Gustie of the Week: Katelyn Espe

Emma KelseyStaff Writer

Gustie of the Week Senior Katelyn Espe is known by those around her as a considerate, hard-working, intelligent individual who is a positive force for change, eager to make her mark on the world for the better.

A Physics and Philosophy double major, Espe is intent on making a positive difference in whatever way she can. “These subjects are important to me because I love asking deeper questions about the universe. I believe the more we know about the world, the better chance we have of making it better for the future,” Espe said.

Senior Anna Teurman, who originally met Espe in a physics class, shares what makes Espe stand out as a Gustie. “She is an incredibly hard worker and is one, if not the best, physics student I’ve ever met. Her determination and positive attitude set her apart,” Teurman said.

Beyond Espe’s academic abilities, she also holds a steadfast commitment to caring for the people around her, which she shows in many ways– from her interactions with her friends, to the organization she co-founded.

Last year, Espe and her roommates started the STEMinist ILS house, a way to provide women in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields with a community where they can feel empowered, on campus and in the greater Saint Peter area. “Seeing a need to bring together female students from majors in which there may not be a large number of similar individuals, we wanted to create a way to uplift and empower these students so that everyone can feel like there is a space for them in STEM,” Espe said.

“She has such a genuine and caring heart… She is intentional about inclusion, making sure that everyone knows that they are loved and belong,” said Senior Abbie Doran, another of Espe’s roommates. 

“Katelyn leads with grace and skill but consistently stands up for women in her field of study and supports her peers,” Director of Campus Activities Andrea Junso said.

Junso has worked with Espe for the past two years through the Gustie Greeters program. She describes Espe as someone who is “ridiculously intelligent, has endless positivity” and has a level of compassion for others that goes unmatched.

 “[She] embodies the core values [of Gustavus], and is an integral piece of the Gustavus community… She really is what helps make the Gustavus community feel like home for so many people, including myself.” Teurman said.

As a member of the Society of Physics Students, Campus Band, Handbell Choir, and Gustavus Women’s A Cappella, Espe has become integrated in many different areas here on campus, and has been able to explore many of her different passions here on campus.

“My favorite part about Gustavus is the culture that is fostered on campus of caring for others and for the world… Professors here are genuinely passionate about sharing their knowledge and the students here really try to be inclusive, treat others with respect, and advocate for positive social change. I find it empowering that we can not only see issues around us, but we are working to address them,” Espe said.

This year holds many ambitious projects for Espe. Last summer, she worked at CERN, a European organization for nuclear research in Geneva, Switzerland. As a part of a research program through Duke University, the work involved searching for a new fundamental particle. Espe continues to pursue this research.

Additionally, Espe hopes to finish a project she began the summer before last, when she began building a CNC router for the physics department’s machine shop.

After graduating, Espe plans on attending graduate school where she will work towards a PhD in Experimental Physics. Following this, her goal is to work in quantum computing research.

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