Lisa DeBeer-Schmitt

Lead Instrument Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Plenary speaker

Lisa DeBeer-Schmitt is a neutron scattering scientist at the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  She attended Georgia Southern University, obtaining a B.S. in Physics, and the University of Notre Dame, where she received her Ph.D. studying the flux-line lattices in unconventional superconductors under her advisor, Morten Eskildsen.  After graduation, she spent two years at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a Post-doctoral fellow on GP-SANS beam line.  During this time her research centered primarily on supporting and building the magnetism community in small-angle neutron scattering.   She was hired as staff in 2011 and has served in various roles, including team lead for sample environment, scientific associate for the SEQUOIA instrument, and presently as point-of-contact for the GPSANS instrument. Her current research aims to probing long-range magnetic order in materials with rich magnetic phase diagrams and structural ordering in other systems with large scale spacings in on or more dimensions using SANS and related techniques. She also serves the neutron scattering community  as Communication Secretary of the Neutron Scattering Society of America.

Guilia Galli

Professor of Chemistry at The University of Chicago

Plenary speaker

Giulia Galli is the Liew Family professor of Electronic Structure and Simulations in the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Chicago. She also holds a Senior Scientist position at Argonne National Laboratory, where she is the director of the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials (http://miccom-center.org/). She holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the International School of Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy and prior to joining UChicago, she was Professor of Chemistry and Physics at UC Davis (2005-2013) and the head of the Quantum Simulations group at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL, 1998-2005). She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her recognitions include the Theory Award from the Materials Research Society, the David Adler Award in Materials Physics from the American Physical Society, the Feynman Nanotechnology Prize in Theory, the Medal of the Schola Physica Romana and the Tomassoni-Chisesi award by La Sapienza University in Italy.  She is an expert in the development of theoretical and computational methods to predict and engineer material and molecular properties from first principles. Her research focuses on problems relevant to the development of sustainable energy sources and quantum technologies (https://galligroup.uchicago.edu/).

Thushari Jayasekera

Director of Physics undergraduate program at SIUC

Plenary speaker

Born and brought up in Sri Lanka, Thushari Jayasekera completed her Bachelors degree in Physics with First Class Honors at University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She moved to USA for higher education.
Dr. Jayasekera completed her MS and PhD in Computational Materials Physics at University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. She further did two postdoctoral studies at Oklahoma State University and North Carolina State University. In 2011, she joined Southern Illinois University Carbondale as an Assistant Professor of Physics.
Dr. Jayasekera continues to do her research in Computational Materials Physics. She has contributed to over 30 research articles. Currently Dr. Jayasekera is the director of Physics undergraduate program at SIUC, where she truly enjoys working closely with students.

Nadya Mason

Professor of Physics at UIUC

Plenary speaker

Nadya Mason is a Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Director of the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. Her research focuses on experimental studies of electron behavior in low-dimensional materials, which is relevant to applications involving nano-scale, quantum electronic elements. Dr. Mason is committed to increasing diversity in the physical sciences, especially through mentoring, and also works to improve science communication.

Jacquelyn Noronha-Hostler

Assistant Professor of Physics at UIUC

Farewell & closing remarks

Dr. Jacquelyn Noronha-Hostler's work focuses on simulating the primordial liquid the Quark Gluon Plasma that existed microseconds after the Big Bang and studying the interior of neutron stars. She finished her PhD in Theoretical Physics at the Goethe University in Frankfurt in 2010. Following her PhD, she was a postdoctoral fellows at the University of Sao Paulo, Columbia University, and University of Houston. From 2017-2019 she was an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University. In 2019 she joined the faculty at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign as an Assistant Professor. She is currently on the executive committee for the American Physical Society's Division of Nuclear Physics and was previously on the RHIC & AGS User's Executive Committee. She received the 2018 Alfred P Sloan Fellowship, the 2018 Department of Energy Early Career Award, is one of the co-founders of the MUSES collaboration where she is the cyberinfrastructure convener.

