November 09, 2017

Cat Tomkiel ’16 is getting a glimpse into the dawn of the universe.

While pursuing a doctorate in physics at Lehigh University, Tomkiel is part of the STAR experiment at the Brookhaven National Lab collider.

“We are interested in looking at how the fundamental particles interact,” she says. “We are interested specifically in the quark-gluon plasma (QGP), which will help us better understand the first few seconds after the Big Bang.”

Tomkiel was a math and physics major with a computer science minor at Susquehanna-and she says all three programs gave her valuable skills that have helped in her studies at Lehigh.

“My professors were extremely helpful when I was trying to figure out what to do after graduation. Dr. Carl Faust and Dr. Samya Zain were probably among my top supporters and encouragers,” she says.

She is still considering all the career options that will be open to her upon completion of her Ph.D. program.

“I am currently leaning more toward research, which will be continuing my work in nuclear physics, more specifically, heavy ion collisions,” she says.