Carrie Cox


Hometown: I was born in the Portland area but I've grown up in Bellevue, WA.

What is something you wish everyone knew about your major? I think physics gets a reputation for being difficult to understand and not applicable to what we understand as everyday life. But, this isn't true. Physics is the one subject that everyone, no matter who you are, experiences all the time. And, to be able to move through and function in our shared universe, we all have to be physicists at some level. So, at the introductory level physics is all about taking knowledge we've stored as instinct and turning those ideas into something we can articulate.

What was your most impactful class or professor? I would really give a shoutout to the whole Physics department, and in particular Dr. Lindberg, Dr. Gray, Dr. Goodhew, Dr. Seeley, and Dr. Robertson, for teaching me how to ask thoughtful questions, to keep asking questions and not accept surface-level answers, to embrace complexity, and to see my power and responsibility as an educator and scientist to draw those who may feel like outsiders into the field of physics. I would also highlight the first Honors Program class I took at SPU during which we read Coffeeland, which forever changed my perspective on the responsibility of physicists to think about and respond to how their discoveries will impact society in ways they might have never imagined.

What are you excited for in your future career? Next, I am excited to pursue my MA in physics at Stony Brook University and participate in their Ernest Courant Accelerator Traineeship in Accelerator Science and Engineering, where I will learn about how particle accelerators work through courses, hands-on training, and research at Brookhaven National Lab.

What advice do you have for incoming students? My advice is to take advantage of every opportunity here on campus, and to always apply for internships and research experiences even if you don't think you will get them. One of the best experiences I had during my undergraduate career was being a summer student at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. I spent my whole summer researching at the largest particle physics institution in the world and traveling with new friends around Europe. When I applied, I thought I had almost no chance of being accepted to the program, but I applied anyway and ended up having a life-changing experience that was also very helpful for my graduate school applications.

How have you grown during your time at SPU? I have grown immensely during my time at SPU, especially through my leadership roles. I have served as our student government treasurer, then student body president last year, have been part of Student Senate for all four years, and have also been part of Haven (SPU's student LGBTQIA+ club) leadership for the past two years. Through these roles, I have learned organizational, presentation, communication, and advocacy skills I would not have had the opportunity to practice at any other university, and especially not while majoring in physics and mechanical engineering.