Elizabeth Berrigan is one of Chapman’s shining stars. Starting this fall she’ll be aiming for a Ph.D. in theoretical physics at State University of New York at Stony Brook. She obtained her first degree from Chapman last May in biochemistry, and her second Chapman degree last December in physics. This semester, she is completing research at MIT and in January, she presented at Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics held in Stony Brook, New York.
One of Elizabeth’s specific interests in the field of physics is a “high-energy theory” and her presentation at the conference was titled “Evolution of Entanglement in Holographic Systems.” Elizabeth calculated an observable called “entanglement entropy” for a “strongly-coupled” many-body system. In her presentation, she explained that entanglement entropy has its uses in measuring “quantum correlations between subsystems, but is notoriously difficult to calculate using conventional methods.”
At the conference, Elizabeth and others visited the Brookhaven National Laboratory, seeing scientific wonders such as particle colliders. She was able to speak with string theorist Martin Rocek at SUNY Stony Brook, the school she will be attending this fall. All this was exhilarating for her, but what she said she’d never forget? “Walking in a group of 20 or so young women through halls upon halls of men dressed in khakis and striped shirts, with ball-point pens in their breast pockets, poking their heads from their offices out of curiosity and awe at the sight of this group. Felt revolutionary.”
Elizabeth is from New Hampshire, where she spent most of her time outdoors. Math has always been her favorite school subject, and it was during her time at Chapman that she developed interests in chemistry and physics, particularly in researching cellular electromagnetism. In addition to studying physics, she has also been a tutor and supplemental instructor for students in physics, statistics, and chemistry courses at Chapman. She is a member of the Association for Women in Physics, the American Physical Society, and the Society for Physics Students.