Variety Defined Elizabeth Wig’s Northeastern Experience

Elizabeth Wig can’t tell you about a single memorable experience that she’s had at Northeastern—but she can tell you about the variety of experiences she has had.


“There are many [memorable experiences]! Leading an Alternative Spring Break to Utah to learn about public lands and the intersection of commercial, recreational, ecological, and cultural land use; going on a Dialogue to India to study climate change science and policy and to Italy to learn about engineering and literature; co-op’ing at NASA and working on supersonic aircraft and detecting water underground on Mars; doing undergraduate research and getting to publish a paper at a conference and delve into interesting topics,” she said recently.


Wig, COE’20, was recently named a recipient of a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship and the highly competitive National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship. She was previously awarded the very prestigious Goldwater Scholarship.


“The [Honors] experience I appreciate the most was probably getting funding to present my research at a conference thanks to the Honors Conference Travel Fund. I also liked living in IV [International Village] as part of Honors housing. I think it’s great that they’ve started funding [Dialogues of Civilizations] as part of the Honors Program,” she said.


Dialogues of Civilizations were an important part of Wig’s Northeastern education, and she remembered her DOC to Italy, where she studied both engineering and literature, fondly.


“As part of the literature course, we went to the Bienale in Venice – an enormous art exhibition – and I think that was one of the most impactful parts of the course for me, seeing the wide range of disciplines that went in to making art,” she said.


An interdisciplinary approach is essential to her area of research, which is electromagnetics.


“My research at Northeastern has focused on characterizing objects on the human body detected by airport security scanners. The broader impacts of this research are to make airport security safer, more efficient, and less invasive to passenger privacy. I think the math is really interesting!” she said.


Wig will continue her research this fall at Stanford University, starting work on a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with support from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship and the NDSEG Fellowship. “I’m excited to delve into new research and learn new things,” she said.


For other Honors Huskies interested in competitive fellowships like the Goldwater and NSF, she has wise advice for students in all classes.


“If you’re a freshman, don’t be shy about reaching out to professors to look for research! Professors are busy people and sometimes it can take a few tries to match up with a research group, but it’s okay to email more than once or try to drop by their office to talk – the answer may be that they don’t have room for new students, but it never hurts to ask!” she said.


“For mid and upper level students: take advantage of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. Join the email list, go to workshops, apply for PEAK Experience Awards, and other external opportunities,” she added.