2018 APS Bridge Program & National Mentoring Community Conference

Conference Speakers

Kirk Barrow

Kirk Barrow
Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology

About Kirk Barrows

Kirk Barrow received three degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology: a BS and MS in Aerospace Engineering, and a Ph.D. in Physics with a focus on computational astrophysics. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University, where he focuses on numerical simulations of early galaxy formation and supermassive black hole formation. At Georgia Tech, Kirk served as Mentor and organizer for the Graduate Association of Physicists, was nominated to the College of Sciences Graduate Student Diversity Council, and represented Georgia Tech at the National Society of Black Physicists Conference.


Brian Beckford
University of Michigan


About Brian Beckford

Brian Beckford earned his Bachelor's of Science and Master in Physics at Florida International University. Dr. Beckford later earned a Ph.D. in nuclear physics from Tohoku University in 2013. His research interests are strangeness nuclear physics, rare decays, physics beyond the standard model, and instrumentation.

Dr. Beckford served as the APS Bridge Program Project Manager in the Education and Diversity Department at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. He is presently an Assistant Professor/President's Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan. He works on the KOTO experiment, which is designed to measure the rare CP violating decay of a neutral long-lived kaon into a neutral pion and a neutrino anti-neutrino pair and provide a deeper understanding about why we live in a matter dominant universe.

Andreas Bill, CSULB

Andreas Bill
California State University,
Long Beach

About Andreas Bill

Andreas Bill is Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State University, Long Beach. As Director of the graduate program, he developed with his colleagues today’s largest exit Master’s granting program in the U.S. He is the Principal Investigator of one of six NSF American Physical Society Bridge Sites. His group performs externally funded research on low-dimensional quantum hybrid systems. He holds a Dr.rer.nat. from the University of Stuttgart, Germany and a Diploma from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

Mario Borunda, Oklahoma State University

Mario Borunda
Oklahoma State University


About Mario Borunda

Mario F. Borunda is an Associate Professor of Physics at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Borunda has developed and instructed courses at the Bachelor and Doctoral degree levels. His research has focused on finding strategies to facilitate quantum control, the quantum-to-classical boundary in chaotic systems, and using theoretical methods to study and predict novel materials for energy production and electronic applications. Dr. Borunda is enthusiastic about working with undergraduate students and has endeavors towards producing a positive impact as undergraduate research coordinator for the OSU physics program, mentoring minority students through the OK-LSAMP program and as faculty advisor of OSU’s SACNAS chapter, and at the national level as technical officer of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists and activities with the American Physical Society.

Erika Brown

Erika Brown
American Physical Society

About Erika Brown

Erika Brown is an Education and Diversity Programs Manager, at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. Specifically, she is the Program Manager for the APS Bridge Program and for the Inclusive Graduate Education Network projects. In this capacity, Brown works with members of the physics community to promote diversity by helping underrepresented minorities successfully transition into physics Ph.D. programs.

Prior to coming to APS, Brown completed her postdoctoral training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, studying the importance of specific genetic factors on mammalian inner ear development. During her time at Emory, Brown was an NIH-funded fellow within the Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) program, developing and teaching several new courses on hearing at Spelman College. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Brown University, while studying the behavioral and central effects of lateral-line sensory deprivation in bullfrog tadpoles.

Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown
University of California,
Los Angeles

About Stuart Brown

Stuart Brown is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at UCLA, where he has been a faculty member since 1992. Prior to that, he was a Director's Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in physics from UCLA in 1988. He is a condensed matter experimentalist whose research focus is mostly on the phases and properties of correlated electron system. The primary research tool of his UCLA laboratory is magnetic resonance under extreme conditions, including low temperatures, high magnetic fields, and other non-thermal tuning parameters such as pressure or strain.

Geraldine Cochran, Rutgers University

Geraldine Cochran
Rutgers University


About Geraldine Cochran

Geraldine Cochran is an Assistant Professor in the Office of STEM Education and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers University. Dr. Cochran earned her bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and her master’s degree in teaching with a specialization in secondary school physics from Chicago State University. Dr. Cochran earned her Ed.S. and her Ph.D. in science education and curriculum and instruction with a cognate in physics, respectively, from Florida International University. Cochran’s position affords her the opportunity to engage in activities for which she is very passionate, teaching physics, engaging in education research projects, and supporting efforts to broaden participation in STEM fields.


