APS Bridge Program

Speaker Bios & Abstracts

Brian Beckford

BeckfordBrian Beckford is the Bridge Program Manager in the department of Education and Diversity for the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. The program focuses on increasing the number of physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority (URM) students, including African American, Hispanic American, and Native American students.

Prior to coming to APS, Beckford was granted a Ph.D. in nuclear physics at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, and received M.S. and B.S. degrees in physics from Florida International University. He was awarded the Tohoku University Super Doctor Fellowship to study in Japan.

His research interests are strangeness nuclear physics, primarily in the photoproduction of neutral kaons and Λ, as well as hypernuclear physics.


Adam Burgasser

BurgasserAdam Burgasser is an Associate Professor at UC San Diego and an observational astrophysicist investigating the lowest mass stars, coldest brown dwarfs, and exoplanets. His research employs a variety of ground-based and space-based resources to research the atmospheric properties and processes of these objects, identify and characterize low-mass multiple systems, investigate magnetic activity, and use brown dwarf populations to study the Milky Way system. He also conducts education research on integrating creative, artistic and embodied practices into Physics learning. Adam has been engaged in improving representation and inclusion in Physics and Astronomy, as chair of the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy and as a member of the California Professoriate for Access to Physics Careers (CPAPC). In 2014, he was awarded both the Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action and Diversity Award and Mentor of the Year Award at UCSD for his diversity, outreach and mentoring work.

Abstract: Physics GRE Boot Camps: Giving a Diverse Cadre of California Students the Edge in Graduate Applications
Recent studies have demonstrated that underrepresented groups score on average lower on this exam despite equivalent preparation, yet despite the recommendations of the Education Testing Service, many department continue to enforce minimum score requirements for graduate applicants. While we work to address policy issues, the California Professoriate for Access to Physics Careers (CPAPC), a consortium of faculty from 26 UC and CSU Physics Departments, have been hosting semiannual GRE Boot Camps in both Northern and Southern California sites since 2011, funded primarily by the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies.  The camps draw a diverse group of up to 80 students, particularly from CSUs; and underrepresented students are provided free lodging. Student participants develop test-taking strategies, learn about graduate programs and admissions criteria, and hear from CSU and UC faculty about research opportunities in diverse Physics fields.  In this talk I will discuss the structure of the Boot Camps and student outcomes, and argue for various funding models of such regional camps. Links related to the presentation (with photos):CPAPC, CPAPC Boot Camp


David Ernst

ErnstDavid Ernst received his S.B. in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1970 from MIT. He has held faculty/research positions at the Centro de Investigacion y des Estudios Avanzados del I.P.N. (Mexico), Case Western Reserve University, Texas A&M University, and Vanderbilt University. He has held visiting positions at the University of Washington, the University of Frankfurt (Germany), and the Jefferson Laboratory. He has been a consultant at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He works in nuclear theory, for many years in the area of intermediate energy nuclear theory mostly involved with data from the Los Alamos Meson Physics Facility, and most recently in the area of the phenomenology of neutrino oscillations.

He has been very active in outreach focused on increasing diversity in physics and related fields. He is a co-founder and long term member of the Fisk/Vanderbilt Master's to PhD Bridge Program, is a co-founder, many year secretary, and has passed through the presidential line of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, and is a Fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists. He has received awards for his outreach work from the American Physical Society, the Southeast Section of the American Physical Society, the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, as well as three awards from Vanderbilt University.


