Lincoln native Abbey Bowers has always been fascinated by the world around her. As a young student, Bowers already knew her path: science.
“I was always interested in why the world does what it does and how things change,” Bowers said.
After graduating from Lincoln Southwest High School, Bowers enrolled at Southeast Community College as a STEM CONNECT Scholar, a grant funded by the National Science Foundation. Over two and a half years, Bowers worked on a research project called “The Wards Mineral Science Kit.”
“You receive 150 different minerals, and my job was to grind, polish, and study them in a microscope and create what’s called a spectral library,” she said.
After conducting research as SCC, Bowers transferred to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln to pursue her bachelor’s degree in physics. Through STEM CONNECT, Bowers has made connections, received opportunities, and gained a sense of community.
“I find community there because we’re given resources and tutoring that other places don’t offer,” Bowers said. “My mentors are really helpful, by getting me internship positions like I did this summer and helping me with imposter syndrome.”
Bowers considers STEM CONNECT her main community on campus. She has had the opportunity to get to know various science students from across different majors. Bowers is currently the only Scholar in the program with a physics major.
Her favorite math course at UNL has been Math 314: Linear Algebra, taught by graduate student Sara McKnight.
Interactive professors who are mesmerized by math and science provide fuel for Bowers to keep learning. For the days when she struggles to find motivation, her current professor’s passion for physics inspires her.
“I’m taking a class right now, electrodynamics, and my professor talks about physics like it’s a love story. It’s just amazing,” Bowers said.
Bowers currently works in a graduate research group in the FerroThinFilms laboratory where she works with hexagonal rare ferric oxide thin films with Xiaoshan Xu, Susan J. Rosowski Professor of physics: https://xiaoshanxu.unl.edu/welcome-xu-group.
Bowers decided she wanted to go into physics during her sophomore year of high school.
“I had a really good teacher who made us think outside the box. He pulled up a chair to us one day and told us to prove that the chair didn’t exist,” she said. “From then I’ve just been completely fascinated by physics.”
With graduation approaching in December 2024, Bowers knows she wants to go to graduate school.
“I’m not quite sure what I will do [as a career],” Bowers said. “All I know is I really enjoy working with big machines and doing research.”
– Maddy Wells | CSMCE, sophomore advertising and public relations major