Rosa Wallace Everson
University of California, Santa Cruz


About Rosa Wallace Everson

Rosa Wallace Everson is a NSF Graduate Fellow, Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellow, and Osterbrock Fellow in Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she studies the evolution of binary black hole and binary neutron star progenitors using semi-analytical and numerical methods. With Bachelors degrees in both Theatre and Physics, she spent nearly a decade as a professional musician and performing artist prior to training as a scientist. Rosa seeks to integrate her broad experience to bridge science and society, advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, and inspire and support the next generation of researchers. Recent successes include leading the effort to craft and pass the 2016 Society of Physics Students Statement on Diversity and Inclusivity, which encourages inclusion, support, and retention in undergraduate physics departments on the national level, as well as the creation of the Women in Physics and Astrophysics Bridge Scholarship at UC Santa Cruz, which assists undergraduate women in STEM by directly reducing the financial burden of the graduate school preparation and application process.

Roger Falcone

Roger Falcone
University of California, Berkeley

About Roger Falcone

Roger Falcone is the 2018 President of the American Physical Society. He has been a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley since 1983. He chaired the department from 1995-2000, and is an affiliated faculty member of Berkeley's Energy and Resources Group. He has been the director of the Advanced Light Source x-ray synchrotron facility at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab since 2006.

Falcone received his A.B. in Physics (1974) from Princeton, and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (1979) from Stanford, and was a Marvin Chodorow Fellow in Applied Physics (1980-83) at Stanford.

He serves on the Science and Technology Committee for the Board of Governors of Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore Labs; chairs the Advisory Board for Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland; is director of the UC Institute for Materials Dynamics at Extreme Conditions; was Co-Chair of the NSF-DMR Committee for the report: NSF Materials 2022; and is past member of the APS Panel on Public Affairs.

Falcone is a Fellow of APS, OSA, and AAAS. He shared the APS Szilard Lectureship (2005) with the APS Study Group for National Missile Defense; shared the Halbach Prize for Instrumentation at the ALS, LBNL (2000) with R.W. Schoenlein; was a Distinguished Traveling Lecturer of the APS Laser Science Topical Group (1992-93); and received a Young Investigator Award from the NSF (1984).

Falcone's research primarily involves the interaction of intense light and x-rays with matter, and he has co-authored over 150 publications. He has developed technologies and techniques to study matter at extreme conditions using ultrashort-pulse lasers and fast detectors.


Frank Reno Graziani, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Frank Reno Graziani
Lawrence Livermore National Lab


About Frank Reno Graziani

Frank Graziani received a B.S. in physics from Santa Clara University, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. His thesis work was on the non-perturbative aspects of quantum field theories such as quantum chromodynamics. Dr. Graziani was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado and the University of Minnesota where he worked on cosmology and particle physics. He was a frequent visitor at NASA-Ames Research Center where he worked on exo-planet dynamics and star formation in molecular clouds. Dr. Graziani joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1989 as a Computational Physicist. He worked in the field of radiation transport and plasma physics. Since then he has held various leadership positions at the Laboratory, including project lead for the legacy code, group leader, Verification and Validation Lead for B-Division, Principal Investigator for two LDRD-Strategic Initiative projects, LLNL lead for the National Boost Initiative and Associate Division Leader for computational physics. He is currently the Director of the High Energy Density Sciences Center at LLNL. He has won four DOE Defense Program Awards of Excellence (1999, 2002, 2013, and 2017), the LLNL Director’s S&T Award (2012) and he was selected as a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff (2017). He has organized international meetings on computational methods in particle transport (2004, 2006 and 2008), the 2012 series of workshops held at UCLA on the computational methods used in high energy density physics, the 2014 the Strongly Coupled Coulomb Systems Conference, and the upcoming Nuclear Processes in Dense Plasmas (2018). His research interests include understanding the micro-physics of dense plasmas using N-body simulation tools, kinetic equations, and quantum hydrodynamics. He has authored over 50 publications in refereed journals, and he is the editor for two books on computational methods for particle transport, a book on warm dense matter physics and a review article on computational plasma physics for the Encyclopedia of Applied and Computational Mathematics.


Jennie Guzman
Sandia National Lab

About Jennie Guzman

Jennie Guzman graduated from Central High School in Fresno, California, in 2000, attended Fresno City College, and then transferred to UC Berkeley, the first in her family to go to college. She went on to pursue graduate work at UC Berkeley, in atomic, molecular and optical physics — specifically, quantum magnetism and quantum phase transitions in rubidium Bose-Einstein condensates. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2012. she took a post-doctoral position at Sandia National Laboratory in Livermore, California, where her research centered around using ultra-cold atoms as remote sensors. In 2013, she accepted a position as an assistant professor in physics at California State University, East Bay, where she led an experiment aimed at searching for small violations in the spin-statistics theorem. In 2016, Jennie decided to pursue research full-time by returning to Sandia National Lab in Livermore, where she is currently a staff scientist. In addition to her research, Jennie has participated extensively in many science education initiatives that targets science education at different stages of the science education curriculum, ranging from recruitment and science literacy for middle-school students (EYH) to professional development for science educators (STAR, IMSS, SPFII, STEM West Institute).