Edward Helm

ErnstAfter earning his B.S. in Psychology from Minnesota State University, Mankota, Minn., Dr. Helm completed his pre-med studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago in 1972. In 1976, Dr. Helm received his M.D. from Chicago Medical School. His internship and first year of residency was performed at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Helm completed his General Surgery Residency at the Ochsner Clinic in 1981. After completing his general surgery residency, Dr. Helm joined the faculty of LSU School of Medicine in 1981. Presently, he is Professor of Surgery (Tenured). Dr. Helm has served as Chief of Surgery at New Orleans General Hospital and Vice Chairman of Surgery at University Hospital (Hotel Dieu Hospital). He has been a member of the State of Louisiana Trauma Task Force and is presently the Medical Director of Outpatient Surgery, Elective Surgery and the GI Unit for the Medical Center of Louisiana in New Orleans (Charity and University Hospitals). Dr. Helm has been instrumental in establishing our Endoscopic and Laparoscopic Programs. The section of Surgical Endoscopy was the first section established within LSU Department of Surgery in 15 years. He continues to serve as its inaugural chief. He has trained LSU staff surgeons and provided basic and advanced laparoscopic courses for training surgeons throughout the State of Louisiana.

In 1981, Dr. Helm was named Coordinator of Community and Minority Health Education at the LSU Medical Center. In 1987, he was appointed Assistant Dean and in 1996 he was appointed Associate Dean of Community and Minority Health Education. From 1985 to 1990 and again in 2003, he served as a HRSA grant reviewer and a member of the National Advisor Council of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Helm has also served as the Group on Student Affairs/ Minority Affairs Section Chair of the Southern Region of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC); and as a member of the Coordinating Committee of the AAMC. He has also served as Chair of the Southern Region of the National Association of Medical Minority Educators (NAMME). Dr. Helm is also a founding member of the National Association of Advisors for Health Professions. Dr. Helm received his Masters in Health Systems Management (MHA) from Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 1999.

Dr. Helm has been the recipient of numerous service and achievement awards. Some of these awards include the following: In 1983, Dr. Helm received the Cook County Physician’s Association Certificate of Appreciation for Outstanding and Dedicated Services. In 1994, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) honored him for Outstanding Performance in Medical Education. The award for service in the Health Profession and Commitment to Higher Learning was presented to Dr. Helm in 1995 by Loyola University of New Orleans. State of Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards presented him with the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Medical Education in 1994. Dr. Helm is the recipient of the 2004 Dedication to the Field of Medicine and Service to the Community Award from the New Orleans Medical Association. In 2004, he also received an award for Outstanding Dedication to the Health and Well-being of the Community from the Senate of the Louisiana Legislature. In April 2007, Dr. Helm received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from Minnesota State University. In November, 2007 Dr. Helm received the AAMC’s most prestigious honor made to an individual who has provided substantial contributions to medical education. Aside from being the recipient of numerous awards, Dr. Helm has been involved in research, is the author of numerous articles, and he is the recipient of greater than $8.5 million dollars in NIH and HRSA grant awards. He remains dedicated to the medical education of minority and disadvantaged students. Dr. Helm’s unwavering commitment to increasing access and improving the quality of health care to everyone is an inspiration to all of us.


Theodore Hodapp

HodappTheodore Hodapp is the Director of Education and Diversity for the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. The APS Department of Education and Diversity runs programs that advocate issues relevant to minorities and women, and in areas of education and careers. Hodapp is Project Director of the APS Bridge Program, and also helps lead a large NSF and APS-funded national effort, the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), which seeks to improve the quality and quantity of high school physics teachers.

Before coming to the APS, Hodapp served as Program Director in the National Science Foundation's Division of Undergraduate Education, working with programs in curriculum development and implementation, teacher preparation, scholarships, education assessment and the digital libraries.

Prior to coming to the NSF, Hodapp was professor and chair of the Hamline University Physics Department in St. Paul, Minnesota. He served as chair of the Physics and Astronomy Division of the Council on Undergraduate Research, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. His research interests include laser cooling, optical modeling, and physics education research.


