Georgia Nissen

Georgia Nissen

Recent Wartburg College graduate Georgia Nissen has been selected as one of two students to receive an R.J. McElroy Graduate Fellowship.

Nissen will receive up to $36,000 over three years as a fellowship recipient. This fall, she plans to pursue a doctorate in physics at Florida State University.

“I am so excited to be on to this new step and grateful for the support that the fellowship is giving me. I plan to use the fellowship to help cover the necessary expenses of living and also the transition from being an Iowa resident to a Florida resident. It will allow me to focus on other necessities, including my studies and working as a TA,” Nissen said.

The fellowships, established by the McElroy Trustees in 1983, are designed to “encourage a person of accomplishment, intelligence, integrity and leadership ability to pursue challenging academic careers.”

“Georgia’s desire for a scientific and teaching career in physics has strengthened throughout her years at Wartburg, and she is uniquely prepared for this career trajectory,” wrote Wartburg President Rebecca Ehretsman in her nomination letter. “Her intellectual enthusiasm and curiosity for this endlessly expansive field of study is supported by a powerful and intrinsic skill set — she is driven to high standards in all her endeavors, relishes both independent and collaborative work, and is a master of time management and organizational skills. Fortunately, she consistently balances these strengths with a kind, open and generous spirit.”

In addition to her studies, Nissen was an all-conference athlete on the women’s tennis team, a resident assistant, a physics lab assistant and the Society of Physics Student Club president. She received the Outstanding Senior Award in Mathematics for the 2023-24 academic year.

“Georgia’s summer 2023 undergraduate research experience at Purdue University was her first opportunity to work with equally engaged U.S. undergraduates outside of Wartburg as well as international researchers. Georgia was invigorated by the collaborative work and the global scope of interest and discovery in her discipline,” wrote Debora Johnson-Ross, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.

After earning her doctorate, Nissen would like to teach at a college like Wartburg where she can create connections with students like those she has with her mentors.

“I would like to give a huge thanks to Kathleen Sihler and Dr. Ben Bousquet. They both helped to prepare me so much for the interviews, critiqued my essays and helped to give me confidence during this journey. Also, the entire math, computer science and physics department in general, as every professor congratulated me and wanted to see me succeed. I truly wasn’t alone in this process and had a whole department behind me,” Nissen said.