Having the opportunity to be a peer mentor, work in a lab and present physics research

“Through the classes I’ve taken, I have a much better sense of what I’m interested in and what I want to do with the future. The professors ... are really there to make sure that you understand all of this material.”

During her four years at Mount Holyoke, Abigail Tadlock learned the extremely valuable lesson of stepping outside her comfort zone — a lesson she would’ve loved to share with the 17-year-old high school senior version of herself.

“Don’t be afraid to try new things. I did it eventually in my first year, but I was really stressed,” she said.

Tadlock had an interest in the Seven Sisters colleges and took a tour of northeast schools. She was originally not intending to tour Mount Holyoke, but her dad had a friend who was an alum and convinced her to visit while they were in the area. After visiting, Mount Holyoke was her favorite, and she applied to the College via early decision.

While at Mount Holyoke, Tadlock has been able to expand her comfort zone by stepping into leadership roles. She is the president of Renegades, a tabletop gaming student organization. Taking the advice of her first-year advisor, Michelle Markley, Tadlock also became a Speaking, Arguing, & Writing peer mentor and is a teaching assistant for her physics courses.

“I really value mentoring and helping others learn and succeed,” she said.

She has also had the opportunity to show her presentation skills off campus while attending the American Physical Society March Meeting in Las Vegas with her research advisor Kerstin Nordstrom.

“The presentation is about my research. I use simulations to study what happens if you put sand in a box with a hole, and then the sand runs out of the box,” she said. “Then I use simulations to ask, ‘What happens in high gravity or low gravity? How does this change the mechanics of what’s happening?’”

Tadlock spent her first-year summer working in Nordstrom’s lab and completed internships with the University of Minnesota’s physics department and the University of Michigan–Dearborn’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has also used her time in Nordstrom’s lab to work on her thesis.

“I really like coding, and that’s a lot of what my research is about,” she said. “I like the idea of exploring something that we don’t know and testing out new methods.”

Tadlock credits her experience at Mount Holyoke for making her a well-rounded individual. “Through the classes I’ve taken, I have a much better sense of what I’m interested in and what I want to do with the future,” she said. “It’s an incredibly supportive environment — especially the professors. They are really there to make sure that you understand all of the material.”

Tadlock will attend Boston University next year to pursue a Ph.D. program in astronomy. She credits Nordstrom and astronomy advisor Darby Dyar with helping her complete her applications. She plans to research computational astrophysics.

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