Theodore Hodapp, APS

Theodore Hodapp
American Physical Society


About Theodore Hodapp

Theodore Hodapp is the Director of Project Development and Senior Advisor to the Department of Education and Diversity for the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. The APS Department of Education and Diversity runs programs that advocate issues relevant to minorities and women, and in areas of education and careers. Dr. Hodapp is also Principal Investigator of a large NSF and APS-funded national effort, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition, which seeks to improve the quality and quantity of physics and physical science K-12 teachers.

Before coming to APS, Dr. Hodapp served as Program Director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education, working with programs in curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation, scholarships, and the National Science Digital Library (he is currently co-PI on the ComPADRE digital library project that is collecting physics education materials throughout the country).

Prior to coming to the NSF, Dr. Hodapp was Professor and Chair of the Hamline University Physics Department in St. Paul, Minnesota. He served as Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His research interests include laser cooling, optical modeling, and physics education research.


Leo Hollberg
Stanford University

About Leo Hollberg

Leo Hollberg, Professor Physics (research), Stanford University since 2011. Two prior years were as the CTO at AOSense. Leo spent 20+ years at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). His Ph.D. was at the University of Colorado prior to a postdoc at AT&T Bell Labs. His research has focused on high-resolution laser spectroscopy and precision measurements, including: optical atomic clocks, fs-optical frequency combs, optical time transfer, laser-cooled and -trapped atoms, semiconductor lasers, ultra-sensitive detection of trace-gases for environmental sensing, optical coherence effects in atoms, chip-scale-atomic-clocks and -magnetometers, optical and microwave atomic frequency standards, and related. At Stanford he is associated with the Hansen Experimental Physics Laboratory(HEPL), the Stanford Center on Position Navigation and Time (SCPNT), and the Woods Institute for the Environment. 

Maggie Johnson

Maggie Johnson
Google, Inc.


About Maggie Johnson

Maggie Johnson is Vice President of Education and University Relations for Google. She manages all technical training, content development, and information management programs for Google engineers and operations staff, as well as Google’s K12 educational programs in STEM and computer science. She also manages the University Relations area, building research partnerships with faculty and labs globally; and Google's strategic initiatives in online teaching and learning. Prior to Google, Maggie was teaching faculty and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Steven Lee

Steven Lee
Stanford University

About Steven Lee

Steve Lee is the Assistant Dean of Diversity and Inclusion in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University. In his role, he leads efforts in the area of student diversity, inclusion, and equity through recruiting, retaining, and supporting a diverse student body, particularly at the graduate student level.

Additionally, Lee serves in the National Research Mentoring Network as a Master Facilitator, providing trainings to mentors and mentees.  He co-authored a book chapter for the National Postdoc Association’s Advancing Postdoc Women Guidebook, and a book chapter on equipping students and postdocs to proactively manage their mentoring relationships in The Mentoring Continuum (“Mentoring Up”: Learning to Manage Your Mentoring Relationships). Additionally, he serves in an NIH review committee for TWD (Training, Workforce Development, and Diversity) programs.

Previously, he was the Graduate Diversity Officer for the STEM Disciplines at UC Davis, the assistant director for a graduate diversity program at Northwestern University, and on the faculty at Roosevelt University and Wheaton College (IL).  He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and BS in chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University.


Michelle Lollie
Louisiana State University

About Michelle Lollie

Michelle Lollie is a Huel D. Perkins Diversity Fellow in the Physics & Astronomy Department at Louisiana State University. She earned a BA in Business Administration/Finance from Clark Atlanta University, and a BS in Physics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Her research interests include investigating experimental quantum optics protocols for quantum networks and quantum LIDAR. A career changer, she left the retail banking industry to pursue her passion for physics. Her current position as a non- traditional Ph.D. student allows her to be an inspiration for others who follow the road less traveled. She’s an advocate for under-represented minorities in STEM fields and aims for a life balance of academics and community uplift.

Mike Lopez

Mike Lopez
Ohio State University


About Mike Lopez

Mike is an alumni of the OSU Bridge to Ph.D. Physics program and is now in his third year at OSU. Mike is a proud Chicano and 1st gen college student from Santa Ana, Ca.  His non-traditional identities and experiences in physics guide his investigations into how social cognitive factors such as belonging influence student retention, achievement, and aspirations in physics. He is the Outreach Officer of the OSU SACNAS chapter and co-founder of Polaris, a grad-undergrad mentorship program for underrepresented students. Mike’s greatest role models are his parents whom he owes his grit and values of putting family/community over self. Mike hopes to become a physics professor closer to his family in Ca., where he can teach, do physics education research, and direct outreach programs. When not studying, Mike enjoys being active, playing soccer, hiking, but make no mistake he is first and foremost a chubster (#CarneAsadaNachos).  (Pronouns: He/Him/His)