Vivian Incera

Vivian Incera is a Professor of Physics and the Dr. C. Sharp Cook Chair in Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso. She received her BS in Physics from Havana University, Cuba, in 1976 and a PhD in Theoretical Physics from the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow, Russia, in 1988. After a postdoctoral appointment at the Lebedev Institute, she immigrated to the U.S. and in 1993 was appointed as Assistant Professor at SUNY-Fredonia, where she was later on tenured and promoted to Associate and Full Professor. In 2005, she was recruited as the Physics Chair at Western Illinois University. In 2009, she was appointed as the new Chair of the Physics Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. Under her leadership the UTEP physics department experienced a deep transformation that led to significant improvement in research funding and faculty productivity, the development of new concentrations and programs, and a jump in the physics majors' enrollment from 15 to over 110. During the five and a half years she has spent at UTEP, she has been actively involved in developing initiatives to foster the success of underrepresented students in physics. This past December, she stepped down from her Chair position to focus her efforts on her research and mentoring projects, as well as on growing an innovative physics bridge program that she developed in collaboration with various research institutions. This bridge initiative has already placed several UTEP physics graduates in competitive Physics PhD programs across the nation.

Incera is an expert in Quantum Field Theory under Extreme Conditions. Her research has often crossed the formal lines of different areas spanning the interface of high-energy physics, astrophysics and condensed matter. Currently, she is studying the phases of QCD under extreme conditions and their implications for neutron stars and heavy-ion collision experiments. Her research has been continuously funded by grants from NSF and DOE.

Abstract: Not a Consolation, but a Consolidation
At UTEP we have developed a comprehensive initiative to deal with the main issues that prevent underrepresented students to pursue and obtain a PhD in Physics. In this discussion I will discuss how a master in physics program, when backed up by a group of committed mentors, can serve to strengthen the preparation and to build the self-confidence of URM students to successfully bridge them to highly competitive PhD programs.


Anthony Johnson

JohnsonAnthony M. Johnson has been the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR) and Professor of Physics and Computer Science & Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) since 2003. He received a B.S. in Physics (1975) from Polytechnic Institute of New York and a PhD in Physics (1981) from City College of the City University of New York. His PhD thesis research was conducted at AT&T Bell Laboratories with support from the Cooperative Research Fellowship Program for Minorities. He was a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in the Photonic Circuits Research Department at Bell Labs where he spent 14 years before joining New Jersey Institute of Technology (1995), where he was Chairperson and Distinguished Professor of Physics until 2003. Current research interests include the ultrafast photophysics and nonlinear optical properties of bulk, nanoscale, and quantum well semiconductor structures, ultrashort pulse propagation in fibers and high-speed lightwave systems. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Physical Society (APS) [94-97], the IEEE Photonics Society [93-95], the Optical Society of America (OSA) [93-96 & 00-03] and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) [02-08] He served as 2002 President of the OSA; Editor-in-Chief of Optics Letters (95- 01); member of the DOE Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee [BESAC] (99-08); member of the NRC/NAS Committee on AMO2010: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Science (05-06); and member (05-08) and Chair (09-10) of the IEEE Photonics Society Fellows Evaluation Committee. Currently, Deputy Director of the NSF Engineering Research Center MIRTHE (Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment); Member-at-Large (09- 14) of the National Academies US Liaison Committee for the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP); member, NRC Committee on Atomic, Molecular Sciences [CAMOS] (13-15); Founding Member of the Editorial Board of Physical Review X (11-14); member, Executive Board of the APS Council (2013-2014), APS Publication Oversight Committee and Executive Committee of the APS Division of Laser Science and National Advisory Board Member of the APS Bridge Program. He is a Fellow of the APS, OSA, IEEE, AAAS and the National Society of Black Physicists. Awards include the 1996 APS Edward A. Bouchet Award.

