given each year to outstanding physics students selected from across the nation.

“Mikala is an outstanding student,” said Dr. Luiz Manzoni, chair/professor of physics. “She has clear and ambitious career goals, namely, applying physics to address environmental problems.”

The scholarship program was created in 2005 by Thomas D. Rossing, a former professor at St. Olaf College, through the ELCA Foundation. It’s designed to be used for students’ tuition to help ease the burden of pursuing a degree and encourages students to study physics at ELCA schools.

“In addition to her strong academic record, Mikala has been regularly involved in research, with Dr. Thelma Berquó (associate professor of physics), and extra-curricular activities, such as the Plant Mars Challenge,” Manzoni said. “We are very happy that Mikala has been awarded the prestigious and well-deserved Rossing Scholarship, and that she is continuing our department's strong record of Rossing Physics Scholars.”

Berquó said that in addition to the summer research, she had Hammer in a couple of classes and they traveled to attend a conference and a field trip.

“Mikala is focused, independent, and creative. These are great skills for a person to succeed in our current world,” Berquó added. “This scholarship is well-deserved.”

Hammer applied for the Rossing Scholarship in early February after being nominated by the physics department.

“I conducted research on the iron oxides transformations in different environmental conditions with a fellow student, Colton Thomasson ’23, and mentor Dr. Thelma Berquó this past summer,” Hammer said.

“I believe my summer research experience in general had an impact on my receiving the scholarship, but I believe it also strengthened my intent for the future,” she added. “After my undergraduate degree, I would like to go to graduate school for environmental science or for physics with a focus on environmental phenomena. I think my research this past summer, and the Research Experiences for Undergraduate program (REU) I am planning on attending this summer at Penn State for climate science, show my initiative to branch into more interdisciplinary fields.”

Hammer took exploratory courses from the English and religion departments that had ties to environmental issues that made her realize what a passion she has for climate sciences.

“I have also been given so many unique opportunities here at Concordia that contributed to my getting this award,” said Hammer. “The physics professors have been amazing mentors and have opened doors for me that have made opportunities like this one a possibility, such as attending the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics with Thelma my freshman year and participating in an internship this semester under the guidance of Dr. James Lee.” 

“All of these opportunities have strengthened me as an individual and made the path ahead a lot clearer than it was when I started college,” she added. “I am extremely humbled and grateful to them to have been given this opportunity!” 

Learn more about Concordia's physics department.