Left to right: Katrina Parkinson, Keri Pilling, Mitzi Boswell, and Stephanie Sydorko


Mitzi might be the most highly motivated physics student I've ever known! Her interest in fundamental physics was consistent and deep. As a result of her own ambitious initiative Mitzi obtained an internship at the Thomas Jefferson National Lab in Newport News, Va. She worked there for two years, both during the academic year and during the summers, and helped calibrate one of the magnetic detectors used to probe the inner structure of the proton.

Mitzi began her graduate studies towards a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in September, 2001 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was awarded a teaching assistantship. Her Masters research involved study of protons scattering off deuterons for the purposes of determining the scattering length of the reaction.

Update: October, 2008: Mitzi obtained a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in December, 2007 and is currently working as a post-doc at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Update: February, 2010: Mitzi is now working as a post-doc at Los Alamos.


Katrina is possibly the first student at Randolph-Macon Woman's College to double-major in chemistry and physics. She carried heavy course loads while serving as a resident assistant and pursuing her equestrian interests, all the while learning the skills of time management and compromise. Katrina also introduced me to my faithful demonstration assistant, Vito. Just the other day Vito took me aside and announced in his menacing gravelly voice, "One day I will ask you for a favor ..."

Katrina was awarded a teaching assistantship at the University of California at Davis. She began her graduate studies there towards a Ph.D. in chemistry in September, 2001. 


Like a canary in a coal mine, Keri's facial expression often served as the best warning that I'd made a mistake at the blackboard. Known for her equestrian excellence and fine Mustang convertible, Keri could be an excellent problem solver when she put her mind to it.

Keri is now the head riding coach at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. From the UMW Equestrian website:

"If her first two seasons are any indication, the Eagles may have found an excellent coach for many years to come. In two seasons, Pilling has led the Eagles to the regional championship, and has led five riders to the regional championships in each of her two seasons."

Update: June, 2006: Keri is considering grad school in physics or engineering at U. Va. or Georgetown. She has also left Mary Washington and started a new job at DTI Associates in Dahlgren, VA, a firm that delivers "engineering, program management, test & evaluation, and financial management solutions to the Chief of Naval Operations and to the Naval Sea Systems Command."

Update: December, 2009: Keri graduates from U. Va. with a masters degree in Engineering Systems. She is now an electrical engineer with the G-32 Gun Weapon Systems Branch of The Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.


Consistently producing near-perfect work, Stephanie has been one of the most talented physics students I've taught. It is rare to find a young woman who can solve a complicated differential equation and do plumbing as well! Stephanie has artistic talent and great computer skills. She presents excellent talks! Now if she can only get a car ...

Although she strongly considered careers as a spy or an explosives expert, Stephanie ultimately decided to pursue a Ph.D. in atmospheric science. She was awarded a research assistantship at Colorado State University, and began her graduate studies there in September, 2001. 

Update: August, 2001. Stephanie has achieved car ownership! Now nothing will stop her!

Update: August, 2004. Stephanie has switched her graduate studies to physics. She is now studying in the Physics Department at Colorado State University and has been awarded a teaching assistantship there.

Update: April, 2006. Physics grad school didn't work out. Stephanie is now working as a secretary for the city of Fort Collins.

Update: October, 2009: Stephanie is back to college part time working toward a B.S. in computer science while working in Alexandria, Va.