2009 M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship Recipients

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Gray Arrow About the M. Hildred Blewett Fellowship

Klejda Bega
Columbia University
New York, New York

Klejda BegaKlejda Bega is a post-doctoral associate at Columbia University, New York. She will work to develop a novel approach to creating ultracold diatomic molecules in optical lattices at microKelvin temperatures, and to conduct precise measurements with these molecules.

Bega, a native of Albania, earned both her PhD (2004) and BS (1999) at California Institute of Technology. “Ever since I read a biography of Marie Curie when I was nine years old,” she says, “I dreamed of becoming a physicist.”  When Albania came out of isolation behind the Iron Curtain,  it became possible for her to apply to foreign universities, and she studied at CalTech. Her graduate work took place at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where she participated in an experiment measuring parity violation in electron-electron scattering.

Klejda's career took a detour when, in order to support aging family members, she worked as a management consultant.  Last year, she was finally able to initiate her return to physics and joined a group at Columbia studying the physics of ultracold atoms and molecules.  The Blewett scholarship will allow her to complete her postdoctoral work and eventually obtain a research position in experimental Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics.

Janice Wynn Guikema
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

Janice Wynn GuikemaJanice Wynn Guikema, an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, will expand her research on graphene for use as a magnetic field sensor and use scanning probe microscopy to better understand graphene.

After following her husband as his career flourished and having two children, the scholarship and its renewal have allowed her to pursue her own goals of becoming a respected researcher. “The continued funding will help me more firmly establish my research career and maintain momentum after having the [second] baby,” she says.

Guikema received her BS from Cornell University in 1998 and her PhD from Stanford University in 2004. She was awarded a previous Blewett Scholarship in 2008.



Marija Nikolic-Jaric
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Marija Nikolic-JaricMarija Nikolic-Jaric, a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, works in the field of biomicrofluidics, with the support of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. She will use the award to build on her work there, to improve the detection and classification of biological cells by investigating fundamental aspects of the effects of shear-induced rotation of aspherical particles in the non-uniform electric field.

Nikolic-Jaric received her BSc from the University of Belgrade in 1990 and her PhD from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 2008. While working on her PhD at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, her husband, also a physicist, was diagnosed with a rare and terminal brain cancer shortly before her thesis defense. His illness and, ultimately, tragic and untimely death, put her career temporarily on hold, to care for their toddler son.

"It is amazing,” she says, “ how complete is the delusion that dropping out of physics for family reasons is a choice that women make easily and readily. By recognizing the obstacles awaiting women who want to return to research after the break and offering to help, the Blewett Scholarship validates and legitimizes the experiences and career paths that are outside of mainstream. I am proud to be a part of something like that and hope that in the future I will be given an opportunity to work with the Committee to inspire and allow other women in physics to make the most of their lives."