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USD Physics Student Earns Davis-Bahcall Scholarship at Sanford Lab

Sedonah Franzen portrait Sedonah Franzen, a freshman physics student at USD, was awarded a Davis-Bahcall Scholarship at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, South Dakota.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Sedonah Franzen, a freshman physics undergraduate student at the University of South Dakota, was awarded one of eight Davis-Bahcall Scholarships at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) in Lead, South Dakota.

Scholars in the program are South Dakota students entering their first or second year of college who are interested in science, technology, engineering and math fields and who have demonstrated leadership in their communities. Scholarship recipients attend a four-week summer program at the Sanford Lab, travel to two national laboratories in Chicago and to universities in Minnesota and Wisconsin and then fly to Italy to spend time at Gran Sasso National Laboratory. Due to precautions related the COVID-19 pandemic, students admitted to this summer’s program will be invited back to participate next year.

“I am looking forward to taking part in the program in summer 2021,” said Franzen, who is from Yankton and is completing her spring 2020 semester remotely from her hometown.

Franzen said she has always loved science but was especially intrigued by the study of physics, particularly astrophysics and nuclear physics.
“I’ve been interested in physics since my first physical science class,” she said. “I read that textbook cover to cover, and I’ve known since then that this is what I wanted to do.”

The Davis-Bahcall Scholarship, which is a joint effort between Sanford Lab and Black Hills State University, showed up on Franzen’s radar when she was a high school senior. When she found out she was too young to meet the age requirement of 18 years in her high school senior year, she filed away the opportunity for her college freshman year. “I had it in my back pocket,” she said.

Although Franzen will have to wait until summer 2021 to attend the program, she said she looks forward to the research opportunities offered and to seeing what day-to-day life is like for a scientist.

“I think that physics is a great career choice for me because I’ll be constantly learning about the subjects that interest me the most,” she said. 


USD's College of Arts & Sciences offers students a top-notch undergraduate liberal arts education in the humanities, social sciences and sciences as well as graduate programs that have earned USD distinction as a research university by the Carnegie Foundation. The college's more than 22,000 alumni include famous journalists, Hollywood screenwriters, novelists, a Nobel Prize winner, South Dakota governors, attorneys, physicians, justices of the state Supreme Court, distinguished university faculty and international humanitarians.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News