Alumni Class Notes 2014

December 01, 2014

Phil Brinkman, MA ’74: I have worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation since 1973, first for the Federal Highway Administration leading research efforts to develop improved methodologies for evaluating highway safety and, since 1988, with an office now in the Federal Aviation Administration responsible for regulating the commercial space transportation industry to ensure public safety.

Derek Jones, BA ’11: Derek recently completed his MFA in lighting design from Indiana University in May 2014. Since then, he has been a lighting designer based in Washington, D.C., working at venues such as the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage. In December, he will begin a designer position at Vortex Lighting, an architectural lighting design company specializing in hospitality and themed environments based in Los Angeles, Calif. Derek's design portfolio may be seen at

Brandon Minor, BS ’13: I started a PhD program at GW in autonomous robotics. I transferred to CU Boulder this summer, following my advisor Professor Sibley. Two months ago, I left the PhD program entirely to focus my efforts on developing Replica Labs, the company I co-founded. Replica Labs hopes to popularize 3D scanning on mobile phones for a variety of applications. Pursuing the company is a great use of my education and skills.

Silvia Niccolai, PhD ’03: I moved from my native Italy to enroll in a PhD at GW in 1999. I had my PhD graduation in February 2003 in the GW Physics Department. My advisor was the late Professor Berman. The title of my PhD thesis was "Three-body photo-disintegration of 3He measured with CLAS." Since then, I moved to Paris, France, first working as a post-doc (at CEA Saclay and then at the Institute de Physique Nucleaire d'Orsay - IPN). Then, I was hired (October 2006) as a permanent staff researcher at IPN Orsay. I have been working there since, doing research based at Jefferson Lab to study the structure of the nucleon. While doing this, I got married and had twins, a boy and girl who are now almost 5-years-old.

Wallace Yater, BS ’62: I went to G.W from 1956-1962. From 1958-1961, I was a technician in physics and made a lot of the apparatus for the student labs and lecture demonstrations. Over the decades this has gradually dwindled until now nearly none of it can be found any longer. I worked under George Koehl, who was dean of the Columbian College at that time. Professor Bill Parke, who has recently retired, was a close friend. After 1962, I was at the U. S. Navy's David Taylor Model Basin for several years, working in their underwater submarine noise program. For next seven years, I was intermittently at the U. S. Geological Survey's Water Resources Division. In 1972, I moved to a rural area west of Frederick, Md., and focused on mostly architectural custom wood and metal craftsmen's work, most of which still survives. Of these pieces, the Japanese style torii gate in Glen Echo Park is the most easily accessible item of my work in the D.C. area. As you can tell, my efforts didn't do a whole lot to advance our basic understanding of nature, as the work of any self-respecting physicist should, but they might have been of some minor help to a few students and teachers along the way.