Smitha Vishveshwara

Professor of Physics at UIUC

Welcome speaker

Smitha Vishveshwara is a quantum condensed matter physicist who explores diverse realms including those of superconductivity, nanomaterials, out-of-equilibrium behavior, proteins, and black holes. Her career path led her to the East and West coasts, and finally to Urbana-Champaign as a faculty member in the Physics department. She now collaboratively combines her passion for physics and the arts through creating theater, music, dance, and other work on the quantum world and the cosmos.

Katherine Seguino

Science Department Chair at Naperville Central High School

STEP UP for physics speaker

Katherine Seguino is the Science Department Chair and physics teacher at Naperville Central High School. Additionally, she teaches two independent research programs for her students: Quarknet which is a high energy physics program to track behaviors of muons in conjunction with Fermilab and another affiliated with Argonne using Synchrotron X-ray Scanning Tunneling Microscopy to study Perovskite solar panel materials. She is the sponsor of GEMS-Girl Engineers, Mathematicians & Scientists at NCHS. She is also an Ambassador for the STEP UP program for AAPT that is aimed at encouraging more women to pursue physics degrees. She earned a BS in both Physics and Math, MA in education, and is currently finishing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at DePaul University.

Nina Bielinski

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

I am a third year graduate student at UIUC working in Fahad Mahmood's group doing experimental condensed matter research. In this group I use an angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) system to mainly study magnetic topological insulator systems. I have a bachelor's in physics and mathematics from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where I did four years of research growing and characterizing cuprate superconductors.

Lance Cooper

Associate Head for Graduate Programs of Physics at UIUC

Lance Cooper is a condensed matter experimentalist and the Associate Head for Graduate Programs in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is currently the chair of the Illinois Physics graduate admissions committee, co-PI on the Illinois Sloan University Center for Exemplary Mentoring -- which aims to broaden participation of underrepresented PhD students in STEM departments -- and the site leader for the Illinois Physics APS Bridge Partnership Program.

Sarah Hagen

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Sarah is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Physics at UIUC. She received undergraduate degrees in Physics and French from SIU Carbondale. She served as president of her school's SPS chapter and spent her final year studying at the National Institute for Applied Sciences Lyon in France. Sarah's research interests lie in theoretical quantum information science.

Devyn Shafer

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Devyn Shafer is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research is in physics education, focusing on student transitions from high school to college engineering programs and high school physics teacher professional development.

Sarah Hagen

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Sarah is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Physics at UIUC. She received undergraduate degrees in Physics and French from SIU Carbondale. She served as president of her school's SPS chapter and spent her final year studying at the National Institute for Applied Sciences Lyon in France. Sarah's research interests lie in theoretical quantum information science.

Pamela Pena Martin

I-MRSEC Outreach Coordinator at UIUC

Pam has been the Outreach Coordinator and Research Experiences for Undergraduates program coordinator for the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center since 2018. She holds a BS in Physics from Youngstown State University, and a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UIUC. She participated in a Physics REU program at Penn State when she was an undergraduate, and is thrilled to coordinate an REU program now!

Karmela Padavic-Callaghan

Science Writer and Educator at Bard High School Early College Manhattan

Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Ph.D. is a science writer and educator. She teaches physics and mathematics courses at Bard High School Early College and has written for popular science outlets such as WIRED, Scientific American, Quanta Magazine, Physics World and New Scientist. She earned her Ph. D. from UIUC in 2019, studying ultracold atoms and condensed matter theory with a focus on novel Bose-Einstein condensate geometries and quasiperiodicity. Karmela lives in Brooklyn, NY and when she is not teaching or writing she is a committed runner and a vegan cook.

Celia Elliott

Academic Professional at UIUC

Celia Mathews Elliott is an academic professional in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has extensive experience in scientific publishing and research administration. She has taught principles of effective scientific and technical communications to advanced physics undergraduates and graduate students since 2000.

Kelly Searsmith

Technical Research Writer at UIUC

Kelly Searsmith, Ed.M. (Higher Education), Ph.D. (English), provides faculty writing services and grants administration for Physics Illinois. In the 30+ years she has taught writing at the college level, she has helped hundreds of students to improve their academic application and professional job search materials.

