As a middle school student, Olivia Magneson ’23 participated in a Women in Engineering after-school program that led her to discover the relationship between science and medicine. It’s a path she pursued all the way from Iowa to Annville, where she is majoring in physics at Lebanon Valley College with the goal of attending graduate school for a medical physics program.
“My professors have supported my academic goals and everything I have been involved in since I stepped on campus,” said Magneson. “They are completely invested in my learning, which you cannot find everywhere. The Physics Department is a close-knit community that allows me to connect with my classmates and professors.”
Magneson relied on those LVC connections during her American Association of Physicists in Medicine Summer Fellowship in the summer of 2022. One of just 16 students across North America selected for the program, Magneson researched at Harvard Medical School under Dr. Atchar Sudhyadhom, assistant professor of medical physics in radiation oncology, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass.
“My research focused on more accurately calculating electron density using a multi-modal approach to reduce range uncertainty in proton radiation,” said Magneson. “This project exposed me to the field and allowed me to learn in one of the most competitive environments. Additionally, I shadowed my mentor in various state-of-the-art radiation therapy treatments. I operated MRI and CT machines to collect data for my research. These opportunities cannot be replicated in a classroom but were integral to my learning.”
Magneson developed foundational research skills through a previous LVC summer research experience with Dr. Keith Veenhuizen, assistant professor of physics and director of cooperative engineering programs. The pair studied the properties of the Lead-Bismuth-Gallate Glass system and analyzed parameters to which phase-selective crystallization can be accomplished.
When she’s not in the physics lab, Magneson can be found on the ice as a goalie for the Flying Dutchmen women’s ice hockey squad. Her arrival at The Valley was the first time she played on a women’s team, and her teammates are her favorite part of being a student-athlete.
“Showing up my first year with my last name above my stall in the locker room was special,” said Magneson. “I get to show up to school and hockey every day, make memories with my teammates, and do what I love. Win or lose, I know that they will always have my back, which is something I will never take for granted.”
Magneson said her teammates are part of a critical support system that has helped her succeed and balance her course load and athletics commitments.
“Having professors willing and able to work around my crazy schedule makes it possible,” she said. “I have had professors meet with me on Zoom after practice to go over questions I have, and I have a coach who supports and encourages me. Additionally, I have teammates who want me to succeed and include me even when I am busy.”