Physics and Astronomy – Outstanding Senior 2020

Courtney CadenheadCourtney Cadenhead

McKinney, Texas


  • Bachelor of Science in Physics and Astronomy

Clubs, Organizations, Leadership, and Service

  • Q-Stem Club – member
  • Physics Club – member
  • Robo Sub Club – Treasurer

Internships and Employment

  • Crimson Service Desk Technical Assistant since August 2017: Diagnosed and repaired software related technological issues on a variety of devices and operating systems for WSU community

Undergraduate Research

  • Working with Professor Matthew Duez, conducted research analyzing the Poynting flux outflow of compact astrophysical objects; examined related scientific papers; designed and implemented a program that analyzes data  and completes relativistic calculations; and analyzed and interpreted data.

Education Abroad

  • Hong Kong: Spent a semester at City University of Hong Kong for a cultural exchange program, taking mostly STEM classes with local students.

Awards and Recognition

  • 2020 Outstanding Senior for the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Faculty Comments

“Courtney Lynn Cadenhead is an exceptional student in the department of Physics and Astronomy. Her academic performance has been consistently strong and she has done well in all the advanced undergraduate astrophysics classes, which require a high degree of physical intuition, mathematical problem solving skill, and numerical modeling ability. Courtney has been involved in original astrophysics research in the field of relativistic astrophysics focusing on electromagnetic energy extraction via Poynting flux in magnetospheres, and she has studied it in a variety of astrophysical systems. This work was the basis of her senior thesis and earned her co-authorship on a paper now under review for publication at Classical and Quantum Gravity. Her academic and research achievements made her a strong graduate studies applicant, and we are pleased that she has chosen to remain at WSU for her master’s degree.”  –Professor Matthew Duez


Personal Statement

I am very grateful to have received this award. There were many difficulties I had to overcome along this journey and I am infinitely grateful to the family, friends and amazing professors (especially Dr. Cerruti and Dr. Duez) who supported and mentored me through it all. They are truly the reason I have made it this far. Attending WSU has been a wonderful experience that has made me into the person I am today and I look forward to continuing on with the University for my master’s studies.

Honored Faculty and Mentors

  • Matt Duez, associate professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
  • Nicholas Cerruti, advisor and senior instructor, Department of Physics & Astronomy

Future Plans

Courtney will begin her graduate work in Physics & Astronomy this fall in the master’s program at WSU. Following that, she plans to enter a PhD program and hopes to one day use her research skills in industry.