Brenna Mockler

Class of 2016

Hometown: Davis, California

What was your College Scholar project?
The focus of my College Scholar project was the social and ethical impact of physics research, more specifically research in astrophysics—I also completed a physics major. I am committed to conducting research that is socially responsible. In my time at Cornell I've taken courses in ethical theory and the ethics of engineering.   My senior project focused on the status of women in physics and astronomy, both broadly across the U.S. and the world, and more specifically at Cornell. 

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
I was on the varsity soccer team, which provided me with countless opportunities for personal growth. For one thing, playing a varsity sport and completing two majors (College Scholar and Physics) has pushed me to improve my discipline, and time management skills, which I'm sure will prove useful for the rest of my life. Soccer has also given me the opportunity to make life-long friendships with people in a wide variety of majors that I probably would not have met otherwise. I also served as the Communications Chair for the Society of Physics Students, and started a group for undergraduate women in Physics. This group provides an opportunity for undergraduate women in physics to develop a support system; it also hopes to recruit more women to the Physics major and encourage them to pursue a career in physics beyond graduation. 

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
The summer before my junior year, I interned at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Lab (SLAC). I worked on testing cameras for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a telescope that will provide us with an unprecedented amount of images over a huge section of the sky. This internship gave me the opportunity to learn more about the project and the types of physics the data will be used for, and it convinced me to focus on astrophysics research in graduate school.

What are you doing now, and what are your long-term plans?
I am starting a PhD in Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz in the fall and hope to become a professor.