Aedan Gardill

aedan in studio

Aedan Gardill ’18

Physics and Studio Art

Waunakee, Wisconsin

W. Mead and Elizabeth McKone Stillman Scholarship

J. Bruce Brackenridge Prize in Physics

Life After Lawrence: Starting a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison


I have always enjoyed making art and have talent there; I also loved science and wanted to learn and discover more about physics. Lawrence allowed me to do both and really encouraged me to be interdisciplinary. When I got to Lawrence, I didn’t know all of the implications of physics or my artwork, but after my time here, I have discovered my foundations. I have been able to look into myself and know what art I like making and what questions interest me most in physics. 


I found my niche in art: I paint and have been focusing on celebrating women in science. It started two years ago when I stumbled across information about a really great scientist named Mae Jemison. She was the first black woman to travel in space. She also dances and is a really big advocate for combining arts and science. That really resonated with me, so I made a two-layer painting with a canvas and a plastic sheet. The painting is her dancing on the bottom and the overlay is her astronaut suit. It showed the art and science together, like the opportunities I’ve had at Lawrence. I also felt like I was using my art for something—to have an impact. 


Working with faculty has also opened up so many directions to me. I got my first real taste of research during a funded summer research opportunity. I worked with visiting Professor Sara Chamberlin in the physics department. We studied the properties of materials—in this case, zinc oxides, which are everywhere—including paints! I loved the hands-on aspect of it, the combination of building things to test the materials and then doing the testing. That opportunity is why I’m now going on to do my Ph.D. in a materials science lab. 


The opportunities at Lawrence to bridge disciplines and have creative outlets helps me to be a better scientist. The support I’ve gotten has made my research possible, my time spent on my art possible, my Lawrence experience possible, and now my future career in physics possible.





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