Prestigious awards aren’t always a surprise for ACU students, but for senior Elizabeth Carlisle, her award from the Texas Section of the American Physical Society came as a total shock.
“I thought I was disqualified actually, so when I found out I won, it was a surprise,” said Carlisle, a physics major from Centennial, Colorado.
Carlisle entered TSAPS’s 2014 Fall Presentation competition with her presentation of an algorithm that could be used in the commissioning process of the James Webb Space Telescope.
Dr. Jessie Dowdy, professor of physics and assistant department chair, put into perspective how competitive this award was.
“If ACU had a sports team win a regional title, it would be very similar in distinction to this award,” he said. “Just like an athlete practices, Elizabeth spent months performing the research that formed the basis of her presentation.”
Carlisle beat out undergraduate students from universities such as University of Texas, Baylor University and Texas Christian University. The competition took place in College Station and was open to all undergraduate students from any university or college in the nation.
Many times, students have mentors or advisers from their department, but Carlisle mainly did this on her own, Dowdy said. She did however, have help from Dr. Scott Acton of Ball Aerospace where she did a summer internship.
This award brings additional attention to the Department of Engineering and Physics as they prepare to move into the recently renovated Bennett Gymnasium this month.
“The award demonstrates, once again, that the ACU Department of Engineering and Physics prepares students for establishing the baseline of excellence in physics and engineering,” Dowdy said. “The students and faculty continue to win regional and national awards from our department.”
The Fall Presentation winners received a $150 grand prize along with notoriety for themselves as well as their school.
Carlisle hopes this award brings more attention to the physics department.
“I hope this puts our physics department into the spotlight and allows people to see how good this department is.”
Carlisle said she plans to save the money and use some for rent.