APS CUWiP Speakers

Professor Patricia Burchat, Stanford University
APS CUWiP Keynote Speaker

Patricia Burchat Patricia Burchat is the Gabilan Professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University. Her research focuses on studies of the Universe at both the smallest and the largest scales, to probe two questions: What is the Universe made of?  What are the laws of physics that govern the constituents of the Universe? She has held a number of leadership positions in experiments at accelerators that probe the elementary particles and the fundamental interactions.  She is now part of a large international team of scientists preparing for analysis of data from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will provide the most extensive census of the Universe to date. She and her collaborators will use these data to investigate the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the cosmological evolution of the Universe.

Patricia Burchat is a “first-gen” high school graduate. She received her Bachelors degree in Engineering Science at University of Toronto in 1981, and her PhD in Physics from Stanford in 1986. She was a postdoc and faculty member at UC Santa Cruz before returning to Stanford as a faculty member in 1995. At Stanford, she has served as Chair of the Physics Department and has been very active in introducing research-based pedagogy in the teaching of physics. She has received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching, and was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. Patricia Burchat has played a leading role in the growth of the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics.
Professor Christine Jones, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
GW CUWiP After Dinner Speaker 
Christine Jones
Christine Jones grew up near Dayton, Ohio. Her mother was a high-school math teacher, her father a PhD chemist. Her 9th-grade math teacher recommended Christine for the Ross summer math program at Ohio State University, where she learned number theory and abstract algebra. Since most students in her high school did not go on to college, her school arranged for students to spend time with someone employed in the area they planned to work in after graduation. Christine was interested in space science and was placed with astronomer Ken Kissell at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In college, Christine worked with physicist Ed Fireman analyzing lunar samples and meteorites, then analyzed X-ray observations from the Uhuru satellite. Christine is now President of the American Astronomical Society and works at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she analyses observations from the Chandra and XMM-Newton missions to better understand how clusters of galaxies evolve over cosmic time.
Nancy Jo Nicholas, Principal Associate Director for Global Security, Los Alamos National Laboratory
GW CUWiP Plenary Speaker
Nancy Jo NicholasNancy Jo Nicholas has worked in the Global Security field at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) since 1990. She was appointed Associate Director for Threat Identification and Response on June 23, 2014. The Directorate is focused on non-proliferation and counter-proliferation R&D associated with weapons of mass destruction; space defense and systems applications, warfighter support, homeland security and intelligence analysis. She was recently elected to the position of Vice Chair of the very active American Nuclear Society (ANS) Trinity Section in New Mexico.  She is also currently serving on the National Academy of Science’s Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board and Intelligence Science and Technology Experts Group. She is a Fellow of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), and recently served a two-year term as president of the INMM, the premiere international professional society for nonproliferation, arms control and international safeguards. She recently served on the on the Board of Directors of WINS – the Vienna-based World Institute for Nuclear Security or WINS, the American Physical Society Panel on Public Affairs study on potential U.S.-Russian Nuclear Reductions After New START, and the Defense Science Board Task Force on the Assessment of Nuclear Treaty Monitoring and Verification Technologies. Her technical field of expertise is nondestructive assay measurements, and she earned a B.S. in Mathematics and Physics from Albright College and a Master’s degree in Experimental Nuclear Physics from George Washington University.
Kawtar Hafidi, Director of Physics, Argonne National Laboratory
GW CUWiP Plenary Speaker
Kawtar HafidiKawtar Hafidi is Argonne National Laboratory’s Director of Physics. Prior to this appointment, Hafidi was the Associate Chief Scientist for Laboratory-Directed Research and Development (LDRD). She is an experimental nuclear physicist with more than 18 years of experience in leading and conducting fundamental research at major accelerator facilities in the United States and Europe. Hafidi had been on detail assignment to the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Nuclear Physics. She was responsible for the management, oversight, and review of instrument and experiment construction projects in the United States and abroad. Hafidi is a fellow of the American Physical Society. She has received numerous awards recognizing her effective advocacy for increased diversity, both at Argonne and within the broader physics community. She is a co-author of more than 140 publications and has given more than 40 invited talks at international conferences, universities, and laboratories. Hafidi’s research focuses on the experimental study of the structure of nucleons and nuclei in terms of their basic constituents, namely quarks and gluons (also called partons) within the framework of the theory of strong interactions. Her work encompasses measurements of nuclear modification effects—three-dimensional imaging of nucleons and nuclei, the mechanisms of “vacuum” confinement, and tests of charge symmetry violations. Hafidi earned her PhD in nuclear physics from the University of Paris XI.
Luz Martinez-Miranda, Associate Professor, University of Maryland
GW CUWiP Plenary Speaker
Luz Martinez-MirandaLuz J. Martínez-Miranda is an associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. She received her BS and MS in Physics from the Universidad de Puerto Rico in Río Piedras and her PhD from MIT. She received her BMus in music performance from the Conservatorio de Música of Puerto Rico. Prof. Martínez-Miranda’s research involves the study of the interaction, both local and long-range, of ordered (smectic) liquid crystals with different nanoparticles. She has been teaching the course on Liquid Crystals, an elective, biannual course, for the department for the last ten years. She has been a visiting professor at the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University, at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, CNRS, in France and at the University of Chile in Santiago. Dr Martínez-Miranda serves in the Executive Committee of the Forum on Education in Physics (FED) of the APS and is a member of the board of the International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS). She served as president of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP). She has served in the CSWP and the COM of the APS and on the board for the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). She is a fellow of the AAAS and the APS, and the winner of the 2014 Edward A. Bouchet Prize of the APS for her research in liquid crystals. 
Julia Browne, Associate Director for Industry Coaching, The George Washington University
GW CUWiP Panelist
Julia Browne