Nina Bielinski

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

I am a third year graduate student at UIUC working in Fahad Mahmood's group doing experimental condensed matter research. In this group I use an angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) system to mainly study magnetic topological insulator systems. I have a bachelor's in physics and mathematics from University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where I did four years of research growing and characterizing cuprate superconductors.

Jessica Montone

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

I am a fourth year graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I study experimental Condensed Matter physics in the Van Harlingen research group. My research tasks involve nanofabrication and low temperature measurement of superconducting devices.

Chloe Richards

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Hi, I’m Chloe! I am a first year graduate student working in the Witek group on numerical relativity. On a typical day, you can find me going for a walk, playing with the Einstein toolkit, and working on problems sets with classmates.

Devyn Shafer

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Devyn Shafer is a fifth-year doctoral candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her research is in physics education, focusing on student transitions from high school to college engineering programs and high school physics teacher professional development.

Danielle Woods

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Danielle is a third-year graduate student working in Elizabeth Goldschmidt's group at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Our group explores rare-earth AMO for applications in Quantum Information, and they fabricate and study rare-earth quantum devices. 

Gabriela E. Vargas

Academic Professional at UIUC

Gabriela E. Vargas, M.S., is an Academic Professional at the Graduate College at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. In her role as Research Programs Coordinator, Gabriela oversees various initiatives focused on supporting the recruitment and retention of graduate students while providing pathways to graduate education for minoritized undergraduates. These retention programs support and promote sustainable learning environments for graduate students and center an intersectional understanding of students' lived experiences and their academic, social, and cultural needs. She advises and helps undergraduate, doctoral, and master’s students build community and demystify graduate education's role in attaining their educational and career aspirations.

Laura Aumen

Licensed Medical Physicist

Laura is a board-certified diagnostic medical physicist in the Dallas area.  She is also working toward certification in nuclear medicine physics from the American Board of Radiology.  She conducted research on occupational exposure in interventional radiology while earning an M.S. in Medical Physics at Creighton University.  Her alma mater is the University of Dallas, where she earned a B.S. in Physics with an astronomy-related thesis.  She enjoys baking and traveling with her husband, and was overjoyed to welcome a baby girl in October.

Zheng Feng Lu

Professor of Radiology at The University of Chicago

Zheng Feng Lu, PhD, DABR, FAAPM is a Professor of Radiology and a Clinical Diagnostic Physicist at the University of Chicago. She was born and raised in Mainland, China. She received BS in Acoustics from Nanjing University in 1986, MS in Underwater Acoustic from Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1989, and PhD in Medical Physics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1994. From 1994 to 2011, she was a faculty member in the Department of Radiology at Columbia University. She became ABR board certified in Diagnostic Radiological Physics in 1997. She joined the Department of Radiology at the University of Chicago in 2011, where she is the Section Chief of Clinical Physics and the Program Director of the Residency Program in Clinical Imaging Medical Physics. She serves as a US expert at the IEC Technical Committee 87 Working Group 9 on ultrasound pulse-echo diagnostic equipment. She also serves on various committees in American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM).

Ujaan Purakayastha

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Ujaan is from Kolkata, India. He graduated from UChicago in 2020 with a B.A. in Physics and a B.S. in Mathematics. He is now a graduate student in the Physics department at UIUC, researching quantum optics and information with Paul Kwiat.

Marty Baylor

Chair of Physics and Astronomy at Carleton College

Martha-Elizabeth "Marty" Baylor completed a BA in physics from Kenyon College, taught middle and high school at the Maret School in Washington DC, worked as an optical engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and completed a PhD in Physics and a postdoc in electrical engineering at CU-Boulder. She is currently an associate professor of Physics and department chair at Carleton College. She works with photo-sensitive plastics to make integrated optofluidic devices and loves whitewater rafting his her spare time. She has a passion for liberal arts teaching and infusing diversity, equity, and inclusion in her courses as a natural part of what it means to do physics.

