Congratulations to Joshua McGonagle Althoff ’19 who has been awarded awarded the 2023 Louis Pelzer Memorial A...
Ph.D. candidate, The Ohio State University
Major in Physics, Minor in Earth Science
What led to your interest in earth sciences?
My first class that informed my interest in hydrology was environmental geology with Professor Adelsberger. Learning about floods and rivers was really interesting, and laid the groundwork for my choice in applying to NASA. Professor Adelsburger also encouraged me to apply to NASA’s 2018 Student Airborne Research Program (SARP) where I became acquainted with the science of remote sensing, which is the fundamental basis of my Ph.D. work. I spent time really delving into stuff I had never done before in my coursework and I loved it! Earth Science was so new and exciting, and throughout my senior year I tried to take classes that allowed me to follow this interest. By the time I was applying to graduate school, I was certain I wanted to go into the earth sciences.
Tell us about memorable professors or mentors and what you learned from them.
Professor [Nathalie] Haurberg in the physics department was someone I could always go to when I had a question about anything. I greatly appreciate all of the advice she had for graduate school. Professor [Mark] Shroyer was my undergraduate advisor for all four years at Knox, and long discussions in his office are among my favorite memories. He regularly implored myself and other physics students to push ourselves. He often asked “Why not?” when one was unsure if they were going to be able to succeed in a class.
How has your Knox experience made an impact on your life?
Knox taught me the joy of pursuing alternative routes that weren’t necessarily in my plan at first. My four years at Knox were full of exploring and taking classes that I didn't expect myself to take.
Why did you choose Knox?
I had known about Knox my whole life. My parents met at Knox, and we moved to Galesburg from southern Illinois around 2002. I regularly participated in Knox College For Kids when I was growing up, and that is where I met Professor Shroyer, my future advisor. I had always felt at home at Knox and even though I visited several other schools, Knox felt right.
At Knox, Jack was a part of Tau Kappa Epsilon and a founding member of Engineering Club.