Julia Browne is a career professional with over 18 years of experience in higher education. Currently, she is the Associate Director for Industry Coaching at The George Washington University where she collaborates with the careeer industry teaching team to support students' drive toward achieving their professional goals. A careeer curriculum comprised of career programming and nuanced industry specific coaching are the hallmarks of the Center for Career Services. Previously, Julia spent 15 years at Connecticut College in both coaching and managerial roles working with liberal arts students interested in all industry areas from freshmen year to beyond graduation as alumni. Julia has a BA in political Science and a MS Ed in counseling psychology. She is a Clifton Strengths coach and is also certified in MBTI Step I, II and III. Julia is dedicated to helping students recognize and optimize their professional potential through the development of a goal oriented career plan. 

Sonya B. Merrill, Ph.D, STEM Industry Career Coach, The George Washington University
GW CUWiP Panelist

Sonya Merrill

Dr. Sonya Merrill serves as the STEM Industry Career Coach at The George Washington University Center for Career Services. She focuses on understanding trends in the industry sectors requiring expertise in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in order to help STEM undergraduate and graduate students and alumni acquire advanced career skills and pursue occupational opportunities. Dr. Merrill is an accomplished businesswoman and entrepreneur, certified career management coach, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) Certified Practitioner, trainer/facilitator, mentor, business consultant, organizational strategist, and academician with numerous years of industry sector, federal government, and academic instruction experience. During her expansive career as a corporate officer and managerial professional, she has distinguished herself as a leader of large, high-performing teams and successful organizations. She has served as a visiting professor, lecturer, and adjunct professor in business management, strategy, and international business at several universities in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Dr. Merrill earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration from Temple University's Fox School of Business focusing on business strategy, organizational design and development, and health services administration. Her Masters level education includes topics in civil engineering, urban planning, and the management of information systems.

Elena Long, Assistant Professor, University of New Hampshire
GW CUWiP Panelist

Elena LongDr. Long is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Hampshire. She studies experimental nuclear physics with an emphasis on using spin structure to probe the internal properties of protons and neutrons and to uncover the mechanisms by which quarks come together to form stable atomic nuclei. She is the founder of the organization lgbt+physicists where she hosts an Out List for LGBT and ally physicists and is a co-author of a Best Practices Guide for Academic Departments. Long served on the American Physical Society (APS) Ad Hoc Committee on LGBT Issues (C-LGBT), which released the first rigorous study of the climate for LGBT physicists and made recommendations on making APS more inclusive. She’s currently serving as Deputy Chair on the APS organizing committee for a new Forum on Diversity and Inclusion. She’s also served as Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for oSTEM (Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) where she oversaw the Committees on Women, Racial and Ethnic Diversity, and Transgender and Non-Binary Diversity. Long holds a Ph.D. in physics from Kent State University and is a recipient of the Jefferson Science Associates Promising Young Scientist and Post Doctoral Research Prize, and was featured as one of Nature’s `10 People Who Mattered’ for 2016.

Kristi Beck, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland and Joint Quantum Institute 
GW CUWiP Hot Topics Speaker

Kristi Beck
Kristi Beck is a Joint Quantum Institute Postdoctoral Fellow in the Trapped Ion Quantum Information Group at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland where she is building a prototype quantum computer using trapped atomic ions. Her research interests include the control of quantum systems, laser cooling, quantum-limited measurement and quantum simulation. Kristi received her Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016, her M.Phil from the University of Cambridge as a Churchill Scholar in 2010 and her B.S. in Physics and B.A. in Mathematics from the University of Rochester in 2009

Eleonora Troja, Associate Research Scientist, University of Maryland and NASA Goddard
GW CUWiP Hot Topics Speaker

Eleonora TrojaEleonora Troja is an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, and work primarily at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in the Astrophysics Science Division. She received her PhD in Physics and Astronomy in 2009 from the University of Palermo (Italy) and then moved to the United States to pursue her postdoctoral studies. She was awarded the NASA Postdoctoral Program fellowship to work at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center with Dr. Neil Gehrels. Her research interests lie in the field of time domain astronomy, and include the study of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and exotic transients such as kilonovae and tidal disruption events. Eleonora worked on a variety of different aspects of the GRB phenomenon, although her primary focus is the connection between short duration GRBs, neutron star mergers, and gravitational wave sources.