Karmela Padavic-Callaghan

Science Writer and Educator at Bard High School Early College Manhattan

Karmela Padavic-Callaghan, Ph.D. is a science writer and educator. She teaches physics and mathematics courses at Bard High School Early College and has written for popular science outlets such as WIRED, Scientific American, Quanta Magazine, Physics World and New Scientist. She earned her Ph. D. from UIUC in 2019, studying ultracold atoms and condensed matter theory with a focus on novel Bose-Einstein condensate geometries and quasiperiodicity. Karmela lives in Brooklyn, NY and when she is not teaching or writing she is a committed runner and a vegan cook.

Katherine Seguino

Science Department Chair at Naperville Central High School

Katherine Seguino is the Science Department Chair and physics teacher at Naperville Central High School. Additionally, she teaches two independent research programs for her students: Quarknet which is a high energy physics program to track behaviors of muons in conjunction with Fermilab and another affiliated with Argonne using Synchrotron X-ray Scanning Tunneling Microscopy to study Perovskite solar panel materials. She is the sponsor of GEMS-Girl Engineers, Mathematicians & Scientists at NCHS. She is also an Ambassador for the STEP UP program for AAPT that is aimed at encouraging more women to pursue physics degrees. She earned a BS in both Physics and Math, MA in education, and is currently finishing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at DePaul University.

Elizabeth Goldschmidt

Assistant Professor of Physics at UIUC

Elizabeth Goldschmidt is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where she runs an experimental research group focusing on quantum optics and quantum information. She received her bachelors in physics from Harvard University in 2006 and her doctorate in physics from the University of Maryland in 2014, where her graduate research focused on single photon technologies and optical quantum memory. She was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology from 2014-2016 where she studied ultracold and Rydberg excited atoms in optical lattices for quantum simulation. She was a staff scientist at the US Army Research Laboratory studying quantum optics in solid-state systems before joining the UIUC faculty in the fall of 2019.

Rebecca Holmes Sandoval

Physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory

Rebecca Holmes Sandoval is a scientist in the Intelligence & Space Research division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She received her PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2017. Since coming to Los Alamos as a postdoc, she has applied her background in quantum optics to optical remote sensing with single-photon cameras, including aurora research in Alaska and helping keep track of CubeSats in orbit. Rebecca loves living in beautiful northern New Mexico with her family.

Nicki Mullins

Graduate Student at UIUC

Nicki Mullins is a second year graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on the study of relativistic hydrodynamics and its application to heavy ion collisions and the quark-gluon plasma. Particularly, he is attempting to study relativistic hydrodynamics with large fluctuations as a way to model phase transitions in the quantum chromodynamics equation of state.

Kristen Schumacher

Physics Graduate Student at UIUC

Kristen is a third year graduate student in the UIUC physics department. She studies modified theories of gravity with the Illinois Relativity Group and has started an outreach project using virtual reality to teach students about general relativity. Her specific research focus is on constraining modified theories of gravity with gravitational wave data.

Jessie Shelton

Associate Professor of Physics at UIUC

Jessie Shelton studies theoretical particle physics beyond the Standard Model, with an emphasis on developing new ways to understand and detect signatures of very weakly-coupled particles.  She did her PhD at MIT with Washington Taylor following undergraduate work at Princeton.  After postdoctoral positions at Rutgers, Yale, and Harvard, she joined the UIUC faculty in 2014. 

Casey Moore

Academic Professional at UIUC

Casey is an Academic Advisor and Coordinator for Transfer Programs for The Grainger College of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She began her college career at John A. Logan College before transferring to Southern Bachelor's in Marketing and Master's in Higher Education. As a former transfer student, Casey has a passion for helping students prepare for and navigate the transfer process.

Celia Elliott

Academic Professional at UIUC

Celia Mathews Elliott is an academic professional in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has extensive experience in scientific publishing and research administration. She has taught principles of effective scientific and technical communications to advanced physics undergraduates and graduate students since 2000.