Abstract: Role of APS in Promoting Diversity in Physics
The APS has had a role in promoting diversity in Physics for several decades. My personal involvement began in 1992 when I served a two-year term as Chair of the Committee on Minorities (COM) in Physics. That same year I led a COM delegation to the University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP) on my first APS Climate for Minorities Site Visit — an eye opening experience, indicative of strong APS support for diversity in Physics. My quest for a PhD in Physics and research career in Optical Physics had its origins in the 1974 Bell Laboratories Summer Research Program for Minorities and Women (SRP) and the Bell Laboratories Cooperative Research Fellowship Program (CRFP). These highly successful programs were the basis for 2009 APS President and former Bell Labs Vice President, Cherry Murray to pursue a program under the auspices of the APS, to increase the number of Physics PhDs awarded to underrepresented minority (URM) students — now, the NSF supported APS Bridge Program, which is off to a great start! Other APS Programs that promote diversity in Physics include: the Minority Scholarship Program; Travel Grants for Minority Colloquium Speakers; the CSWP and COM Gazette Newsletter; Minority Physicist Profiles; the APS/IBM Research Internship for URM Students (modelled after the Bell Labs SRP); and the Edward A. Bouchet Award to name a few. As a beneficiary of the early Affirmative Action/Diversity programs at Bell Laboratories, I believe that I have a fairly unique perspective from which to comment on the role of APS in promoting diversity in Physics.


Kate Kirby

KirbyKirby earned her bachelor's degree in chemistry and physics from Harvard/Radcliffe College in 1967 and her PhD from the University of Chicago in 1972. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard College Observatory (1972-73), she was appointed as Research Physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Lecturer in the Harvard University Department of Astronomy (1973-1986 and 2003-2009). She was also a Senior Research Fellow of the Harvard College Observatory. From 1988 to 2001, she served as an Associate Director at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, heading the Atomic and Molecular Physics Division. In 2001, she was appointed Director of the National Science Foundation-funded Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP).

Her research interests lie in theoretical atomic and molecular physics, particularly the calculation of atomic and molecular processes important in astrophysics and atmospheric physics. In 1990, she was elected to Fellowship in the APS. Among her other activities: serving on the Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee (2003-2008) and as co-chair of the BESAC Subcommittee on Theory and Computation. She has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Decadal Assessment Committee for Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Science (AMO2010), and Chair of the International Conference on Photonic, Electronic, and Atomic Collisions (2001-2003).


Cagliyan Kurdak

KurdakCagliyan Kurdak received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, in 1988, and the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, in 1995. He joined the faculty with the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in 1998, after working as a post-doctoral scientist at the Physics Department, University of California, Berkeley. His current research interests include the study of electrical properties of low-dimensional electron systems. Prof. Kurdak is currently serving as the Director of the Applied Physics Program, University of Michigan, and he is the founder of the Imes-Moore Fellowship Program, a bridge program designed to prepare students for doctoral studies in Applied Physics.

Abstract: Developing a Bridge Program: Cultivating Relationships Between Institutions
During the past two decades, the Applied Physics Program at the UM has established strong ties with many minority serving institutions (MSI) including Hampton University, Morehouse College, Norfolk State University, Dillard University, Florida International University (FIU), and Southern University. Since the launching of the Imes-Moore program, to strengthen and expand our connections with the MSIs, Prof. Kurdak has visited FIU, FAMU, Dillard, Xavier, and University of Texas El Paso. Our visit to FIU was most productive, as we were able to meet with about 30 students; and so far we have recruited 4 excellent students from this institution. Prof. Kurdak will talk about the importance of maintaining strong ties with such institutions for the growth of the bridge program. 


Sheila Lange

LangeDr. Sheila Edwards Lange was appointed vice president for minority affairs and vice provost for diversity at the University of Washington effective July 1, 2007.

Dr. Lange has a wide array of experience in higher education administration and has been a force for diversity at the UW. She has helped develop creative faculty recruitment initiatives and has been active in mentoring students, especially in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In addition to student programming, Dr. Lange oversees the Office for Faculty Advancement whose role is to ensure that the UW recruits, promotes and retains an excellent and diverse faculty. She is the project manager for an alliance between colleges in Washington, Oregon and Idaho that work collaboratively to increase the number of underrepresented students earning degrees in STEM.

Dr. Lange received a doctorate from the UW in educational leadership and policy studies and a master's degree in public administration. She holds a bachelor's degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine.

