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OCC GRAD Hannah Tanquary's Future is in the Stars

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Hannah Tanquary

As a member of Eastern Illinois University’s Astrophysics research group, the Olney Central College graduate and her peers are working to create a better understanding of neutron stars. Some of the most extreme conditions in the universe are found in the vicinity of these stars, which are the result of supernova explosions of normal stars.

The project gives students valuable experience in the use of computer modeling and visualization.
“It’s really exciting,” said Tanquary, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics with an astronomy concentration. “We are working from a paper that was written several years ago and are in the process of writing revisions and correcting a few mathematical errors. We are also going through the computer code to get a more accurate view of how the neutron stars behave.”

It’s an experience Tanquary never expected when she enrolled at OCC after graduating from Mt. Carmel High School in 2006. 
“I started OCC as a music major,” she said. “My teacher was a friend of instructor Suzanne Downes and she introduced us. I began taking private lessons from Mrs. Downes and that led me to OCC. Of all the IECC schools, OCC had the strongest Music Department.”

During her first year at OCC, Tanquary took an Astronomy course with instructor Rob Mason and it became her favorite class.
“I really enjoyed the class and I began to realize that while I was happy in music, and I had always loved it, I might be happier doing something else. I experimented with other math classes and eventually changed my major to physics.”

Tanquary completed her associate’s degree in 2008 and then headed to EIU.
“It was a really smooth transition and a really streamlined process going from OCC to Eastern. All of my credits transferred, which was really great. I felt very prepared for my classes at Eastern, especially with my physics and math classes. I think I was better prepared than most of my classmates and I owe that to Mr. Mason.”

She added, “I really enjoyed my time at OCC. It was a really good atmosphere with high-quality instructors. You were able to go to them during office hours and get the help you needed.”

Tanquary is enjoying success at EIU. She is the recipient of the 2011 Jesusa Valdez Kindermann Scholarship and has been inducted into EIU’s Society of Physics Students. She also was featured in an article on the university’s website. 

Tanquary will complete her bachelor’s degree in 2013 and then plans to begin graduate school. Eventually, she hopes to earn a doctorate and work in the research area of astrophysics.

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