April 19, 2018
2018 UC Graduate Breaks Barriers in STEM, Adds National Science Foundation Research Fellowship to her Growing List of Accomplishments.
If you want to put a face with the term “outstanding student,” look no further than Madelyn Leembruggen. A senior here at the University of Cincinnati, Leembruggen has spent her four years studying astrophysics and math, traveling, and making a difference in her community.
Leembruggen’s impressive list of accolades includes scholarships, fellowships, medals, and awards. They include:
- Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence
- Eleanor Hicks award (A&S)
- C-Ring Women’s Leadership Award (Finalist)
- Learning Commons Peer Tutor Mentor
- University Honors Program Ambassador
- College of Arts & Sciences Ambassador
- Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation Scholar
- Cincinnatus Scholar
- 2017 Goldwater Scholar
- Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship
- NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
Leembruggen not only loves to learn here at UC but all around the globe. She studied abroad for a semester in Ireland her sophomore year, and a week in France through a University Honors Program study tour her junior year. She also travels to conferences to present her physics research.
Leembruggen acknowledges and and appreciates the people who have propelled her to where she is today. Her parents have been a great positive influence on her. “I think my parents are largely to thank for nurturing my raw, scientific curiosity.”
She also says the physics department and specifically one professor has really helped her along the way.
“Richard Gass has always challenged me to reach my full potential. From the beginning he has seen in me a great scientist who, until recently, I was unable to see in myself. Richard connected me with my current research advisor and mentor. They have both been excellent sources of professional advice as I applied for scholarships, internships, graduate school and fellowships. I owe so much of my success to my parents, LSAMP, and my mentors in the physics department."
Leembruggen is part of the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, which has been extremely beneficial to her success. “Being a woman of color in physics has been so much tougher and isolating than I had thought it would be. And in those moments of feeling isolated, I fall back on my LSAMP community.”
The Ohio LSAMP Alliance, helps increase underrepresented student success in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. The Ohio Alliance awards grants to students attending partner institutions in effort to increase the number of bachelor’s degrees completed in STEM fields.
"They have all spoken truth into my life when I have been tempted to believe what the world often has to say about women and people of color, and they have helped me pursue every opportunity necessary to become the best and most successful version of myself, adds Leembruggen.”
“She works extremely hard,” Notes Carol Mack, her LSAMP advisor.
In 2017 Leembruggen was named a Goldwater Scholar. The scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship given in natural sciences, engineering and mathematics. It is awarded annually to about 300 college sophomores and juniors nationwide.
Leembruggen’s impressive online portfolio states that her ultimate professional goal is to earn a PhD in Cosmology. “My dream job would be to teach at a university and write popular science books.”
This should be exciting to Gass and Simonson, who both hope she one day becomes a professor. Mack notes that after Leembruggen starts teaching, she can sSee Madelyn being a Nobel Peace Prize Winner.”
It’s evident that Madelyn Leembruggen is a bright, hard working, inspirational young woman in STEM. She has worked tirelessly to get to where she is, and even takes time to help other students. She works as a Peer Tutor Mentor in the Learning Commons.
Mack says, “If she’s not studying, she’s teaching other’s how to study and how to learn. She doesn’t have to take the time to teach others, but she believes in community and an ‘each one teach one’ mentality.”
When asked about her greatest achievement, her answer is very telling in what she values. She did not respond with an award, medal, or fellowship--but something she has learned along the way. “My proudest accomplishment has been transforming my thinking to a growth mindset. When I began my job as a peer tutor I was introduced to the concept of a growth mindset, which acknowledges our brains are capable of forming new connections and that learning is a mental exercise which actually makes us more intelligent the more we exercise. This transformed the way I teach and encourage my tutoring students, and also the way I speak to myself.”
Not only does Leembruggen improve the lives of her students and mentees, but also those of her advisors and mentors. Kenneth Simsonson, Campus Director of LSAMP at UC, is one of those advisors. “For me, having done this for 31 years, students like her are why we come to work. It’s very clear that our gratification comes through by seeing students like Madelyn.”
Clearly, Leembruggen has accomplished a world of achievements, but she is showing no signs of slowing down. She has accepted a graduate school offer from Harvard University. She notes that it was a really hard decision, as she narrowed down her choices to Berkeley, MIT, and Harvard and still had to just pick one. “I can’t explain exactly why I knew Harvard will be right for me, but it felt like home, and I am so excited to begin graduate school in the fall!”
She has accepted fellowships from the Ford Foundation and the NSF Graduate Research Program to support this next step in her education and professional career.
Gass says that she won’t have a problem finding a job, ever. “First semester of her junior year she presented at a poster competition. Someone mistook her for a junior faculty member. Another one of the judges gave her his card, and said ‘Call me when you’re looking for a post-doctoral position’”.
To explore more of Leembruggen’s achievements, experiences, and resume, visit her portofolio site at http://leembrmn.wixsite.com/honors-portfolio