Meet Dr. Laura Stumpe: Associate Professor of Physics

Please tell us about your education. I have a PhD in Physics from the University of Missouri-Columbia, 2003, and a BS in Physics from Florida State University, 1997. 

How long have you been at Westminster? This is my 10th year. 

What is one piece of advice for students taking your classes? Using physics to uncover something new in nature is like an explorer cutting a path through uncharted territory. In physics the way you learn to cut the path is by learning how to think. If you can think the right thoughts, you can get to the answer. My advice is to listen to a variety of other people as they explain how they successfully reason through problems, and then try it by yourself. 

What is your most rewarding professional experience? I am so thrilled to see my students succeed. One example is Professor Kristen Thurman. She was a physics major here in the Class of 2011. While she was at Westminster, she presented research at a major physics conference, at the April Meeting of the American Physical Society, in Anaheim, California. Not only had she done quality scientific research, but partly due to her liberal arts education, she presented her research in a clear, engaging, professional way. She won a first-place award, beating out Ivy League students! Kristen went on to get a graduate degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now teaches physics at Jefferson City High School and part time here at Westminster. 

What are your continued goals here? My goal is to make my classes fun and interesting while also teaching students some very difficult concepts and mathematical computations. One way I am trying to do so is by building projects into the classes. Some of these projects include building and testing rockets, building a mind-controlled robot, and studying nanoparticles using ferrofluids. 

Do you have a favorite quote? “If you are what you should be you will set the whole world ablaze,” by Catherine of Sienna 

How did you find your purpose? By seeking the truth and doing my best to live by it. 

What is one book you think everyone should read? The Art of Dying Well by St. Robert Bellarmine.  

What do you do in your free time? I have fun with my family. 

Can you tell a little bit about your family? My husband’s name is Brian, and we have eight children (two girls and six boys) and silver Lab named Daisy.

Favorite movie? The Sound of Music.

Favorite food? Chocolate cheesecake.

Favorite song? Either “Ave Maris Stella” or “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris, because it was sung in my wedding.

Most treasured possession? My big van, as it holds all of my treasures: my children. 

A talent you wished you had? I wish I could sing well. 


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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.