Physics Department News Archive

March 30, 2009

Bethany Jochim awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Sioux Falls, SD - Mrs. Peggy Goldwater Clay, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation, announced today that Bethany Jochim (shown right), a sophomore physics major at Augustana College, was one of 278 recepients of a Goldwater Scholarship for the 2009–2010 academic year.

The 2009 Goldwater scholars were selected based on academic merit from a field of 1,097 mathematics, science and engineering students nationwide. Jochim, a sophomore, is majoring in physics and is a member of the Augustana band. She is the daughter of Loretta and Michael Jochim of Pierre, S.D.

Jochim’s research work to date has involved studying how dissociating molecules rearrange their bonds to form new molecules. During the summer after her freshman year, she was able to come up with a theoretical model that provided a plausible explanation for some counter-intuitive experimental results. “It was a problem that we had been puzzling over for a couple years”, according to Augustana College faculty member Eric Wells, “Bethany’s work really allowed us to get a handle on why we saw the experimental outcome we did.” The members of the collaboration from Kansas State University also took notice. Professor Itzik Ben-Itzhak, director the J.R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State, noted that "Bethany impressed me as a quick learner from her first visit to the laboratory. Her main work on the elaborate molecular structure calculations was a task that would challenge many graduate students."

Jocim’s initial results have been published in a conference proceedings and a more complete article, for which Jochim is the lead author, is currently under review. Wells will also describe the results in an invited talk at the APS Division of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (DAMOP) meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia next month. “Because it is during finals week and Bethany can’t go, I’m swooping in and taking all the credit” Wells admits. This summer, Jochim plans to turn her attention to new experiments involving the selective cleavage and subsequent formation of molecular bonds, a more challenging problem.

One hundred sixty-three of the Scholars are men, 115 are women, and virtually all intend to obtain a Ph.D. as their degree objective. Thirty Scholars are mathematics majors, 190 are science and related majors, 51 are majoring in engineering, and 7 are computer science majors. Many of the Scholars have dual majors in a variety of mathematics, science, engineering, and computer disciplines.

The one and two year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

Bethany and fellow Augustana College winner Nick Bleeker are the 13th and 14th Goldwater Scholars from Augustana.

Back to Physics News Archive