She is a charter member of the National Association of Chief Diversity Officers and a member of the Women in Engineering and Program Advocates Network (WEPAN), the Association for the Study of Higher Education, the American Educational Research Association, and the Association for Institutional Research. Her civic and community engagement include serving on the boards of the Alliance for Education, the Seattle Art Museum and membership in many other local organizations.

Dr. Lange was the recipient of the UW's 2005 Diversity Award for Community Building in recognition of her work as a community activist and advocate for diversity in higher education. In 2011, she was named a Woman of Influence by the Puget Sound Business Journal. In 2013, Dr. Lange was honored for her extraordinary long-term service to WEPAN with the organization Founder's Award. She also received the 2013 UW College of Education Distinguished Graduate Award.

Abstract: Plenary: Importance of MS for PhD Transitions for URMS
This session will focus on the results of a study to examine the role of the master's degree in doctoral education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented groups. Secondary data analysis of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) was used to examine institutional pathways to the doctorate in STEM disciplines and transitions from master's to doctoral programs by race and gender. Findings indicate that compared to White and Asian American students, URM students take significantly different pathways to the doctorate; and that earning a master's degree is more often a stepping stone to the doctorate for URM students. The session explores how master's degree programs can be a valuable resource for policymakers and graduate programs seeking to increase the diversity of URM students earning doctorates in STEM.


Susan Lea

LeaDr. Susan Lea is Professor and Department Chair in the department of Physics and Astronomy at San Francisco State University. She received Bachelor's and master's degrees in Mathematics from Cambridge University, and a Ph.D in Astronomy from the University of California Berkeley. Her research interests are in theoretical astrophysics and physics education. She is the author of two textbooks: "Physics: the nature of things" and "Mathematics for Physicists".


 


Aristides Marcano

MarcanoAristides Marcano received his Master Degree with honors in Physics and Mathematics from the Moscow State University M. V. Lomonosov in 1977, in Moscow, Russia, and the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Physics and Mathematics from the same University in 1980. Since 1980 till February 2006 he worked as a Research Scientist at the Venezuelan Institution of Scientific Research in Caracas, Venezuela. In February 2006, Dr. Marcano joined the Applied Optics Center and the Department of Physics and Engineering at the Delaware State University (DSU) as a Research Associate Professor. Dr. Marcano is CO-PI of the National Science Foundation CREST grant aimed at foundation and further development of the Center for Research and Education in Optical Sciences and Applications (CREOSA) at DSU. Dr. Marcano has published over 130 scientific papers in different topics of Applied Optics, Laser Spectroscopy and Nonlinear Optics. His main areas of interest are photo-thermal induced phenomena, Z-scan measurement for characterization of nonlinearities in optical materials, optical and laser application in live sciences and development of high sensitivity optical fiber detectors. Dr. Marcano is currently the Chair of the Department of Physics and Engineering.

Abstract: Master of Science in Physics and Applied Optics as a Step to the Doctoral Degree at Delaware State University: Experience with Underrepresented Minorities
We discuss the current and future Master of Science programs of the Department of Physics and Engineering and Delaware State University and their role in preparation of underrepresented minorities for PhD studies in Physics. Based on previous experiences we identify the factors limiting the numbers of minority students receiving PhD degree in Physics in our university. We also discuss the role of the Master of Science programs to reduce the effect of these limiting factors.


David Meketon

MeketonDavid Meketon has served in numerous roles in the School District of Philadelphia including Student Support Coordinator, Dean of Students, and Assistant Principal at the J.R. Masterman High School. He has taught philosophy, English, and history. He has been the recipient of a number of awards including: The Rose Lindenbaum Improvement of Education Teacher Award, Finalist in the School District of Philadelphia Teacher of the Year Recognition and, was a Fulbright Teacher Exchange Fellow.

Meketon has also served as a facilitator with “A Gathering of Men” a community based anti-recidivism initiative in the Pennsylvania State Correction System. He serves on the board of Reconstruction Incorporated, a capacity building organization for rebuilding communities. He has also served as a campaign manager for a state-wide political campaign.

