September 23, 2021
Life At Witt

Lizzy Cefaratti ’22

Physics Major Finds New Passion and Career Path Through Summer Internship

Physics major Lizzy Cefaratti, Wittenberg class of 2022 from Lebanon, Ohio, spent her summer interning as a research assistant under Jenifer Locke, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at The Ohio State University, who graduated from Wittenberg in 2004. While working in the Fontana Corrosion Center in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Cefaratti discovered what she was most “passionate about” as she ponders her future career upon graduating from Wittenberg.

My summer internship

I'm currently interning as a research assistant under Jen Locke and her grad student Gabby Montiel at The Ohio State University Materials Science Lab. Coming from a small school like Wittenberg allows for a lot of one-on-one attention in the classroom, but less of a large research opportunity. Since being here, I've gained knowledge of what goes into research and gotten to see and use a lot of fun equipment. This internship has led me to something I wasn't even aware I was passionate about and has pushed me into the direction of materials science engineering for a possible future career.

I'm learning, researching, and understanding how aluminum alloys react under different parameters/stress at the lab. I plan to continue this internship through the school year and present any future findings for my senior seminar project before graduation. My favorite thing about this whole experience has been the number of things I've been able to learn and see, as well as my very fun and unique experience of getting to cast liquid metal.

My Future Plans

My experience at Wittenberg has been a wild one. Coming to college, I came in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to go to medical school and become a pediatric oncologist. I quickly realized after my first semester that that was not at all what I wanted. [Following that realization], I felt lost and confused at what I was going to study. After taking a physics course with Professor Jeremiah Williams in the physics department my sophomore year, it became clear. Although physics isn't easy, and it definitely doesn't come naturally, I still find myself fascinated with it and constantly wanting to learn more. Quickly after that course, I declared my major and have been loving it ever since. I feel more prepared than ever before, and although I don't know what all my plans are yet for after graduation, I do know that the tools I've learned at Wittenberg and the experiences I've been given will set me up greatly for whatever is ahead.

My hopes and plans for the future are to get a job down south after graduation while possibly going back to school to get a master's degree in aerospace or materials science engineering. Without Professor Elizabeth George and her constant faith in me, as well as this amazing internship opportunity, I'm not sure I would be as prepared or excited about what's ahead for me. This internship has pushed me into a possible field study I wasn't even aware of until this summer, and that's something that blows my mind every time I think about it. 

Post-graduation is quickly approaching, and the job hunt is on. But, since looking at possible jobs, I find myself loving the idea of doing research on metals for a large company like Boeing or something similar. All I know for sure right now is that I'm excited for my future, wherever it may go.

About the Research

Locke, Cefaratti’s internship mentor, was a physics major and mathematics minor at Wittenberg. As an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Fontana Corrosion Center at The Ohio State University, Locke was the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award. According to Locke’s research page on The Ohio State University website, she, along with her team, are researching how the environment causes cracking and failure to be accelerated in aluminum-based alloys. The award will drive research and education on why certain aluminum-based alloys are more resistant to the environment-induced degradation than others, which can inform more sustainable use of these and other metals and prevent failure.

Locke and her team perform environment-assisted cracking experiments on model alloys. During these experiments, the team uses an experimental technique developed in Locke’s lab under previous National Science Foundation (NSF) funding to monitor the crack tip pH and correlate it to the resistance of each alloy type.

The NSF CAREER funding will support a graduate student for five years, five years of Research Experience of Undergraduates (REU), and Research Experience for Teachers (RET). Another rewarding aspect to the award is that it allows Locke to give back to her undergraduate institution, Wittenberg University. Through the NSF funding, she is partnering with the Physics Department at Wittenberg, where Locke found her academic calling, and Professor Elizabeth George to sponsor a Wittenberg undergraduate student in her lab every year in the same capacity that Cefaratti did this summer.

Lizzy Cefaratti ’22
Hometown and state: Lebanon, Ohio
Major: Physics
Campus involvement: Peer mentor, 4Paws handler, and Greek life


Cindy Holbrook
Cindy Holbrook
Senior Communications Assistant

About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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