APS-IDEA Steering Committee

The APS-IDEA steering committee is currently composed of 11 members who serve as the “leadership” arm of the alliance, making structural and organizational decisions for the project.

Kayla Baker IDEA

Kayla Baker (she/her) is the Diversity Program manager at the American Physical Society where she helps to manage the activities and organization of APS-IDEA. Dr. Baker is a proud alumna of the largest public HBCU in the nation, North Carolina A&T State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has her Doctorate of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations, with her research focusing on campus climate, racial relations, the social construction of race, Black student experiences at historically white institutions, ethnic enclaves, and race-based digital campus spaces on social media platforms. Dr. Baker enjoys traveling, teaching dance classes, and serving the community as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Joined in Summer 2022

Erika Brown IDEA

Erika Brown (she/her) is the Diversity Program Lead at the American Physical Society. In her time at APS, Dr. Brown has led a portfolio of diversity-focused programs, including the APS IDEA, the APS Bridge Program, the National Mentoring Community, and the Inclusive Graduate Education Network. She currently serves as the Director of the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), and Senior Staff Liaison to the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP). Dr. Brown is a proud alumna of the all-women's HBCU, Spelman College, and received her PhD in Psychology from Brown University. She loves to garden and cook delicious food for her friends and family. Joined in Fall 2019

Dessie Clark IDEA

Dessie Clark (she/her) is the Associate Director for Program Assessment and Research Collaboration of University of Massachusetts, Amherst’s ADVANCE Program. She conducts evaluation research for programs and organizations dedicated to gender equity issues. She is an animal lover and currently has two dogs, one cat, and a rescue horse. Joined in Summer 2022

Amanda Koontz IDEA

Amanda Koontz (she/her) is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Florida (Orlando). Her research specializes in identities, authenticity, and social equity. Relatedly, her work adopts an intersectional approach to examine meanings of success, constructions of interpersonal and organizational values, and culture. She currently leads the NSF-funded ADVANCE Catalyst grant at UCF and collaborative research with Limbitless on building STEAM cultures. She additionally loves a healthy dose of time at the beach, yoga, softball, and reading (usually accompanied by a feline friend). Joined in Summer 2022

Marvin Jones, Jr.

Marvin Jones, Jr. (he/him) is a Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics at Indiana University Bloomington (IUB). His research focuses on analyzing cosmic ray neutron data for rare, exotic signatures using methods including wavelet analysis, Monte Carlo simulation, and other statistical techniques. He received a dual B.S. in Applied Mathematics and Professional Mathematics as well as an M.S. in Applied Mathematics from North Carolina A&T State University and is a proud of alumnus of this HBCU. He is actively engaged in STEM-equity work through the Diversity Committee and the APS-IDEA team in the IUB Physics Department. He has had an interest in mathematics and space since 4th grade and has pursued that journey since. One of the unique things he learned on his journey was that Katherine Johnson and Dorothy Vaughn once lived in his old neighborhood, which inspires him to continue sharing the stories of marginalized voices in STEM in an effort to decolonize how the story of science is told as well as create spaces for everyone to enjoy and learn science. Outside of his professional endeavors, he is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. where he frequently engages in service, advocacy, and community building. He enjoys cooking, reading, and making iTunes playlists. Joined in Spring 2023

Tiffany Lewis IDEA

Dr. Tiffany Lewis (she/her) is a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, working on theoretical models for blazar jets with a focus on particle acceleration and high-energy processes. Dr. Lewis has been involved in broad community outreach for astronomy as an observatory coordinator and AAS Astronomy Ambassador. She focuses engagement activities on community building and effective science communication. Dr. Lewis works with the Fermi Mission and Astrophysical Science Advisory Communication Teams at NASA Goddard to promote high-energy astrophysics through social and traditional media. Joined in Summer 2022

 Janaína Dutra Silvestre Mendes

Janaína Dutra Silvestre Mendes (she/her) is a Brazilian Medical Physicist, science communicator, PhD in Radioprotection and Dosimetry at the Radioprotection and Dosimetry Institute (IRD), Master in Radiology at the School of Medicine, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Bachelor in Physics with a major in Medical Physics from UFRJ with a sandwich degree in Physikalische Technik Medizinphysik from the Technische Fachhochschule - Berlin (currently Beuth Hochschule für Technik Berlin). She works as a medical physicist in the Nuclear Medicine section at the National Cancer Institute José Alencar Gomes da Silva (INCA) and as a preceptor in the multidisciplinary residency programs in Oncology and in Medical Physics residency programs. She is a member of the executive committee of Women in Nuclear Brazil, and of the commission on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion of the Brazilian Society of Physics. Dr. Mendes is also a volunteer researcher at the nonprofit organization Casinha - LGBT support and fostering space, is a mother of two beautiful boys, and loves to read and dance in her free time. Joined in Spring 2023

Monica Plisch

Monica Plisch (she/her) is the Director of Programs at the American Physical Society. Her department leads initiatives in education, diversity, careers and outreach to benefit the physics community and society. In addition, Dr. Plisch serves on the Executive Committee of the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM and co-authored the LGBT Climate in Physics report. She also enjoys spending time in the kitchen and is a big fan of Greek cuisine. Joined in Fall 2019

Ed Price

Edward Price (he/him) is a professor of physics and Director of the Center for Research and Engagement in STEM Education at California State University San Marcos. His research areas include faculty professional development and educational change, informal science education, and how tools and social structures can support learning. He leads the NSF-funded Next Gen PET Faculty Online Learning Community project, which includes fifty faculty from around the country working together to improve their physics courses for future elementary teachers. He is an avid mountain biker. Joined in Spring 2020

William Ratcliff II

William Ratcliff II (he/him) is a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. He is interested in multiferroics, quantum materials, topological materials, and applications of AI to neutron scattering. He is currently secretary of the APS topical group on Data Science. He is also a leader of the DC chapter of DataKind, a network of pro-bono data scientists. Joined in Fall 2020

Jasper Scelsi IDEA

Jasper Scelsi (he/him) is a physics graduate student at Towson University. His research includes studying the proper motion of “The Swirl” in the oxygen-rich supernova remnant Puppis A. He does a lot of grassroots advocacy to fight for the rights of marginalized communities, and was president of his university’s transgender club for three years. When he is not busy teaching to prepare himself for his eventual goal of being a professor, he likes to play video games and tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons. Joined in Summer 2022

This project is sponsored by the APS Innovation Fund, AIP Diversity Action Fund, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and private donations.