Apply for a student award

The Physics Department is very happy to offer a number of awards for undergraduate and graduate students in physics each year.  Many of these awards have been made possible through very generous donations by alumni and friends of the Department. The list of the physics department’s awards, their descriptions, and eligibility requirements can be found below. Department of Physics Awards generally range from $250 to $5,000 to deserving students to assist with educational expenses. A list of previous award winners may be found in our awards archive.

Application Process


  • Must be enrolled as a full-time student at UW-Madison in both semesters of the Academic Year
  • Must be a physics major (some awards also include astronomy majors)

Applicants will be judged by the Student Awards Committee. You don’t need to decide which to apply for; you will automatically be matched with all awards for which you are eligible campus-wide — not just in Physics!

The call for applications will be sent out in the middle of the spring semester, and the awards decisions will be made by the Awards Committee soon thereafter.  Awardees will be notified and asked to attend the Physics Awards Banquet to be held at the end of the spring semester.

To Apply

To apply for awards, students must use WiSH — Wisconsin Scholarship Hub – in their student center. A completed application will include:

  • Resume/CV
  • Statement of current research/teaching activity and future plans as a physics major (one page)
  • Letter of recommendation from a faculty or staff member (one page)
    • The online application system will automatically prompt the letter writer to submit letter
  • If indicated in the award description, a statement of need (one page)

For More information

Contact the Department of Physics:

Award Descriptions (not all awards are available each year)

Undergraduate Awards

Fay Ajzenberg-Selove Scholarship Fund
This fund supports undergraduate women majoring in or planning to major in astronomy or physics. The fund was established in May 1996 by Professor Ajzenberg-Selove. Professor Selove received her MS in 1949 and Ph.D. in 1952 in Physics, both from the University of Wisconsin.

Dr. Maritza Irene Stapanian Crabtree Undergraduate Scholarship
This fund was created in honor of the late Maritza Stapanian Crabtree, a former graduate of the UW–Madison (BS ’71) to offer other talented young people a chance to follow their dreams. Maritza worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the UW Space Physics Lab when attending UW and went on to be one of the first women admitted to the graduate program in planetary science at CIT. This scholarship is awarded based on merit and need.

Bernice Durand Undergraduate Research Scholarship
Established in 2003, this undergraduate research scholarship will be giving preference to women or to ethnic minorities in Physics and Astronomy who show research potential, motivation and interest in the discipline. This award will typically be given to 1 student per year after the completion of the three-semester introductory classical and modern physics sequence or equivalent and will enable the student to work with the research group of her or his choice. The intent is that the amount of the award shall be at least one third of the coming academic year’s resident full year tuition.

Henry & Eleanor Firminhac Physics Scholarship Fund
Former UW graduate, the late Ralph Firminhac (BS ’41, MS ’42), created this scholarship in memory of his parents, Henry & Eleanor Firminhac. This endowed fund has financial need as the primary consideration, followed by a genuine interest in physics and ability to obtain a degree.

Hagengruber Physics Scholarship Fund
The Hagengruber Fund was established by Roger Hagengruber (BS Physics ’66, PhD Physics ’72) in gratitude to the Department of Physics for providing opportunities to fund his education while in school and imparting the skills that led to a long, successful career in the field of physics.  This fund supports undergraduate Wisconsin residents with financial need, and who show exceptional promise for a future in physics or a related field.

Liebenberg Family Research Scholarship Fund in Physics
This scholarship will be awarded annually based on merit to a junior majoring in Physics with preference given to a student interested in Condensed Matter Physics. This scholarship may continue through his/her senior year with support for research and travel.

Ingersoll Prize for best coursework
Prizes to be awarded to students who have done the best work in the undergraduate courses. Nominations will be made by the Faculty and final selection will be made by the Student Awards Committee.

Albert A. Radtke Scholarship
For one or more scholarships to undergraduate junior or senior students in theoretical physics or electrical engineering.

Graduate Awards

Cornelius P. and Cynthia C. Browne Fellowship Fund
Cornelius received his BA in 1946 in Physics and Ph.D. in 1951 in Physics and Math from the University of Wisconsin. The fund supports graduate students pursuing degrees in the Department of Physics.

