National Mentoring Community Conference

Conference Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Corey Gray

Corey Gray

CalTech, LIGO

About Corey Gray

Corey Gray is a member of the Siksika Nation (Northern Blackfoot tribe of Alberta) and Scottish. He received Bachelor of Science degrees in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Humboldt State University (HSU) in northern California. After graduation, he was hired by Caltech (California Institute of Technology) to work for the astronomy project, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory) at their observatory in Washington state. As a member of the LIGO team, Corey’s work includes working on team to help build the gravitational wave detector, followed by also operating the detector. Corey has been with LIGO since 1998. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) made big news in 2016 by announcing what has been hailed as “the scientific breakthrough of the century”: the first direct detection of gravitational waves. This was a monumental discovery because it proves a prediction made 100 years earlier by Albert Einstein! LIGO has made several more detections over the years. These detections mark the beginning of a completely new field of science: gravitational wave astronomy. Corey does outreach and science communication work for LIGO, and especially loves to share the science of Einstein with underrepresented communities. Corey is also proud of recruiting his mother, Sharon Yellowfly, to translate several detection press releases into the Blackfoot Language! In Corey’s personal life you can find him hiking a trail, dancing at a salsa club, fly fishing, or catching a cool film. He also loves to travel, whether it is locally or around the world.

Tabbetha Dobbins


Rowan University

About Tabbetha Dobbins

Tabbetha Dobbins is an associate professor of physics at Rowan University, where she studies the relationship between structure and dynamics in composite materials using neutron and X-ray scattering. Dr. Tobbins received her PhD in (Materials Science & Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, her MS in Materials Science & Engineering from University of Pennsylvania and her BS in Physics from Lincoln University. She was awarded the National Science Foundation Early Faculty Career Award in 2009. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the Materials Research Society, ASM International, the National Society of Black Physicists, and she is part of the steering committee for Lightsources for Africa, the Americas, Asia and Middle East Project (LAAMP.) She serves on the The AIP National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP) which aims to increase representation of African-American students in physics and astronomy at the undergraduate level.

Dave Austin

dave austin

University of Central Florida

About Dave Austin

Dave Austin is currently a Bridge Fellow at the University of Central Florida. He is working on his Ph.D. in the research area of computational condensed matter. Working under the direction of Dr. Talat Rahman he is looking at the electrical and magnetic properties of single-molecule magnets on different 2D materials. He is also the treasurer of the Graduate Society of Physics Students at UCF. He earned his Bachelor’s Science degree in Physics with a concentration in Computational Neuroscience from the College of Charleston; where he worked under Dr. Sorinel Oprisan studying the phase response curves of computationally modeled neurons.

Elon Price


Fisk University

About Elon Price

Elon Price is a first-year Master’s student in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge program in Nashville, TN. She’s currently doing her research with NASA CubeSat, a 10x10x10 cm^3 neutron-gamma detector with potential applications in asteroid mining. She’s a recent graduate from North Carolina State University as of May 2019 where she received a Bachelor’s of Art in Physics and a minor in Mathematics. At State, her research included an independent project that involves background analysis of the PULSTAR reactor at State using a High Purity Germanium detector.

As of two years, Elon has been serving on a student council to the board of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). Together with the other council members, they’ve drafted a constitution and established three official student chapters (Hampton University being the first), two are being voting on and many more going through the process. Elon also helped to found the first chapter at NC State and served as the president in her senior year. Outside of the physics world, Elon has been passionate about teaching violin and music theory to black youth with preference to low-income families at the St. Paul AME Church. She has recently established a sole-proprietorship and plans to continue teaching privately. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking vegan foods and playing various instruments (including violin, electric bass, and piano).

Xandria Quichocho


Texas State University

About Xandria Quichocho

Xandria Quichocho is an Afro-Chamorro physicist recently graduated from Texas State University. Her participation in the Physics Learning Assistant (LA) Program and concert cellist with a pedagogical background led her to work with Dr. Eleanor Close’s physics education research (PER) group. Xandria’s main research focus stems directly from her identity as a bisexual woman of color in physics. She studies the how the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality interact with women of color and LGBTQ+ women’s identity as physicists. This research has led to the publication of the first two articles about LGBTQ+ students in physics research in 2019.

Xandria currently serves as the Associate Director of the Texas State Physics LA Program. Along with her work into intersectional physics identity, she is looking into how a community-centered LA helps aid in physics identity development for traditionally marginalized students. It is her goal to attend a PER-focused graduate program and become someone who has the power to help other women with identities similar to herself. She spends much of her free time with her dog Facetiming her three sisters and mamma. In an effort to have “hobbies”, she loves to rock climb and ride her bike in San Marcos, continues to study and teach cello, and frequently performs “Rainbow Connection” to an empty room on her ukulele when spending late nights in the lab.