He currently works as the school based research liaison with Angela Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked with Duckworth on various projects for more than eleven years.

The Duckworth Lab focuses on two traits that predict success in life: grit and self-control. Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions. On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty. While we haven’t fully worked out how these two traits are related, it seems that an important distinction has to do with timescale: As Galton (1892) suggested, the inclination to pursue especially challenging aims over months, years, and even decades is distinct from the capacity to resist “the hourly temptations,” pursuits which bring momentary pleasure but are immediately regretted....

Abstract: True Grit and the Psychology of Achievement
Grit and Self-Control: Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007). Self-control refers to the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses (Duckworth, 2011). Individual differences in grit and self-control measured with self-report questionnaires are correlated (r about .6), and both contribute to the pursuit of valued long-term aims (Duckworth, et al., 2007). But there is an important difference. Grit equips individuals to pursue especially challenging aims over years and even decades. Self-control, in contrast, operates at a more molecular timescale, in the battle against what some have called the hourly temptations — among whose modern incarnations include nominate Facebook, Candy Crush, Krispy Kreme donuts, and other pursuits which bring pleasure in the moment but are immediately regretted.


Arlene Modeste Knowles

KnowlesArlene Modeste Knowles is the Career and Diversity Administrator at the American Physical Society. She serves as the manager of the APS Scholarships for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors, is in the Program Management Group of the APS Bridge Program, and manages most other diversity programs for the APS.In her capacity as the career administrator at APS, Knowles has organized and moderated career panels and tutorials at APS meetings, managed the APS job fairs and online career center, and worked on other career specific programs.

Before coming to APS, Knowles received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from Cornell University, on a pre-medical track.While at APS, Knowles first focused on programs aimed at recruiting and retaining minorities in physics, and later began working on programs to build awareness of career opportunities for all members of the physics community.Today, she works more exclusively on diversity initiatives, which include programs and activities that address the recruitment, retention, mentoring and careers of underrepresented groups.


Priscilla Pamela

PamelaAfter finishing high school at age 15 in Venezuela, I came to the US as an International Student and enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College to pursue an Associate's degree with a focus in Physics. I obtained my Associate's degree in 2001, and transferred to Florida International University (FIU) to continue pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Physics.

My original interest was in Astronomy, but somewhere along the way this shifted towards Nuclear and Particle Physics. I became an Undergraduate Research Assistant and had the opportunity to work at Jefferson Lab with the FIU Research team. Towards the end of my undergraduate experience, I was approached by Dr. Laird Kramer to become involved in the implementation of Modeling Instruction at FIU and this "new" field of Physics Education Research. I graduated in 2005 with a Bachelors of Science in Physics, and went on to become the first Graduate Student in PER at FIU. I successfully completed my Masters Degree in Physics in 2009, when I defended my thesis titled "Assessing an Undergraduate Physics Community: Student's Perspectives and Impact of Modeling Instruction at a Minority Serving Institution".

After graduating, I decided to explore career options outside of academia and started working at CARE Resource in 2010 as a Data Analyst, and later as the Quality Assurance & Data Analysis Supervisor. The agency is South Florida's oldest and largest non-profit HIV/AIDS service organization. Eventually, it was made clear to me that there is a tremendous need and future for people with my skill set, training, and experience in the bigger setting of healthcare, so I wanted to explore job opportunities within bigger healthcare organizations. I started working at a Large Community Hospital in Miami, FL in June of 2013 where I hold my current position as a Performance Analyst.

I still have an interest at heart in the education of our young and future scientists, especially women and underrepresented minorities, and I firmly believe that there is a place for what physicists have to offer in the healthcare environment, outside of the traditional views.


