Rebecca L. Gaddis, '12

Hometown: Oxford, MA
Degree: BS, Physics

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
The unique focus on project-based work and the research opportunities were only two of the many reasons I choose to pursue my education at WPI. The caliber of professors, quality of instruction, and available support were among others.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
WPI's philosophy of Theory and Practice has allowed me to gain experience in the field I hope to work in full time. Not only did this help me get accepted to a graduate program, but it also helped increase my confidence in my academic knowledge and chosen career path.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
WPI's greatest strength is its support network and faculty. Having attended other schools and transferred to WPI, I have found a unique quality to the faculty: they not only teach students but mentor them as well. Most go completely out of their way to give students the opportunities, knowledge, guidance, and support they need to be successful.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
It is difficult to pinpoint one single professor, since many in the Physics department have been so enthusiastic about their work and about helping the students. Several instructors have even created extra help sessions outside of class time and office hours.

Professor Nancy Burnham has been extremely supportive and instrumental in my acceptance in a graduate program; she helped me with my applications, guided me in revising the MQP paper, and gave invaluable advice along the way.

What are your research projects?
I am currently working on a project with Professors Nancy Burnham and Terri Camesano with an atomic force microscope (AFM) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Using the AFM, we are measuring the forces of the bacterial hairs called lipopolysaccharides in hopes of gaining knowledge and insight into how the bacteria adhere to surfaces and form biofilms.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
When I graduate with my BS, I will be returning to WPI as a graduate student in the Physics PhD program.

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Dean’s List: 2010-2012

Additional comments:
The resources at WPI for education and support are far superior to other colleges. I chose the school because of this for my undergrad as well as graduate studies. I was also drawn to the freedom WPI offers in its PhD program. Unlike other schools, I can create my PhD program so that I get exactly the experience I want instead of having to fit into a preset program.

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