Johanna Nagy receives Cottrell Scholar Award for research

Physics’ Johanna Nagy is among 19 outstanding teacher-scholars in chemistry, physics and astronomy to receive Research Corporation for Science Advancement’s 2024 Cottrell Scholar Awards

Nagy is being recognized for her proposal, “Measuring Cosmic Birefringence in the Presence of Galactic Foregrounds and Improving Career Preparation Through Advanced Physics Labs.” 

“This award emphasizes an integrated approach to research and teaching, which is a concept that I hope to exemplify as I build my faculty career,” Nagy said. “It will also allow me to pursue new projects that span both areas while also offering a unique opportunity to learn from other members of the Cottrell Scholars community.”

In this work, she’s researching how the polarization of the cosmic microwave background affects the composition and evolution of the universe. The polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) carries unique information about the composition and evolution of the universe. However, the signals from the early universe are overshadowed by light produced within our own galaxy. Measuring and disentangling these galactic foregrounds from the CMB will allow us to both learn about new fundamental physics and to better understand the complex processes shaping our galaxy.

Nagy highlighted how research such as this is important to the development of future physicists.

“Undergraduate students who major in physics ultimately pursue a broad range of long-term career paths, and due to their unique role within the core curriculum, the advanced undergraduate laboratory courses offer a valuable opportunity to develop relevant skills,” she said. “ By improving the advanced lab experiments, emphasizing data analysis and presentation skills, and creating a more equitable and inclusive experience, we can better prepare physics students for a variety of careers.” 

The Cottrell Scholar Award comes with a $120,000 award.