Jonathan Pelz

PelzJonathan Pelz received his B.S. degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkely. After postdoctoral research at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Pelz joined the Ohio State University faculty in 1990. A recipient of an NSF Young Investigator Award, Pelz's experimental condensed matter research focusses on nanometer-scale electronic, magnetic, and optical properties of surfaces, interfaces, and device structures. Pelz is currently the Vice Chair of Graduate Studies and Research in the Ohio State University Physics Department, and is co-leader of Ohio State's M.S-to-Ph.D. Physics Bridge Program.

Abstract: A Successful M.S. Experience Can Provide a Fresh Start
Based on experience from previous MS-to-PhD bridge programs, most notably the NIH- and NSF-funded Bridge programs at San Francisco State University in the 1990s and early 2000's, a "profile" has emerged of a student with a rocky undergraduate experience who blossoms in a well-run MS program and goes on to a successful PhD and beyond. In the Ohio State University Physics PhD admissions committee we look for students with such profiles and work to admit them, but must overcome a deep rooted bias of some administrators and faculty members against students with poor UG records. Although the number of admitted PhD students at OSU who fit this profile is still small, the results have been good and in one case quite spectacular. It is important that students, and admissions committees, do not let a rocky start be a permanent roadblock.


Monica Plisch

PlischMonica Plisch serves as the Associate Director of Education and Diversity at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. She is a co-PI on the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) project and a member of the National Task Force on Teacher Education in Physics. She also leads initiatives to improve mentoring and ethics education and to develop high school lessons on contemporary physics.

Before coming to the APS, Plisch led education programs at a NSF funded center at Cornell University, where she developed programs on nanotechnology for undergraduate students and physics teachers. Plisch completed her doctoral studies in physics (nanomagnetics) at Cornell University. She enjoys competitive rowing and running.

Abstract: Physics Research Mentor Training
Many faculty are placed in mentorship roles, although they rarely receive formal training in how to be an effective mentor. The Physics Research Mentor Training Seminar provides training for physics faculty who are in mentorship roles. Participants will work through a portion of a ten-week seminar that includes themes such as establishing expectations, maintaining effective communication, and addressing diversity. Participants will be introduced to the facilitation guide, which can be used to lead facilitating mentoring seminars. This guide was developed by physics researchers and researchers from the University of Wisconsin who have previously adapted several mentor training curricula. Within each topic, the guide provides learning objectives, suggested activities, and case studies for discussion. The workshop is intended to help physics researchers improve their mentoring skills, and to improve the experiences of the next generation of physicists.


Geoff Potvin

PotvinGeoff Potvin is an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at Florida International University and an affiliate of FIU's STEM Transformation Institute. He is a member of the APS Forum on Education's Executive Committee and the AAPT's Committee on Diversity. Potvin completed his doctorate in theoretical physics at the University of Toronto before taking up a science education postdoctorate in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. His research is focused on understanding the lack of diversity in the physical sciences and engineering at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Using an identity lens, he studies how educational practices and other experiences influence students' attitudes and career intentions, especially for those who are traditionally marginalized from STEM. Potvin is working with the APS Bridge Program to understand how departmental admissions and retention practices can help to grow a more diverse body of future physicists, and the factors that affect student success in graduate physics.

Abstract: Interactive Discussion: Comparison Between Graduate Admission Practices at DGIs and Master's Institutions
Improving and diversifying graduate physics programs requires us to better understand the critical gatekeeping role played by graduate admissions, and to improve our collective recruiting and retention efforts beyond the bachelor's degree. Recently, in concert with some of the activities of the APS Bridge Program, two surveys were conducted on the recent admissions practices at doctoral degree-granting and Master's degree-granting institutions, respectively.  Receiving responses from over 75% of departments in each category, respondents were probed about their admissions decisions with special attention on the criteria used and their relative importance (including GRE scores), and how student representation considerations are dealt with in the admissions process (if at all).  In this talk, I will compare and contrast responses from doctoral and Master's institutions, to better understand the differing recruiting strategies and educational roles played by these programs.


