(Posted May 4, 2022)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Three Juniata College students have been awarded scholarships by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the flagship national physics organization.

Juniata’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), which operates within the AIP, has been recognized with the Outstanding Chapter Award each year for the past 23 years.

“Juniata was the only college nationally to have three students recognized,” said James Borgardt, William W. Woolford Professor of Physics and chair of the Physics and Engineering Physics department. “This is a testament to the quality of our students as well as the mentorship and guidance they receive from our committed and talented faculty.”

Of the four Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — American Institute of Physics Scholarships (LLNL) given this year, two were awarded to Juniata students, Marta Celebic ’24 and Allison Helferty ’23.

The LLNL scholarship was created to encourage the study of physics and the pursuit of high scholarship. Preference is given to those who are traditionally under-represented in physics, including women, and exemplifies the national laboratory’s commitment to academic and social engagement while helping to build a diversified workforce for the global community.

“I love that I can look at the cream bloom in my coffee or at the rainbow oil on the pavement and understand, on some level, what is going on,” said Helferty. “It’s also cool to consider ancient civilizations studying the same world and sky and realize how far we’ve gotten.”

Celebic, from Belgrade, Serbia, is studying engineering physics with civil engineering, and Helferty, from Lafayette Hills, Pa., is studying physics and plans to work in biophysics or optics.

“After graduating from Juniata, I will go to Pennsylvania State University to obtain a diploma in civil engineering,” Celebic said. “After that, I am hoping to work on many construction projects around the world and one day have my own company.

Annika Stare ’23 was awarded a Society of Physics Students Leadership Scholarship, one of 10 given nationwide.

The Society of Physics Students Leadership Scholarship recognizes students who represent excellence in the undergraduate study of physics and are leaders within their SPS chapter.

Stare, from Harrisburg, Pa., is studying engineering physics with a secondary emphasis in mathematics. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in engineering following her graduation.

Celebic, Helferty, and Stare play a crucial role in Juniata’s Chapter of the Society of Physics Students and Women in Physics (WiP) and are role models for younger women interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) through their involvement in popular outreach events like Physics Phun Night.  

“It’s important for women to be represented in STEM fields as it improves the quality of the work in these fields because it ensures a diverse and talented workforce,” said Stare. “It’s equally important to mentor younger women because we can help advocate for them and guide them through the challenges of pursuing a career in a male-dominated field.”

The AIP awards approximately 20 national awards and scholarships annually. These award excellence in scholarship, SPS outreach, and participation, and are highly competitive. In addition to its awards program, AIP supports the profession with government fellowships and undergraduate scholarships, and teaching awards. AIP honors outstanding achievements in excellence in physics and raises public awareness of the contributions that physicists make to society.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.