Physics department honors three WIPAC graduate students

Every year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Physics Department offers a number of awards to their undergraduate and graduate students, many of which are made possible through generous donations by alumni and friends of the department. This year, 14 students were presented with awards at a virtual ceremony on Thursday, May 7—including three graduate students who are part of the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC).


Alex PizzutoAlex Pizzuto – Charles Elwood Mendenhall Fellowship


After joining the UW–Madison physics PhD program in 2017, Alex Pizzuto now works with Professor Justin Vandenbroucke on the search for astrophysical transients with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. Vandenbroucke says, “Alex is among the best graduate students I have worked with in my career, with exceptional accomplishments in research, service, mentoring, and classes.”


Pizzuto is the recipient of the Charles Elwood Mendenhall Fellowship, an award for graduate students working in experimental physics. It is made possible through the generosity of the estate of Charles Elwood Mendenhall, a faculty member in the UW Physics Department from 1901 until his passing in 1935. He was a vital force in the direction of the research work of graduate students, and his presence was instrumental in making the UW–Madison one of the leading centers for graduate work in physics.


Ibrahim SafaIbrahim Safa – Hallett H. and Mary F. Germond Graduate Fellowship


Graduate student Ibrahim Safa works with Professor Francis Halzen on the origins and properties of astrophysical neutrinos and possible connections with dark matter. Halzen says, “Ibrahim is extremely curious and fascinated with a broad range of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology problems.”


Safa was honored with the Hallett H. and Mary F. Germond Graduate Fellowship. It is made possible by support from the estate of Hallett Hunt Germond, who received his PhD in mathematical physics from the UW–Madison in 1927. He worked on solving bombing accuracy problems by the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe during World War II and spent the majority of his career in the military and aerospace, ending at Sandia National Labs.


Abby BishopAbby Bishop – Teaching Assistant Rookie of the Year


Abby Bishop is finishing her first year as a physics graduate student. This summer, she will start working with Professor Albrecht Karle on a study exploring the idea of placing radio antennae inside the IceCube-Gen2 array, a proposed future IceCube upgrade.


The Teaching Assistant Rookie of the Year award is determined by student evaluations, and Bishop attained perfect scores in “helpful and constructive attitude towards discussion section” as well as “assists the students in understanding lab work.” Bishop’s students praised her for being “super-enthusiastic even when class was dead and unwilling to learn.”