Liz Canon Soars as a Musical Talent and Volleyball Team Member at Rose

Monday, April 04, 2022
Liz Canon

Rose-Hulman junior physics major Liz Canon is a unique blend of musical, athletic and scientific talent.

Rose-Hulman is best known as a top-ranked engineering and STEM school. But many people are unaware the school also boasts an impressive performing arts program with students who are not only aspiring engineers and scientists, but also thespians and musicians. Liz Canon, a junior majoring in physics, is one of those students. 

Canon is a unique blend of musical, athletic and scientific talent. She has been passionate about music since elementary school. She currently plays French horn and is a trained classical operatic and aria singer. Canon performed many times on campus as part of Engineers in Concert, orchestra and concert band. She also runs the chamber choir at Rose and played the role of Rapunzel in the musical “Into the Woods” at Hatfield Hall. She is currently working on several spring concerts at Rose and is playing Tanya in the campus musical, “Mama Mia!”

Canon has also taken her artistic talent off campus. She played the role of Beth in the Community Theatre of Terre Haute’s production of “Little Women” and performed in the Brazil community band last summer. Canon enjoys the reprieve that music provides with a rigorous physics major, and appreciates how practice and rehearsal have become a way to maintain that balance.

“Having to practice gives me motivation and a reason to [take a break], which sometimes slips at Rose because you’re so busy with school and homework,” she says. “It’s nice to take the time to go to the White Chapel and get lost in the practice. I always feel so much better after rehearsals.”

While she loves performing, what really energizes Canon is the rehearsal process, which is similar to a scientific research approach.

“I love taking something that’s huge and breaking it down into chunks, making it perfect, putting it all back together, and then making adjustments … listening to everyone around you,” says Canon.

Music talent aside, Canon, who hails from Northern California, was recruited to play volleyball a Rose. She has been playing varsity volleyball for three years, has traveled with the team to games and tournaments, and loves the team camaraderie atmosphere. In addition to volleyball, Canon started throwing for the track and field team this quarter.

When it comes to the academic side of life at Rose, Canon loves the small class sizes as well as how she’s been able to get to know her professors and the opportunities that have come from that one-on-one interaction.

“The professors are very helpful, especially with research opportunities that are important for me should I go to graduate school,” says Canon. “I’ve had professors come to me and ask if I want to be involved in research projects. Just going to office hours and being involved in class, you get these opportunities.” 

During the spring of her sophomore year, Canon participated in a radio astronomy research project. The following summer, she worked with a physics professor on a photonics project in which she used a scanning electron microscope to create patterns that were 100 nanometers wide. She also had a research experience in which she wrote software and helped analyze data. This year, Canon is building a cavity for a laser so it can penetrate a sample multiple times to produce more and stronger data. That data will be used for magnetic nanoparticles research. 

This summer, Canon has an internship with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. She credits that opportunity to her physics professor who, because he was familiar with her research work, reached out to the JPL branch on Canon’s behalf.