On March 6th, Sofie Castro Holbæk was awarded this year’s Zonta København III travel grant for 15.000 kr. Congratulations, Sofie! 

Q: When did you start your physics studies, and how far are you now? 

I began my bachelor’s degree in September 2018, which means I am now in the second half of my second year of studies. 

Q: What made you decide to study physics? 

Several factors have probably contributed to my choice of study, but the key factors must be my own interest as well as having talented and inspiring teachers in the natural science classes throughout my primary school and high school years. 

Since I was little, I have always dreamed and made plans about what occupation I would like to have, and when I started in high school it was with the dream of studying something within the field of biotechnology. However, during my second year I realized that my true passion was for physics and mathematics. I read quite a few popular science physics books and biographies on physicists which I also found inspiring. 

Generally, I find it beautiful and interesting that we are able to describe both everyday phenomena and the most extraordinary phenomena almost unimaginable to our mind through the language of mathematics. I enjoy disappearing into the world of some great physics problem, and it feels very healthy to be driven by my interest and passion. Furthermore, I like to challenge myself by choosing the more demanding path in place of the easy way, since I find it more rewarding afterwards proving to myself that a difficult thing was possible to overcome. 

Physics can be a challenging study and you have to put in a lot of work hours, and to some this may sound like a negative thing, but to me this means I never get bored. My brain is always engaged, which I enjoy a lot. 

Q: What was your motivation for applying for Zonta’s travel grant, and what do you plan to do with the grant? 

I applied for the Zonta’s travel grant for support with regards to my coming exchange stay at the University of California in the US. I will be leaving in the Fall of 2020 and will spend a semester at one of the nine universities that are a part of UC. During the spring, I will receive my acceptance letter to one of the universities. 

Q: In your application for the grant, you have mentioned role models – why do you think role models are important? 

To me, role models have been important as they have given me motivation and inspiration to follow my interest within physics. They make up some ideals for me to strive for and at the same time, they are persons I can see myself in and relate to. Furthermore, some have also guided me, and to me they represent living examples of the fact that the occupation I dream of is possible although I was not born with a last name that sounds like Einstein. 

Q: You became a member of Kvinder i Fysik (KIF) already before you started studying physics – how did you hear about KIF and why did you become a member? 

I think the first time I heard of KIF was in relation to an annual meeting where the astrophysicist and former NBI-student Sarah Pearson was to speak. I was interested in hearing the talk of Sarah so I participated in the event and everyone was very nice and I met a lot of interesting physics students. I think it was in that connection I signed up to become a member of KIF. 

Q: As a student, what benefits do you feel you get from being a member of KIF? 

KIF provides me with a network of present and former physics students, and through the Women in Physics page on Instagram I have obtained a lot of knowledge about the many different work and research possibilities that come with a degree in physics. The many different physicists that do takeovers and share an insight into their everyday life have also served as an inspiration to me.