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Great Starts: Logan Hennes ’22
Portrait of student Logan Hennes

Great Starts: Logan Hennes ’22

From time to time, we like to showcase a new SNC grad who’s entered the workplace or grad school. Success stories like these are pretty common. In fact, 96 percent of our graduates are in jobs or grad school within a year of graduation — and most of them much sooner than that!

Degree program: Physics
Plans after graduation: Attend the University of Notre Dame and work toward a Ph.D. in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

Why did you choose St. Norbert College?

I was looking at different colleges and I knew I wanted to explore engineering, but I didn’t know what kind of engineering. The idea of choosing one thing that I wanted to do for the rest of my life seemed a little daunting, so I decided to pursue an education in the foundation of engineering, which would be physics, chemistry and mathematics. I heard about St. Norbert from some family friends who were impressed with the campus and said it was a great place to live.

I was very impressed with the science building, and especially with the level that the physics professors were at. It just seemed like something I wanted to be a part of. They have a very wide range of experience, and I thought I’d get a good idea for what I wanted to do eventually. And I also went to one of the prospective student events at Miller Park. In talking with some of the admissions staff, they mentioned a physics engineering track that highlighted different disciplines.

How has studying science at a small liberal arts college impacted your skill set?

The robust knowledge base a liberal arts education provides allows me to be able to better present my research to the world. It gave me the skills to hold conversations with people unfamiliar with my research and maybe the topic in general.

It’s a night-and-day difference between St. Norbert and large state schools. I had daily interactions with my professors, whether during open office hours or just talking in passing. It feels homey.

How have you been able to mold your education at SNC to suit your future goals?

Being at a small school has been helpful. My class schedule was difficult to manage with both physics and chemistry courses, but the physics professors have been able to rearrange classes to help me complete my program. I did two research projects in Dr. Brekke’s optics lab, and in the past year, I’ve done research guided by Dr. Olson and Dr. Leiterman in fluid dynamics and rotational mix-up. It is extremely rewarding to take the things I’ve learned in the classroom and apply them in a different way and at a different level. Through doing this research, I’ve expanded my knowledge more than is possible when learning from a textbook or lectures. For example, I’ve explored fluid dynamics through a year of research and been able to apply that knowledge elsewhere.

If there’s something I hear about, for example something I can 3D-print to make a process easier or use a new program that will make tracking a particle easier, I can do independent research and adapt it to what I’m doing in a class or research project.

Where do you hope your Ph.D. research takes you?

I chose Notre Dame because they’re doing research I’ve been fascinated with for years now: the future of battery technology and the future of carbon capture from the atmosphere. It is incredibly important research for the future of battery-powered vehicles and power grid storage. I’ve wanted to get on the front end of this for a while, and at St. Norbert, I’ve been able to learn the bedrock of the knowledge behind that research.

My dream is to work in a lab for Tesla, developing batteries that go into electric vehicles. But I really want to go into industry and bring those technologies into everyday devices, trying to modernize technology. The overall impact is a huge reason why I want to get into this field. It has instant applications, and not just research that may be used decades from now.