Ramon E. Lopez, University of Texas, Arlington

Ramon E. Lopez
University of Texas, Arlington


About Ramon E. Lopez

Ramon E. Lopez received his B.S. in Physics in 1980 from the University of Illinois, and his Ph.D. in Space Physics in 1986 from Rice University. He is a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) and a Co-Director for the UTeach Arlington teacher preparation program. He is the author of over 120 peer-reviewed publications and the popular science book “Storms from the Sun.” Dr. Lopez is active in promoting science education and diversity in science at all levels. He was one of the Co-Chairs of the writing team that produced the Next Generation Science Standards. He has served on several scientific and education committees of the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society (APS), the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and he has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). He is the President of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists for 2018 and 2019. Dr. Lopez has won numerous awards for his work in both space physics and science education, including the 2002 APS Nicholson Medal, the 2010 SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award, the 2012 APS Edward A. Bouchet Award, and two NASA Group Achievements Awards. Dr. Lopez is a Fellow of APS, AAAS, and AAPT.

Nadya Mason, University of Illinois, Urbana Champagne

Nadya Mason
University of Illinois,

About Nadya Mason

Nadya Mason is a Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University and engaged in postdoctoral research as a Junior Fellow at Harvard University. A condensed matter experimentalist, Dr. Mason focuses on electron behavior in low-dimensional materials such as nanowires, graphene, and nano-structured superconductors. Her research is relevant to the fundamental physics of small systems and applications involving nano-scale electronic elements. In addition to maintaining a rigorous research program and teaching, Dr. Mason works to increase diversity in the physical sciences. Dr. Mason was named a 2008 Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine and was a recipient of the 2009 Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award and the 2012 Maria Goeppert Mayer Award of the American Physical Society (APS). She is a former General Councilor of the APS and Chair of the APS Committee on Minorities and currently serves as Director of the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC).

Rose McCallen, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Rose McCallen
Lawrence Livermore National Lab


About Rose McCallen

Rose McCallen has been a Researcher and Project Lead at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for over three decades. In her career at LLNL, Dr. McCallen has held several leadership and technical R&D positions. Dr. McCallen was the lead on the ALE3D Code R&D Team in support of DOE, DoD, DHS, and NASA. She was also the Lead on the Rocket Motor Warhead Impact Modeling Project for the DoD and the Multiphase Reactive Flow Subgroup Lead for the Joint US/UK Insensitive Munitions Project Agreement. She organized and led a multi-lab project investigating potential threats to subways for the DHS, and the DOE multi-lab, multi-university consortium for the reduction of heavy vehicle aerodynamic drag. She has also held administrative roles as the Lead for the Applied Mathematics Group in the Center for Applied Scientific Computing. Dr. McCallen’s areas of research and development include a range of multi-physics computational modeling. She received her Ph.D. in 1993 and an MS in 1984 in Mechanical Engineering (ME) from UC Davis, a BS in ME from CSU Chico in 1980, and in Mathematics from Saint Mary’s College in 1977. She received a 2009 DOE NNSA Recognition of Excellence Award, 2004 LLNL Computation’s Leader Recognition Award, 2000 LLNL Engineering’s Emerging Leader Recognition Award, and 1998 DOE/NNSA Weapons Recognition of Excellence Award. In 2010, Dr. McCallen completed a leadership program at the UC Berkeley Hass Business School. Dr. McCallen is also a Research Associate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at UC Davis, with the advancement to Visiting Professor in July 2016.


Wendy Mendoza
University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley

About Wendy Mendoza

I am 25 years old, I was born in the small town of Willmar, Minnesota. I moved to Brownsville, Texas when I was just 7 years old. I got my first Associate Degree on General Studies at Texas Southmost College.  Currently, I am an undergraduate Physics and Astronomy major at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. I love physics because it dives into the basic nature of how things work, for instance solving the mysteries of the universe. Thus making me see physics as “poetry of the Universe.” I am a research assistant observer in the Time Domain Astronomy Group at the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy. My research interest involves the observation of asteroids and their physical properties. I was able to follow-up five asteroids and study their light curves on the Summer of 2018 in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). Hopefully, for my next research I can describe a new Asteroid with my research colleagues. After my Bachelor’s, my plan will be to go to grad school here at my University and obtain my Masters in Physics so I can join the U.S. Air Force and work on my dreams on becoming an astronaut.