Workshop Speakers

Crystal Bailey

crystal bailey


About Crystal Bailey

Dr. Crystal Bailey is the Head of Career Programs at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, MD. Crystal works on several projects which are geared towards marketing physics and physics career information to high school students, undergraduates, graduate students and physics professionals. Some of her principle projects include the Physics InSight slideshow, career events and workshops at APS annual and division meetings, the APS Job Board and Job Fairs, APS Webinars, and maintaining resources on the APS Careers Website. As the principle investigator for the APS PIPELINE project, she also devotes significant amounts of time to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship education in physics. Before coming to the APS, Dr. Bailey did research in nuclear physics at Indiana University, Bloomington in the area of few-body systems. In 2008 she received the Konopinski Award for Outstanding Graduate Teaching from the IU Physics Department. She graduated with her PhD from IU in 2009.

Chance Barrett

chance barrett

University of Central Florida

About Chance Barrett

Chance Barrett was raised in Beacon, NY. He attended Lincoln University, located in Pennsylvania, and graduated in 2015 with a BS in physics, as well as a BA in French. In 2016 he was accepted into the physics graduate program at the University of Central Florida where he would receive an MS in physics while continuing his studies as a PhD student. His current area of research is centered around nanoscale characterization. When he is not studying, Chance enjoys improving his piano skills, DJing, and playing basketball.

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.

Tommy Boykin


University of Central Florida

About Tommy Boykin

Tommy Boykin II is a recent graduate from the University of Central Florida, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics. His dissertation focused on determining the structure of a squid protein called reflectin by solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). His research on reflectin will help to understand the link between reflectin’s structure and natural optical and electronic properties. His current research interest is developing thin film materials with appealing electronic, magnetic, and optical properties. Tommy earned his B.A. in physics in 2013 from Berea College, Kentucky, and M.S. in physics in 2016 from the University of Central Florida. During graduate school, he was awarded an international research experience in Tokyo, Japan with the leading telecommunications company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT). After this experience, he received the SMART Scholarship for Service Award in 2017, and the American Physical Society’s conference grant in 2018. Tommy has published a paper in Nature Communications, “Ferromagnetism above 1000 K in a highly cation-ordered double-perovskite insulator Sr 3 OsO 6 .” Additionally, Tommy is serving on the National Advisory Board for the Inclusive Graduate Education Network (IGEN).

Charles Brown

Yale University

About Charles Brown

Charles Brown was a first generation college student, who went on to earn his B.S. in Physics at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (2013), and his Ph.D. in Physics at Yale (2019). He is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Ultracold Atomic Physics Group at the University of California, Berkeley. His current research interests lay in the exotic phases of matter that may emerge as a result of the many-body quantum physics that dictates the behavior of ultracold atomic gases trapped in two-dimensional optical lattices. As a graduate student, Charles served a two-year term (2016-2018) on the executive board of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) as the Student Representative. In this role, he served as a liaison between students and the NSBP leadership, advocating for students’ needs and organizing student-specific content at the annual conference. Additionally, Charles co-founded the Yale League of Black Scientists, a group that supported the retention of PoC in STEM, hosted exciting and hands-on STEM outreach events, gave public scientific lectures to the broader Yale/New Haven community, and co-organized a city-wide STEM career fair for New Haven high school students, among other efforts.

Nicole Cabrera Salazar

Nicole Cabrera-Salazar

Movement Consulting

About Nicole Cabrera Salazar

Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar is a Latina astronomer who is passionate about social justice in science and technology. After creating multiple initiatives in graduate school for marginalized students, she decided to shift her career away from research to focus on integrating the STEM community through her company Movement Consulting. Nicole is also a dedicated mentor, helping Black and Brown scientists uncover their full potential. Movement Consulting is a social innovation company disrupting science and technology by empowering marginalized people to be their whole authentic selves. We partner with universities, research institutions, and tech companies who are committed to supporting marginalized scientists but may not know where to start. Rather than focus on diversity and inclusion in STEM, we believe that we have a responsibility to integrate marginalized people, their traditional knowledge and values, and their ways of being and doing science.

