Missouri State University Bears are better together.
Seniors Meredith Vogel and Yadira Gaibor of the department of physics, astronomy and materials science (PAMS) have come to know this well during their time at Missouri State.
Both will graduate from the university this spring.
They reflect on their shared experiences in the department and their diverging paths for the future.
Connecting with the sciences and one another as Bears
She met Gaibor when first transferring to the department and joining the Society of Physics Students (SPS). Gaibor was president of the organization at the time.
“From the moment we met, I knew she would become my friend,” Vogel said.
Gaibor felt the same about Vogel. Both credit SPS with helping them form a close bond with one another and others in their department.
Vogel later served as president of the organization herself.
“Student research involves a lot of individualized learning. But SPS provides a chance to share work with fellow undergrads through symposium events and board meetings,” Gaibor said. “It’s a great opportunity to really connect and support each other’s research growth.”
Reaching success through community support
Finding a sense of community can be key to reaching success as students.
The strong sense of community fostered by the department made transferring manageable, Vogel shares.
“I owe making the move as a transfer student successfully to the support I found in fellow students and professors,” she said.
While Gaibor’s love of astronomy led her straight into the program as a student, such support has pushed her to reach greater success, she explains.
“We all know each other, so there’s always someone there to offer advice when you need it,” Gaibor said. “Making connections along the way has made it possible to go farther in the field as a student than I ever thought possible.”
Gaibor and Vogel have gone far together, competing and placing at many of the same conferences.
The value of faculty guidance
Special value comes from connections with faculty.
“Dr. Morrison has given us experience and a perspective of the larger picture surrounding the sciences,” Vogel said. “Applying knowledge directly under her guidance has opened the door to all the field can offer.”
Gaibor identifies Dr. Michael Reed, professor of astronomy, as a fellow mentor. She has completed research under his guidance since her sophomore year.
“Having so much encouragement from faculty leaders is incredibly valuable” Vogel said, “especially as women in STEM.”
Different paths, same bond
Vogel and Gaibor’s time at a shared university will be ending.
But the bond they formed at MSU will remain strong.
“We will definitely keep in touch as we take this next step,” Vogel said. “We’ve already made plans to visit each other’s schools.”
Vogel plans to pursue the passion for computational physics, which involves coding, that she discovered at MSU.
She would also like to study gravitational waves. The focus would allow her to travel for work in the field and make connections worldwide.
Gaibor plans to continue her studies on exoplanets in the solar system and explosions among stars.
She would like for her future to include teaching and mentorship, passions she could fulfill in the classroom or research lab.
“The accessibility of opportunities in our department launches passion and experience in research,” Gaibor said. “I’m grateful for the leadership skills we will take with us as MSU graduates.”