Casey Miller, Rochester Institute of Technology

Casey Miller
Rochester Institute of Technology


About Casey Miller

Casey W. Miller is Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Affairs in the College of Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology. He is an experimental physicist focusing on nanoscale magnetic materials and related devices. He graduated summa cum laude with University and Physics Departmental Honors from Wittenberg University, where he was also elected to phi beta kappa. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2003, did his post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Diego, and is a recipient of the NSF-CAREER and AFOSR-Young Investigator Awards. He served as Director of RIT's Materials Science & Engineering program, and Associate Director of the University of South Florida’s Applied Physics Ph.D. program

Dr. Miller has also been recognized for his work on exploring methods for transforming recruitment, admissions, and retention to increase the access and inclusion in STEM for underrepresented groups. He interacts significantly with the professional society of physics, the American Physical Society (APS) in this capacity. He served as Director of the APS Bridge Program's Site at USF, was appointed by the APS President to its Committee on Minorities, served as Chair of the 2017 APS Graduate Education and Bridge Program Conference, and has been invited to speak at multiple APS Department Chairs conferences.

Jon Pelz, Ohio State University

Jon Pelz
Ohio State University


About Jon Pelz

Jon Pelz received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1987. After postdoctoral research at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Pelz joined the Ohio State University faculty in 1990. Pelz’s experimental condensed matter physics research focuses on nanometer-scale electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of surfaces, interfaces, and device structures, primarily using scanned probe techniques and electronic modeling. His group has also developed equipment and techniques for imaging and understanding electronic traps in technologically important wide band gap semiconductor materials and devices. Pelz is currently the Vice Chair of Graduate Studies and Research in the Ohio State University Physics Department, and is co-director of Ohio State’s M.S-to-Ph.D. Physics Bridge Program.

Christine Pfund

Christine Pfund
University of Wisconsin,

About Christine Pfund

Christine Pfund, Ph.D. is a scientist with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research and the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW). Dr. Pfund earned her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology, followed by post-doctoral research in Plant Pathology, both at University of Wisconsin-Madison. For almost a decade, Dr. Pfund served as the Associate Director of the Delta Program in Research, Teaching, and Learning and the co-Director of the Wisconsin Program for Scientific Teaching helping to train future faculty to become better more effective teachers. Chris is now conducting research with several programs across the UW campus including the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and the Center for Women’s Health Research. Her work focuses on developing, implementing, documenting, and studying interventions to optimize research mentoring relationships across science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine (STEMM). Dr. Pfund co-authored the original Entering Mentoring curriculum and co-authored several papers documenting the effectiveness of this approach. Currently, Dr. Pfund is co-leading two studies focused on the impact of training on both mentors and mentees and understanding specific factors in mentoring relationships that account for positive student outcomes. Dr. Pfund is one of the principal investigators of the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) and directs both the NRMN Mentor Training and Administrative Cores. She is also director of the Center for the Improvement of Mentored Experience in Research at UW-Madison (CIMER).

Galen Pickett, California State University, Long Beach

Galen Pickett
California State University,
Long Beach

About Galen Pickett

Galen Pickett has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State University Long Beach since 1999. He is a member of the CSU Long Beach PhysTEC and APS Bridge leadership teams and has served as the director of the undergraduate program, 2003-2016. During that period, the undergraduate program grew in both size and diversity so that now the undergraduate graduating class is annually 40-50, and the minority graduating class is 20-30, students. Dr. Pickett holds degrees from MIT (1989) and the University of Chicago (1995), and studies self-assembly in soft matter and complex systems.

Monica Plisch, APS

Monica Plisch
American Physical Society


About Monica Plisch

Monica Plisch serves as the Director of Education and Diversity at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. She is a co-PI on the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project and a member of the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. She also leads initiatives to improve mentoring and ethics education and to develop high school lessons on contemporary physics.

Before coming to the APS, Plisch led education programs at a NSF funded center at Cornell University, where she developed programs on nanotechnology for undergraduate students and physics teachers. Plisch completed her doctoral studies in physics (nanomagnetics) at Cornell University. She enjoys competitive rowing and running.

Chris Porter, OSU

Chris Porter
Ohio State University


About Chris Porter

Chris Porter is a Postdoctoral Researcher in The Ohio State University’s Physics Education Research Group, and an Academic Mentor with the OSU Physics M.S. – Ph.D. Bridge Program, in Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Porter and the entire OSU Physics Bridge Program share the APS goals of increasing the number of advanced degrees awarded to members of groups underrepresented in physics and improving the quality of graduate physics education in general. His current interests are graduate-level physics education research, and applications of smartphone-based virtual reality to STEM education.

Dr. Porter obtained an undergraduate degree from Universitaet Leipzig, in Leipzig, Germany, and received his Ph. D. from the Ohio State University in Condensed Matter Theory. Prior to joining the OSU bridge program, Dr. Porter was a Visiting Professor of Physics at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and a Visiting Researcher at Trinity College Dublin in Dublin, Ireland. He has also worked in the private sector for a number of publishers, notably contributing to Eric Mazur’s Principles and Practice of Physics, and serving as a Director of Digital Content for McGraw Hill Education.

Dr. Porter is married to biochemist Nicole Hoefer, and they have two brilliant daughters.

