Anna Soper ’22 Named 2023 Hertz Fellow

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Seattle born, classically trained violist and experimental physicist Anna Soper ’22 has been named a 2023 Hertz Fellow.

“When I found out that I had won the fellowship, I was completely shocked,” Soper said in a video produced by the Hertz Foundation. “I think I read the letter at least 10 times thinking that perhaps there was a mistake, and they had the wrong person.” They didn’t.

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation is dedicated to empowering the most promising innovators in science and technology, a perfect description of Soper. While at Harvey Mudd College, Soper served as president of the Women in Physics Club, a supportive community of female students interested in physics and in research opportunities within the department. Soper also received the Barry M. Goldwater scholarship, the most prestigious national award for undergraduate STEM researchers.

Soper shares the title of 2023 Hertz Fellow with 14 other outstanding doctoral students in mathematics, engineering and applied science. The fellowship will fund five years of graduate studies and provide the fellows the freedom to tackle significant challenges facing their profession.

Currently a first-year graduate student at Stanford University, Soper is working to design a platform using unconventional optical cavities. “My research is in the area of experimental, atomic, molecular and optical physics, a field which has recently made some great leaps in the control of single atoms and creation of high-fidelity quantum gates,” Soper says. “However, an outstanding issue is that the quantum information cannot be collected efficiently.” By using the funding and community of the Hertz Fellowship, Soper’s hope is to find a solution that will allow new regimes in quantum networking, active quantum error correction and quantum simulation.

Phillip Welkhoff, Hertz Fellow and Hertz board director, led the selection process of the 2023 Hertz Fellows. He said in a news release that fellows are welcomed “into a community that can accelerate impact for a lifetime. We are all excited to see the advances they develop over their careers that will drive progress across so many areas of endeavor, resulting in new scientific knowledge, new technologies and strengthened national security.”

Other Harvey Mudd alumni who have been named Hertz Fellows include Charlie Westbrook ’67, Sherman Chan ’76, Dana Hobson ’85, Joseph Thywissen ’94, Aaron Archer ’98, Kevin Watkins ’98, Thaddeus Ladd ’98, Joel Miller ’00, Nate Stern ’03, Kevin Esvelt ’04, Adam Pivonka ’05, Gregory Minton ’08 and Peter Scherpelz ’08. Soper says, “I think the part of the Hertz Fellowship that I am most excited for is being a part of the Hertz community and having the opportunity to learn and gain inspiration from all of the other amazing fellows.”