Liza Chang

Liza Chang

University of Wisconsin

About Liza Chang

Liza Chang is the Research Mentor and Mentee Training Coordinator for the Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement (WISCIENCE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Liza is passionate about broadening access to and creating inclusive environments within STEM. For undergraduates interested in or engaging in research, Liza coordinates workshops and research programs and teaches courses to support their navigation of and engagement in the research environment. She also coordinates and facilitates seminars and workshops for graduate students, postdocs, and faculty to enhance mentorship at UW-Madison.

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, or 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.

Leslie Davis

leslie davis

University of Central Florida

About Leslie Davis

Leslie Victoria Davis was born in Colorado, but raised in Georgia. Leslie graduated with her BS in Physics from Spelman College, an all-women’s historically black college in Atlanta, GA in the Fall of 2014, and was accepted into the APS Bridge Program at the California State University Long Beach (CSULB) the same year. After completing her thesis on the effect of oxidation on the magnetic properties of thin films, she graduated from CSULB in Summer of 2017 with a Masters in Physics. Leslie currently attends the University of Central Florida, as a PhD student in Physics. She recently received her second Masters from UCF in the summer of 2019, while doing experimental research on the electrical properties of semiconductors. After her education, Leslie hopes to pursue a job in industry or a national lab where she can continue doing research.

Jessica Esquivel

Jessica Esquival


About Jessica Esquivel

Dr. Jessica Esquivel has navigated spaces where she is often “the first” or “the only.” Dr. Esquivel is one of 150 black women in the United States with a PhD in physics. She is also the second black woman to graduate with a PhD in physics from Syracuse University. Dr. Esquivel is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory working on the Muon g-2 Experiment which is tasked with observing physics beyond the standard model. Dr. Esquivel’s graduate research focused on studying ghostly particles called neutrinos interacting in the MicroBooNE Experiment using innovative machine learning techniques like those used in facial recognition software. She received her bachelors in Electrical Engineering and Applied Physics from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, TX. Dr. Esquivel identifies as female, black, Afrolatinx lesbian, a physicist, and a Texan. She is an advocate for increasing diversity in physics by focusing on the intersections of race, gender and sexuality in her outreach efforts. She has been recognized by The Fermilab Friends for Science Education Organization for the exceptional contributions she’s made to Fermilab’s K-12 education and outreach programs, was featured in Adler Planetarium’s Chicago Black Women in STEAM series (BlackWomeninSTEAM), interviewed by Lean In: Women of Color for Black Women's Equal Pay Day discussing the gender wage gap for black women (, and interviewed by Casual Space’s Beth Mund discussing neutrinos, what makes a scientist, and finding inspiration in weird places (CasualSpace). Her most recent accomplishments include organizing the participation and sponsorship of Fermilab at Wakandacon, a 3-day afro-futuristic convention that strives to create a safe space for the black community to explore their interests from comic culture to STEM, and being named The American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences IF/THEN Ambassador (, a program that looks to inspire middle school girls to become the next generation of STEM Pioneers. Dr. Esquivel is a Texas transplant living in Illinois with her wife and two furry rescue animals (Treadaway and Daisy Dukes Esquivel). To learn more about Dr. Esquivel, please visit her website at or connect with her on social media @DrEsquivelPHD on LinkedIn/Twitter/Instagram.

Abdelkader Kara


University of Central Florida

About Abdelkader Kara

Dr. Abdelkader Kara is a Professor of Physics and Graduate Program Director at the University of Central Florida. He received his PhD in Condensed Matter from the Technical University of Lille and CEA Saclay, France, with Highest Honors. Dr. Kara’s research interests encompass a variety of aspects in materials science spanning over different length and time scales. He uses first principles electronic structure calculations (Density Functional Theory) to study surface properties (relaxations, chemisorption etc ..) and to gain insight into the nature of the environment dependent interatomic bonding. He also uses model potentials to perform extensive studies of temperature/time dependent properties of complex/low symmetry systems.

Zhi Liao

Zhi Liao

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

About Zhi Liao

Dr. Zhi M. Liao is a laser physicist at the National Ignition Facility and Photon Science (NIF&PS) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). He joined LLNL in 2001 after graduating from University of Rochester where he obtained his B.S., M.S. and PhD in optical engineering, working under Dr. Govind Agrawal on nonlinear fiber optics. His expertise is in laser-induced optic damage, nonlinear optics, and adaptive optics. He has contributed to many of LLNL’s successful laser projects over the years such as the Fiber Laser Guide Star, Alkali Laser, the Mercury Laser, and NIF. He has authored over 60 publications over the years covering experimental as well as modeling results and has given many talks on the topic including as an invited speaker and guest lecturer. He has 3 patents and was also the co-PI for the team that won R&D award for high-average- power frequency conversion using YCOB crystal. Currently, he is the leading researcher at modeling optic damage and lifetime for NIF.