Julie Posselt, University of Southern California

Julie Posselt
University of Southern California


About Julie Posselt

Julie Posselt is Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Southern California. Using sociological and organizational theory, her work investigates institutionalized inequities in selective sectors of higher education— especially graduate education, STEM fields, and elite undergraduate institutions. She focuses in particular on how faculty and administrators negotiate longstanding practices and cultural norms in order to better identify talent and educate students in a changing society. Dr. Posselt is the author of Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping (Harvard University Press, 2016), an award-winning ethnographic comparative study of faculty decision making in doctoral admissions. Her research is also published in the American Educational Research Journal, Journal of Higher Education, Annual Review of Sociology, and Research in Higher Education, among others. Her work has also been highlighted in Science, The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post, among others. A member of the editorial review boards for the Journal of Higher Education and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, her current research is funded by the Mellon Foundation and National Science Foundation. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and was a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation postdoctoral fellow. Recently, Posselt was honored with the 2018 American Educational Research Association Early Career Award and 2017 Association for the Study of Higher Education Early Career Award.

Talat Rahman, University of Central Florida

Talat Rahman
University of Central Florida


About Talat Rahman

Talat Rahman is a Pegasus Professor and Distinguished Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida. Her research interests focus in computational design of functional nanomaterials through microscopic understanding of their physical and chemical properties. A related interest is in multiscale modeling of chemical reactions and thin film growth processes. Apart from using density functional theory (DFT) based methods as her workhorse, her group also works on techniques that go beyond DFT. Her research is funded through grants from the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Vacuum Society, and recipient of several professional awards including the Research Incentive and Excellence Awards from UCF, Visiting Miller Professorship from University of California-Berkeley, Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize, Higuchi Research Award from the University of Kansas, and the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, Kansas State University. She is engaged in establishing research initiatives in developing countries such as Pakistan. She has published over 270 articles in high impact journals and mentored a large number of Ph.D. students. She has been involved nationally and internationally in efforts to promote the participation of women and minorities (particularly through the Bridge Program of American Physical Society and as chair of UCF Physics department from 2006 to 2015) in STEM disciplines. She is also involved in pedagogical reforms in the teaching of physics and in the recruitment and training of students for careers in teaching through the APS PhysTEC program. She is chair of the Diversity and Inclusion sub-Committee of the American Vacuum Society and a member of the National Academies Committee on Decadal Survey of Frontiers of Material Science. She also serves on the Executive Editorial Board of Journal of Physics Condensed Matter and of Progress in Surface Science.

William Ratcliff, National Institute of Standards and Technology

William Ratcliff
National Institute of Standards and Technology

About William Ratcliff

William Ratcliff is a Physicist at the NIST Center for Neutron Research. He has published over 50 papers. Dr. Ratcliff’s publications have received over 5,000 citations. He has given numerous invited talks at international conferences and has organized several workshops. He currently serves as Chair of the APS Committee on Minorities.

Willie Rockward

Willie Rockward
Morgan State University

About Willie Rockward

Rockward is a Professor of Physics, and the current chair of the Physics Department at Morgan State University. He has a unique combination of leadership from academic, professional, and community experiences. As a tenured professor at Morehouse College, he served the past 7 years as the Chair of the Department of Physics & Dual Degree Engineering Program (Physics & DDEP) and the past 20 years as the Research Director of the Materials and Optics Research & Engineering (MORE) Laboratory. Among his professional leadership experiences, he is the President of the National Society of Black Physicists and the immediate Past President of Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honor Society. Also, he has served a combination of 23 years as Pastor of the Divine Unity Missionary Baptist Church and Associate Minister of Antioch Baptist Church North in East Point and Atlanta, Georgia, respectively.

As Chair of Physics & DDEP at Morehouse, his vision and leadership resulted in the department being the US #1 producer for underrepresented minorities with Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics according to the American Institute of Physics in conjunction to boasting the Nation’s most productive Dual Degree Engineering Program. He is a strong proponent of STEM mentorship using methodologies of faculty-to-student, peer-to-peer, professional shadowing, life-skills coaching, and research apprenticeship. His current research interests include micro/nano optics lithography, extreme ultraviolet interferometry, metamaterials, terahertz imaging, nanostructure characterization, and crossed phase optics.


Brian Zamarippa Roman
University of Central Florida

About Brian Zamarripa Roman

My name is Brian Zamarripa Roman (two last names) and I love the Universe with all my heart for giving us the chance to experience it. I descend from Mexican and Puerto Rican parents and was born and raised in El Paso del Norte, the metropolitan borderland of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. I’m a fourth year Ph.D. grad student at the University of Central Florida, where I dedicate my time promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in physics through Physics Education Research (PER). My current work focuses on exploring implicit cultural notions, such as success in physics, by amplifying the voices of people who are traditionally undervalued with qualitative methods. My work also extends to service in the community as current student representative of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, member of the Committee on Diversity in Physics of American Association of Physics Teachers, and officer of the PER Consortium of Graduate Students. To keep life enjoyable, I often dedicate my time to hanging out with friends, doing autocross in my 1993 Honda Civic hatchback, and writing poetry in the form of Hip-hop.

