Woman Physicist of the Month - 2014
MarchLisa Whitehead, University of Houston
Lisa Whitehead is in her third year at the University of Houston after serving a postdoctoral appointment at Brookhaven National Laboratory. She is an experimentalist in neutrino physics and is a member of both MINOS and DAYA BAY. Dr. Whitehead is a very active member of the collaborations with responsibilities as a Co-Convenor for Cosmogenic Isotopes for DAYA BAY as well as being a Co-Convenor of the νe appearance analysis group for MINOS. She has organized and hosted major collaboration meetings and shouldered other service activities such as being on the Fermilab User's Executive Committee. Dr. Whitehead has also been active in advancing the situation for women STEM faculty at the University of Houston, and has a Department of Energy Career Award.
Whitehead is highly thought of by her students and has been a popular person on the seminar and colloquium circuit. She is seen as one of the budding young leaders in experimental neutrino physics, which in this day and age may be the refuge of US particle physics, given the abdication of priority to CERN for the frontiers of high energy physics in the hadron world.
FebruaryKaren Daniels, North Carolina State University
In eight years at North Carolina State University Dr. Karen Daniels has built an exciting, diverse research program in nonlinear physics. She has proven herself to be a creative, engaging, and dedicated teacher in both the classroom and the lab. She has been a mentor and advocate for graduate students, undergraduates and middle school students.
Her research covers a broad spectrum of applications, from the propagation of cracks in Jello to the transmission of forces in seismic faults. The topic provides exciting opportunities for students to design, build, and execute table-top physics experiments with real-world applications. Her lab encompasses a wide set of hands-on and computer techniques and a diverse group of students, including 23 undergraduates in the last eight years. Most of her publications since coming to NC State have a student as first-author. A paper with graduate student Eli Owens was named one of the “Best of 2011” articles published in EPL. She has developed collaborations around the world, leading to a von Humboldt Fellowship in 2011 to study in Germany. In the past year she has given invited talks at, among others, the Lorentz Center in The Netherlands, Harvard University and École Normale Supérieure.
In addition to teaching core undergraduate and graduate physics courses (with excellent reviews), Daniels created and taught an Honors seminar, designed a new graduate course in statistical mechanics, and taught a Scale-Up engineering physics class. On campus and off, she is a vocal supporter of women in science. A former precollege science teacher, Daniels has organized and presented at Expanding Your Horizons Conferences for middle school girls. She has served on the NCSU task force on Women Faculty, she co-organized the first two annual meetings of the Southeastern Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physics, she has been the keynote speaker for the annual NCSU Women in Science and Engineering banquet, and she has initiated a women-in-physics lunch in the department each semester.
JanuaryGabriela Gonzalez, Louisiana State University
Gabriela Gonzalez, Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University, is currently serving her second term as the Spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. In this position, she oversees the work of over 900 scientists from 86 institutions and 17 countries, representing the Collaboration professionally to the scientific community and to the public. In the years before being elected as LSC Spokesperson, Gonzalez led the LIGO working group on detector characterization (instrumentation) and the working group on seeking gravitational waves from compact binary coalescences (data analysis), and held countless scientific and administrative positions in the LSC. What isn't always as visible is the time and attention she invests in the people around her. Once you have come into her sphere of influence, she'll always have time for you and care for you as a whole person — both as a physicist and a unique individual.
Through her demonstrated excellence in experimental instrumentation, data analysis, student advising, and education and public outreach, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration has grown and is scientifically thriving. The list of Dr. Gonzalez's accomplishments would not be complete without a mention of her efforts to promote higher participation of women and underrepresented groups in the field. Under her leadership, the Collaboration has endorsed a statement to recognize the importance of diversity and pledge to work to increase the numbers of women and under-represented minorities in the Collaboration, appointed an LSC Ombudsperson office to serve the needs of the Collaboration, and created a working group charged to propose an action plan for improving diversity and further promote cultural and gender inclusiveness in the Collaboration.
Gonzalez is a fellow of the APS, the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation, and the Institute of Physics. She has been awarded the APS Edward A. Bouchet Award (2007) and Woman in Physics Lecturer by the Australian Institute of Physics (2001).