Dr. Liao also leads many of NIF&PS’s work force development initiatives which includes professional development for staff, diversity & inclusion engagement, educational outreach & internship programs. He is a senior member of OSA and has served as executive committee member (including chair) of OSA technical groups. He also has served as the international program committee for the Pacific Rim Laser Damage conference since 2016.

Arianna Long

Arianna Long

UC Irvine

About Arianna Long

Arianna Long is a physics PhD candidate studying massive, distant, and dusty galaxies at UC Irvine. In 2014, she graduated from Towson University with a B.S. in applied mathematics and began a career as a data science consultant. She returned to academia to pursue a career in astronomy, achieving her master’s degree in physics through the NASA DIRECT-STEM bridge program at Cal State LA in 2017. Arianna is a major mentorship aficionado; she is co-founder of the UCI Physics and Astronomy Community Excellence (PACE) mentoring program, has extensive experience and training in mentoring minority undergraduate and graduate students, and has led several workshops on these subjects. She is personally invested in promoting the impact of mentoring structures (lateral, vertical, web-like) on the long-term success, health, and retention of undergraduate and graduate students of color in STEM. Arianna also serves on her department's Inclusive Excellence committee and is very proud to be #BLACKandSTEM. When she is not on campus, she enjoys reading sci-fi and fantasy novels on the beach with her partner and fur-baby.

Julie Malicoat

julie malicoat


About Julie Malicoat

Julie Malicoat is a Senior Program Manager for Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU). She has more than 20 years of experience in the operation of programs for DOE facilities. She currently manages high school, undergraduate, and faculty internship programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and provides support for internship programs at five additional facilities/laboratories.

Camillo Mariani


Virginia Tech

About Camillo Mariani

Camillo Mariani is an Associate Professor in the Physics Department at Virginia Tech where he has been a faculty member since 2012. He is Director of the neutrino REU and of the Graduate Program in the Physics Department. Prof. Mariani completed his undergraduate in 2003 and Ph.D in 2008 from University of Rome, La Sapienza in Rome, Italy. His research interests lie in the area of neutrino physics, from oscillation experiments to neutrino interactions in matter. Prof. Mariani is currently participating in various neutrino experiments, from accelerator to reactor neutrino oscillation experiments.

Pete Markowitz

pete markowitz

Florida International University

About Pete Markowitz

Pete Markowitz joined FIU in 1995. He carries out nuclear and particle physics experiments at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, in Virginia and the European Center for Nuclear and Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland. His research interests focus on the electroproduction of quarks and anti-quarks (or matter and anti-matter), quark structure of nuclei, dark matter, and dark energy. He conducted a series of experiments measuring strange quark effects in atomic nuclei are mapping out the behavior of these elusive and unstable particles. The experiments use high energy accelerators to bombard various target materials and then to measure the subsequent particles which are produced. During his time at FIU he has taught Nuclear Physics, Intermediate Classical Mechanics, Modern Physics, Modern Physics Laboratory, and the introductory physics sequences, as well as a FIG and the Freshman Experience course. He also is a Fellow of the FIU Honors College, where he teaches multidisciplinary courses that focus on questions such as origins and how ideas begin.

Kermin Martinez-Hernandez

Kermin martinez

Rochester Institute of Technology

About Kermin Martinez-Hernandez

Kermin J. Martínez-Hernández is an Associate Professor in the Chemistry Department at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. He is an active NRMN/CIMER Master Facilitator across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. He has vast experience facilitating: Entering Mentoring, Facilitator Training for Entering Mentoring, and Culturally Aware Mentoring. He has also done synchronous online research mentor training (RMT) to mentors participating in the NSF Research Experiences of Undergraduate (REU) programs including graduate students, postdocs, and faculty. He has led trainings at national scientific conferences including the American Society for Microbiology, the Society for Neuroscience, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), American Physical Society Día de la Física, and others as well as several colleges and universities.

He teaches general chemistry classes and organizes teacher workshops about differentiated instruction and problem-based learning. His chemical education research focus is on the assessment of the implementation of problem-based learning at the middle, high school, and college levels. He is conducting research in nanotechnology with undergraduate students, his research project is “Encapsulating Ibuprofen using Beeswax Microspheres”.