Tiffany Santos, HGST (Western Digital)

Tiffany Santos
HGST (Western Digital)


About Tiffany Santos

Tiffany Santos has been a Principal Engineer at Western Digital (formerly known as Hitachi Global Storage Technologies) in San Jose, California for 7 years, first in the hard disk drive media research and development team, and more recently in the non-volatile memory research team. Dr. Santos received her BS and Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she did her thesis research on magnetic tunnel junctions and thin film magnetism. She was a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow and later become an Assistant Scientist in the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory, researching emergent phenomena at complex oxide interfaces made by molecular beam epitaxy. In 2009, she was awarded a L’Oreal USA Fellowship for Women in Science. She serves on the executive committee and program committee of several international magnetism conferences. She is a mother to two active toddlers.

Alison Saunders, Lawrence Livermore National Lab

Alison Saunders
Lawrence Livermore National Lab


About Alison Saunders

Alison Saunders received a B.A. in physics in 2011 from Reed College and an M.A. in 2015 and Ph.D. in 2018 in physics from the University of California Berkeley. Her thesis focused on the use of x-ray Thomson scattering as a diagnostic for plasma conditions in warm dense matter experiments at large laser facilities. She completed most of her research through collaborations at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) as part of the DOE NNSA Science Stewardship Graduate Fellowship program. In addition to her primary thesis research, Dr. Saunders participated in many other plasma physics-related experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Jupiter Laser Facility at LLNL, and a high-harmonics table-top laser source at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Prior to beginning her graduate school education, Alison Saunders served as an Accelerator Systems and Safety Operator at SLAC for several years, which introduced her to the magnitude of expertise required to run large national laboratory facilities and motivated her to pursue her graduate work at national labs. Dr. Saunders is currently a postdoc in plasma physics at UC Berkeley and studies the equation of state of matter in extreme conditions. She plans to pursue a career at a DOE laboratory.

Carol Scarlett

Carol Scarlett
Florida A&M University


About Carol Scarlett

Carol Scarlett is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Florida A&M University (FAMU). She is actively involved in dark matter research, as well as developing a program to use positrons to study plasmas and weak interactions. She conducts research at FAMU as well as at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHFML). Dr. Scarlett also currently serves as the Technical Executive Officer for the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP), and as a member of the APS Committee on Minorities.

Monica Schleier-Smith, Stanford University

Monika Schleier-Smith
Stanford University


About Monika Schleier-Smith

Monika Schleier-Smith is an Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University. She received her B.A. from Harvard University in Chemistry and Physics, with a secondary concentration in Mathematics. She subsequently pursued graduate studies in experimental atomic physics at MIT, where her thesis work included demonstrating the use of quantum entanglement to enhance the stability of an atomic clock. After receiving her Ph.D. in 2011, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU Munich). At Stanford, Dr. Schleier-Smith’s research group uses laser-cooled atoms as model systems for studying many-body quantum mechanics. Honors and awards include the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, AFOSR Young Investigator Award, and Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar Award.

Keivan Guadalupe Stassun, Vanderbilt University

Keivan Guadalupe Stassun
Vanderbilt University


About Keivan Guadalupe Stassun

After earning A.B. degrees in physics and in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley, and the Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Dr. Stassun was a NASA Hubble postdoctoral fellow before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2003. A recipient of a CAREER award from NSF and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, Dr. Stassun’s research star formation, and exoplanets has appeared in more than 250 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is a co-investigator for the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission and chairs the executive committee of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. From 2004 to 2015, he served as founding director of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program, through which Fisk has become the top producer of African American master’s degrees in physics and Vanderbilt has become one of the nation’s top producers of PhDs to underrepresented minorities in the physical sciences. He has served on the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, the NSF Committee for Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering, has been recognized by the Fletcher Foundation for “contributions advancing the spirit of Brown versus Board of Education,” is a recipient of the American Physical Society’s Nicholson Medal for Human Outreach, and is an elected Fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2010, Dr. Stassun was invited to give expert testimony on “broadening participation in STEM” to the US House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology. For the past ten years, Dr. Stassun has served as founding director of the Vanderbilt Initiative in Data-intensive Astrophysics. In 2017, Dr. Stassun launched the Vanderbilt Initiative for Autism & Innovation, focused on advancing science and engineering through the engagement and advancement of individuals with autism. This year, Dr. Stassun was awarded a million-dollar HHMI Professor Prize and was named Mentor of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Heather Thiry, University of Colorado

