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By: Dustin Ryder


What draws an individual into the world of physics? The world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope if you were to ask Grace Mattingly. A visit to the Green Bank Telescope reignited her passion for physics, and her original plan to study public health no longer felt like the right fit. Her IUPUI orientation was that weekend and Mattingly knew just what to do—change her major to what she was truly passionate about.

Raised in Cincinnati, Mattingly felt that staying near home for college was an extension of high school. While she did adore her all-girls catholic school, the surrounding colleges never really felt right. “I wasn’t a huge fan of the public school’s that weren’t too far away. Some of them were too big, some of them were too small—they just didn’t really fit me. So my mom was like, ‘hey, I went to IUPUI, you should check it out.’”

Encouraging curiosity

Since starting her journey at IUPUI, Mattingly has found opportunities around every corner. Getting involved in campus and talking to faculty led Mattingly to leadership experiences as an undergraduate researcher and peer mentor.

After talking to Andrew Gavrin, Ph.D., the department chair for physics, research became a large part of her undergraduate career. She is working in a lab with researcher Ricardo Decca, Ph.D., who is studying the Big G in hopes of more

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 accurately defining this number for gravitational constant. While Decca’s lab hasn’t built the device to measure the Big G yet, they’re in the process of figuring out just what it should look like.

To help with the research in Decca’s lab, Mattingly was sponsored by the physics department to travel to Austria where she worked closely with the publisher of a theoretical paper regarding a pendulum using a superconductor and a magnet.

“I was supposed to learn everything he had to say and bring it back and reproduce the research. Recreate it more practical with assumptions that were more realistic,” she said.

This wasn’t the only thing on her mind as final exams were the week after. Completing both her responsibilities, Mattingly found herself with an A+ on a lot of her exams and with plenty of information for Decca.

Last January the physics department also sponsored Mattingly to attend the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in Toledo, Ohio. She had the pleasure of meeting Sheila Bailey, Ph.D., a senior physicist at NASA Glenn Research Center. The experience inspired her to present a research poster next time she attends.

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Mattingly with Sheila Bailey, Ph.D. at the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics.

Teaching with passion

Mattingly also works at the Mathematics Assistance Center (MAC) teaching calculus I and said, “I would not be surprised if I ended up teaching calculus at some point in my life.” In addition to her physics major, Mattingly recently decided to become a double major and add applied math to her studies.