Lawrence’s Willa Dworschack thrives as she pursues her passion for physics


Willa Dworschack came to Lawrence University with a deep desire to study physics.

She wanted to learn. She wanted to be challenged. She wanted to do meaningful research. And she wanted to share her knowledge with others.

The senior from Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin, is well on her way. In the spring, she was named a Goldwater Scholar, one of 496 undergraduates across the country honored for their studies in math and science fields.

The program honoring the late Senator Barry Goldwater was designed to encourage students to pursue careers in the fields of math, natural sciences, and engineering. The Goldwater Scholarship, the preeminent undergraduate award of its type in these fields, is administered by the Goldwater Foundation, a federally endowed agency established in 1986.

Willa, who has been doing research in atomic and molecular optics, said that honor, combined with being a Wisconsin Grant recipient, has her on a path that will eventually put her in position to teach at the university level.

“After graduating in June, I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics,” she said.

There was a time coming out of high school when such pursuits seemed unlikely, Willa said. It was financial aid, including the Wisconsin Grant, that helped her make her way to Appleton to become part of Lawrence’s Class of 2020.

“Before choosing my college, I knew that I wanted to attend an institution where I could get an education with both breadth and depth of knowledge in my chosen field,” she said. “I am receiving that at Lawrence, a terrific liberal arts and physics education, and the financial support from the Wisconsin Grant was a major factor in my ability to enroll here.”

The experience, she said, has been everything she hoped for and has put her in a position to follow her dreams.

“I have been able to pursue my passion for physics through rigorous coursework and research opportunities,” Willa said. “Lawrence and the Wisconsin Grant have given me the freedom to engage in a diverse set of extracurricular options and student organizations, where I’m developing lifelong skills that complement my interests.”

That path has taken her into some high-level physics research, with much more to come.

“Ultimately, I hope to become an impactful leader in AMO physics, conducting experiments that focus on the interface between this field and quantum physics,” Willa said. “I will use my strong foundation of knowledge in physics to contribute to meaningful research and to share my love of physics through teaching at the university level.”

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