Joseph R. Dillinger Teaching Award
The purpose of the fund is to provide an annual award to an outstanding teaching assistant in the Department of Physics. This fund was established by the family of Professor Joseph R. Dillinger who was a physics professor at the University of Wisconsin. The recipient(s) shall be nominated by the TA Policy and Review Committee and final selection will be made by the Student Awards Committee.

Albert R. Erwin, Jr. – Casey M. Durandet Grad Student Fund
This fund supports graduate students working in experimental high energy physics. Preference will be given to women, applicants with financial need and/or students who may be disadvantaged, and to those showing strong desire and promise. A student whose undergraduate career may have started off slowly, but who demonstrated steady improvement, should be given extra consideration.

Henry & Eleanor Firminhac Physics Scholarship Fund
Former UW graduate, the late Ralph Firminhac (BS ’41, MS ’42), created this scholarship in memory of his parents, Henry & Eleanor Firminhac. This fund has financial need as the primary consideration, followed by a genuine interest in physics and ability to obtain a degree.

Phyllis Jane Fleming Graduate Student Support Fund
The donor and Dr. Fleming wish to provide support for a female doctoral candidate in any year of training in physics at the UW‐Madison. The purpose of the award is to provide support for such things as equipment purchases required in research, travel expenses to conferences or research sites, books and supplies, or other research related expenses.

Elizabeth S. Hirschfelder Endowment for Physics
The purpose of this fund to assist women graduate students in Physics at UW-Madison. The award has been given in the past for travel to professional conferences, assistance with childcare expenses or other expenses related to attaining an advanced degree. Elizabeth S. Hirschfelder received a Ph.D. in Math in 1930 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Karl Guthe Jansky & Alice Knapp Jansky Fellowship for Physics & Astronomy
The award alternates annually between an outstanding student in the Physics Department and an outstanding student in the Astronomy Department who is pursuing an advanced degree. Preference will be given to a student particularly interested in astrophysics/radio astronomy. Karl Guthe Jansky (1905-1950) received a BA in Physics in 1927 and an MA in Physics in 1936.  Alice Knapp Jansky (b. 1906 in Evansville, WI; d. 1999) received a BA in Sociology in 1929 from UW-Madison. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory also has a postdoctoral Jansky fellowship:

Charles E. Mendenhall Fellowship
This award is to be used for the support of a graduate student(s) in experimental physics who will be designated from time to time by the physics department committee.

Allan M. and Arline B. Paul Physics Fellowship
This award is for Graduate Scholarships in memory of Walter Max Borer, MS Physics, Class of 1937.

Carl and Brynn Anderson Graduate Student Support
This fund provides support for graduate student recruitment and retention, travel for study and research, materials for study or research; recognizing achievement in scholarship.

Robertson Leach Graduate Student Fund
The donor wishes to assist incoming first year graduate students in the Department of Physics.

Piore Award
This award is to fund research for current projects in the Physics Department. The fund was established September 30, 1983 with a gift from Emanuel and Nora Piore. Both Emanuel and Nora Piore received degrees from the UW. Emanuel received his BA in 1930 and Ph.D. in 1936, both in Physics. Nora received her BA (1933) and MA (1934) in Economics.

Van Vleck Fellowship
The fund benefits the Department of Physics for graduate student support.

Hallett H. and Mary F. Germond Graduate Fellowship
The fund provided by College of Letters and Science provides support for graduate students in the Department. Hallett Hunt Germond, received his Ph.D. in mathematical physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1927. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1949 for his work on a guided missile study and mathematical calculations used in solving bombing accuracy problems by the U.S. Strategic Air Forces in Europe during World War II. In addition to academic appointments at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Florida, Hallett was employed as a scientist by several corporations at various locations across the country. He worked for Burgess Laboratories in Madison, and later served as director of research for S.W. Marshall & Company in New York. He was one of the early employees of the newly formed RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California in 1948, serving as project supervisor and research scientist in the organization’s aircraft division. The majority of his career was spent in the military and aerospace industries, including as chief mathematician for the Directorate of Air Intelligence of the U.S. Navy and scientific positions with RCA Defense Electronics Products, AMRO Aerospace Corporation, and Pan American World Airways. In 1967, he and his second wife, Mary, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he worked under U.S. Army contract for Sandia Laboratories. He died there in 1978.