He has also developed other workshops and panel sessions for SACNAS related with mentoring such as "Expand Your Network: How to Identify Advisors, Mentors, Sponsors for a Successful Career" and "Stories from the Other Side of the Blurry Tunnel, It Gets Better after All!" where he provides advice and mentoring to undergraduate/graduate students. He holds degrees from Purdue University (Ph.D.), University of Puerto - Mayagüez (M.S.), and University of Puerto - Mayagüez (B.S.).

Jay Mathews

Jay Mathews

University of Dayton

About Jay Mathews

Dr. Jay Mathews is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and affiliated faculty in the Electro-Optics and Photonics Graduate Engineering Program at the University of Dayton. He obtained his BS with a double major in Physics and Mathematics from Colorado State University in 2007, and he received his PhD in Physics from Arizona State University in 2011. Following graduation, Dr. Mathews was awarded a fellowship in the National Academy of Sciences Research Associateship Program, where he performed research for the US Army’s Benet Laboratories at Watervliet Arsenal in NY until July 2013. He joined the Physics department at UD in 2013. Since starting at UD, Dr. Mathews has been awarded ~$1M in internal and external research funding, including an Air Force Office ofScientific Research Young Investigator Award in 2016. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Ohio Region Section of the American Physical Society (OSAPS). Dr. Mathews has a history of working with students from underrepresented groups and has mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in the past 7 years, including female, black, latinx, and GLBTQ+ students, as well as international students from China, Honduras, and Peru. He is also the founder of a summer research program for undergraduate students from historically-black or Hispanic-serving institutions. Dr. Mathews recently received the 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Recognition prize from The Optical Society (OSA).

Jose Mendoza-Cortes

jose mendoza-cortez

Florida A&M University, Florida State University

About Jose Mendoza-Cortes

Dr. Mendoza-Cortes has pioneered concepts for been pioneering Materials and Processes by Design. His published work has 4,823 total citations or an average of around 155 citations per paper and have presented over 37 invited talks. He was awarded the 2007 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, which is the the AAAS's oldest and most prestigious award. His recent research about designing new materials for energy conversion was featured in Forbes magazine, CNBC and the Department of Energy (DOE) highlights. Because of graduate and post-graduate studies advisors, Dr. Mendoza-Cortes' academic great grand parents are Marie Curie and Paul Dirac.

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 PhD 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.

Caroline Simpson

Caroline Simpson

Florida International University

About Caroline Simpson

Caroline Simpson is a Professor of Physics at Florida International University, and the Equity Advisor for the College of Arts, Science, and Education. She received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Florida in 1995 and has been faculty at FIU since then. Her research interests include the formation and evolution of dwarf galaxies with a focus on the hydrogen gas from which stars form. She served for eight years on the American Astronomical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy which prepared her for her current role as CASE Equity Advisor. She coordinates with FIU’s Office for the Advancement of Women, Equity, and Diversity and conducts diversity and equity training for faculty hiring committees and tenure and promotion committees at FIU.

Jami Valentine-Miller

Jami Valentine-Miller

U.S. Office of Patents

About Jami Valentine-Miller

Dr. Jami Valentine Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from Florida A & M University and has a master’s degree in physics from Brown University. In 2006 Jami became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from the Johns Hopkins University where she studied the physics behind magneto–electronic materials and devices. From there she joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) where she examines semiconductor patent applications for phase-change memory, nanoscale memory and spintronic devices. Dr. Miller is the founder of African American Women in Physics (AAWIP), Inc., an organization that is dedicated to honoring the women who paved the way, inspiring future physicists and connecting with people interested in promoting diversity in physics and other STEM fields.

Sheri Waddill


University of Central Florida

About Sheri Waddill

Sheri Waddill, LMHC, is a Specialist, Student Counselor at the University of Central Florida. Sheri’s pronouns are She/Her/Hers. She earned a Masters of Arts in Counselor Education from the University of Central Florida, and completed an internship at The Healing Tree Child Advocacy Center. She is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and holds a Marriage and Family certificate. Sheri’s professional interests include autism, females on the spectrum, anxiety, compassion focused therapy, and personal development. A fun fact about her: She likes reading, research and going hiking and camping as much as possible.

Kirsten Wood

Kirsten Wood

Florida International University

About Kirsten Wood

Dr. Kirsten Wood is Associate Director in the Office to Advance Women, Equity & Diversity at Florida International University. A historian by training, she focuses on the social, economic, and political evolution of the early United States. Her research into the ways that race and gender have both produced and masked inequality in the American past fuels her commitment to inclusive equity in higher education.

The American Physical Society National Mentoring Community (NMC) is an effort 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.

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