Heather Thiry
University of Colorado


About Heather Thiry

Heather Thiry is a Research Associate with Ethnography & Evaluation Research (E&ER) at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in undergraduate STEM majors, the impact of out-of-class experiences on student persistence and learning in STEM fields, and the development of STEM identity among students from underrepresented populations. She is the author of numerous publications and book chapters on undergraduate STEM education, and a co-author of the forthcoming book, Talking about Leaving Revisited. The Talking about Leaving Revisited study, headed by Elaine Seymour, returned to the original institutions from the seminal study, Talking about Leaving, to investigate what has and has not changed in the past 25 years in undergraduate retention and student learning experiences in STEM majors. She also recently served on a National Academy of Sciences committee which produced the report, Undergraduate Research Experiences for STEM Students: Success, Challenges and Opportunities. She currently heads a large-scale, National Science Foundation-funded study of student transfer from two-year to four-year institutions in STEM fields. The study employs mixed methodologies to investigate successful transfer practices at institutions in three different states.

Jenna Walrath, Intel

Jenna Walrath


About Jenna Walrath

Jenna Walrath is currently a Module Engineer (also known as process engineer) in front-end chemical and mechanical planarization at the Portland Technology Development division of Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, OR. PTD Module Engineers are responsible for leading scientific research enabling the manufacture of innovative device architectures, including designing, executing and analyzing experiments necessary to meet engineering specifications for their process.

Jenna received her B.S. in Physics from Purdue University in 2011, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Michigan in 2016 working with Professor Rachel Goldman in condensed matter physics, studying nanostructured semiconductor materials as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. While at Purdue and Michigan, Dr. Walrath was on the organizing committee for two Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) in 2011 and 2015. While at Michigan she was a leader of the Society for Women in Physics, and she is currently serving on the American Physical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.

Lawrence Woolf, General Automatics

Lawrence Woolf
General Atomics


About Lawrence Woolf

Lawrence Woolf is a Sciences Manager and Technical Fellow at General Atomics (GA) Aeronautical Systems, Inc. He received a Ph.D. in low temperature condensed matter physics from UCSD in 1980 and a BA in physics from Rutgers College in 1975. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Exxon Corporate Research Science Laboratory, Dr. Woolf joined GA in 1982. He has been Project Manager or Lead Scientist for over 45 programs involving the design, development, and production of a variety of advanced materials. He is the author or co-author of 74 scientific publications in the area of materials physics, energy conversion systems, and science education, has given 43 scientific presentations, holds 25 patents, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Dr. Woolf is also President and Chairman of the Board of the GA Sciences Education Foundation, where he initiated the GASSSS program that involves employees in K-12 education outreach. He has developed many educational modules, materials, and posters and has given over 100 workshops to teachers and students. He was curriculum advisor/technical reviewer for two Lawrence Hall of Science FOSS middle school modules and was a curriculum advisor/technical reviewer for the BSCS Science: An Inquiry Approach high school curriculum. He has been a member of 25 National Science Foundation and 5 Department of Energy review panels and committees. He has served on many APS education committees and activities, organized many sessions at national meetings, and has given many presentations on careers. He served as chair of the APS Forum on Education, and was a member of the Second Graduate Education in Physics Conference and the APS/AAPT Joint Task Force on Undergraduate Physics Programs, which produced the Phys 21 report addressing the skills and knowledge that undergraduate physics degree holders should possess to be prepared for a diverse set of careers. He is currently a member of the Task Force on Best Practices for Undergraduate Physics Programs.

Lance Cooper

Lance Cooper
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

About Lance Cooper

Lance Cooper is Professor of Physics and Associate Head for Graduate Programs at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). He is an experimental physicist focusing on condensed matter physics. His group uses optical spectroscopy to reveal the properties of and excitations in novel states of matter in strongly correlated materials. He graduated with a BS in Physics summa cum laude from the U of Virginia, and received a PhD in Physics from U of Illinois. After a two-year postdoctoral appointment at AT&T Bell Labs, Professor Cooper joined the UIUC faculty.

Professor Cooper was awarded the 2018 Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award of the Office of the Provost at UIUC, an award that recognizes sustained excellence in graduate student mentoring; innovative approaches to graduate advising; major impact on graduate student scholarship and professional development; and other contributions in the form of courses and curricula, workshops, and similar initiatives.  Professor Cooper serves on the Advisory Committee on Diversity and Inclusion at the UIUC College of Engineering, and he is a co-principal investigator of the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentorship, a program funded by the Sloan Foundation that aims to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities in advanced degree programs in STEM fields.

The American Physical Society Bridge Program (APS-BP) and the National Mentoring Community (NMC) are efforts by APS to increase the number of physics degrees earned by underrepresented minority students, defined by the project as African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1143070. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.