Senior Profile: NU Churchill Scholar headed for University of Cambridge

Jillian Sandler

McCormick senior Samantha Strasser is geared up to make her mark on the scientific community.

After graduation, the applied mathematics and biomedical engineering double major will head to the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar. There, Strasser, who also received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, which encourages students to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, will earn a master’s degree in physics while continuing to research light, a feat she has also undertaken at Northwestern.

Strasser said at NU she has researched how to use light as an imaging tool. At Cambridge, she will be studying how to harness energy from light.

“For me, I’ve always been passionate about light … I’ve been using light in the photonics lab I’ve been working in,” she said. “Looking at another aspect of light, solar cells and alternative energy (fit) into my broader goals. I wanted to have a positive impact on humanity.”

Outside the lab, Strasser has remained involved with other areas of NU’s science departments. She has assisted Prof. Eberhard Zwergel with chemistry demonstrations and also serves as a tutor for the Society of Women Engineers. As a tutor, she assists incoming engineering students with programming and other aspects of the Engineering Analysis curriculum.

“Some people find (programming) really daunting, and for me it was great to help share what I learned with other students,” Strasser said. “I really enjoyed teaching and tutoring. It’s been great.”

Strasser said some of her favorite courses included those in physiology and mathematical modeling.

“(I enjoyed) working the analytical side of my brain and just the ways that we can analyze problems and break them down into models that can be solved by computers,” she said.

Strasser also said besides her science classes, she enjoyed having the chance to step out and enroll in Introduction to Painting.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said.

Even with her exciting future, Strasser said she hasn’t fully grasped that college is coming to an end.

“Just thinking about graduating and not being with so many of the friends that I’m able to walk next door and talk to … it hasn’t fully sunk in that we’ll all be moving apart in about a month or so,” she said.

She said she will greatly miss the multitude of people at NU that she had the pleasure to encounter.

“The diversity of people I’ve been able to meet and get to know, that’s been fantastic,” she said. “It’s a really great community that I’ve enjoyed being a part of.”

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