Alejandro de la Puente

PotvinI was born in Lima, Peru and attended two years of high school before moving to Miami, Florida with my family. After finishing high school I enrolled in FIU with the intention of pursuing either a Chemistry or Biology degree with an emphasis on pre-med. During the process, I fell in love with the physical sciences, in particular, the theoretical side of it. Graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Physics in 2005 and chose to pursue graduate studies in High Energy Physics at FIU. Defended my thesis on "Kaon Photoproduction of the Proton: Contribution of Higher Angular Momentum and Energy Resonances to the Cross Section and Polarization Asymmetries through and Effective Lagrangian Model" under the supervision of Dr. Oren Maxwell in July 2008. In the Fall of 2008 I began the PhD program at the University of Notre Dame under the supervision of Dr. Antonio Delgado. Defended my doctoral thesis on "A Singlet Extension of the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model: Towards a More Natural Solution of the Little Hierarchy Problem" in May 2012.

After finishing my PhD I was granted a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at TRIUMF: Canada's First National Particle and Nuclear Physics where I carry out most of my research on Theoretical High Energy Physics.


Mani Tripathi

TripathiMani Tripathi received his B.Sc. Honors degree in physics from St. Stephen's College in Delhi, India, in 1980, and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1986. He joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis in 1990, after spending four years as a postdoc at Fermilab, Batavia, IL. His main research interest comprises of searches for dark matter with the CMS detector at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland and with the LUX detector at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead, SD. He is also involved in development of radiation detectors for a variety of applications. Prof. Tripathi is currently serving as the Chair of the Designated Emphasis in Nuclear Science program at UC Davis. In 2013, he was appointed the Faculty Assistant to the Dean of Math and Physical Sciences. He is the founder of the California Professoriate for Access to Physics Careers (CPAPC), a program that brings together physics faculty from the University of California and California State University systems.

Abstract: Panel: Developing a Bridge Program: Cultivating Relationships Between Institutions
Over the past four years, CPAPC has been organizing GRE "bootcamps", one each in southern and northern California locations. Conducted over a weekend, these events prepare students by showing them problem solving techniques and equipping them with strategies to take the Physics GRE exam. We give priority to underrepresented minority students and females during the enrollment process. This program, supported by the Dean of Graduate Studies at UC Davis, has helped improve the application package of 100's of students by now. Prof. Tripathi is also deeply involved with a research network involving minority serving institutions (MSI), in the area of nuclear science. This program is part of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, funded by the Department of Energy. It provides research funds to select investigators at MSI, and also funds summer internships for URM students from these MSI to work at research universities. UC Davis and University of Texas El Paso have been partner institutions for the last two years. Prof. Tripathi will describe these efforts and discuss the role of research ties in the context of a bridge program.


David Wittman

WittmanDavid Wittman is Associate Professor and chair of the graduate admissions committee in the Department of Physics at the University of California, Davis. He received an AB in physics (1990) from Harvard and a PhD in Astronomy (1997) from the University of Arizona. He was a researcher at Bell Laboratories (1997-2004) before joining UC Davis. His primary research interests are in extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology. He and Professor Tripathi (above) founded the California graduate admissions bootcamps to help students (especially underrepresented minorities and women) improve their chances in the graduate applications process.

Abstract: Designing and Running a Graduate Admissions Boot Camp
Graduate admissions can, unfortunately, be a rich-get-richer process: many undergrads at major research universities with access to research opportunities and contact with current graduate students know how to present themselves, while students lacking those advantages often don't even know how to approach the process. In 2009 UC Davis began an annual graduate admissions boot camp to give those students---who are often underrepresented minorities, lower-income, and/or first-generation college students---more access to information and advice about the process as well as a wake-up call and a chance to practice on the Physics GRE, which is one variable students can still change in fall of their senior year. The camp has been very well received by students and has been replicated in southern California (at CSU Long Beach) and is now rotating around northern California, with UC Santa Cruz hosting it in 2013 and 2014. I will briefly outline what we do in the boot camp and why, leaving plenty of time for open discussion about what students need and how best to provide that.