Speakers and Panelists

APS keynote speaker:

Saturday 11:45-1:30pm

Prof. Nergis Mavalvala

Professor Nergis Mavalvala joined the Physics faculty at MIT in January 2002. Before that, she was a postdoctoral associate and then a research scientist at Caltech, working on the Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). She has been involved with LIGO since her early years in graduate school at MIT and her primary research has been in instrument development for interferometric gravitational-wave detectors. Professor Mavalvala received a Ph.D. in Physics from MIT in 1997, and a B.A. in Physics and Astronomy from Wellesley College in 1990. She was appointed Associate Department Head of Physics, effective February 1, 2015. 

Professor Mavalvala's research focuses on interferometric Gravitational Waves and Quantum Measurement. The gravitational waves that LIGO detects are ripples in the spacetime fabric caused by the motion of compact, massive astrophysical objects. Since the nature of gravitation is inherently different from electromagnetism, gravitational wave astrophysics has the potential of providing a radically different view of the universe, including direct observation of massive dark matter, large-scale nuclear matter and a test of strong-field gravitation. 

CU keynote speaker:

Saturday 5:30-7:15pm

Dr. Renee Horton

Dr. K. Renee Horton is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and lifelong lover of science and NASA. A graduate of Louisiana State University with a B.S. of Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Material Science with a concentration in Physics, becoming the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama in 2011. 

Dr.  K. Renee Horton currently serves as the Space Launch System (SLS) Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer in the NASA Residential Management Office at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans.  She worked for NASA, first as a student from 2009 to 2011, and then started her career as a mechanical test engineer in 2012.  In 2014 she was promoted to her current position.

Planetarium Lecturer: 

Saturday 7:30-8:30pm

Dr. Erica Ellingson

Dr. Ellingson is a professor in the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research interests include galaxy clusters, galaxy evolution and observational cosmology, and she teaches a variety of classes, including observational techniques and ancient astronomy. She is also director of the CU Sciences Technology and Astronomy Recruits program, which promotes retention of students in science majors via community-building and outreach.


Panel: Advice from professionals in science

Friday 5:30-6:30 PM

Dr. Rocio Cortes

Rocio Cortes is an associate editor of Physical Review Letters, one of the journals of the American Physical Society (APS). She received her Ph.D. in physics at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain). Prior to joining the APS, she was a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Functional Nanomaterials at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Rocio has also worked at the Ultrafast Surface Dynamics Research Group at Freie Universität Berlin, and at the Fritz-Haber Institute of the Max-Planck Society (Germany) where she was awarded a Humboldt Research Fellowship. Rocio joined Physical Review Letters in 2014. http://journals.aps.org/prl/

Sarah Scoles

Sarah Scoles is a freelance science journalist and a contributor at WIRED Science. She began her academic career intending to become a research scientist and obtained a degree in astrophysics from Agnes Scott College. Enamored as much by communicating science as she was by doing it, she attended Cornell University's MFA program in fiction writing, intending to write made-up novels with real science and scientific characters in them. After obtaining her degree, she became the public education specialist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank, West Virginia, site, where she helped students do their own research on telescopes ranging from 40 feet to 360 feet across. This work led her, in 2012, to an editorial position at Astronomy magazine, where she learned how the publishing industry works. In 2014, she began a freelance career--writing for publications like WIRED, Slate, Motherboard, Discover, and Smithsonian--and work on a book about astronomer Jill Tarter, which will come out this summer from Pegasus. www.sarahscoles.com

Dr. Julianne Pollard-Larkin

Dr. Julianne Pollard-Larkin is an Assistant Professor of Medical Physics at the University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. She is a clinical medical physicist in MD Anderson’s Thoracic Radiation Oncology Clinic.  In between overseeing the delivery of high dose, hypo-fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy treatments, Julianne also conducts clinical research projects, mentors and teaches Medical Physics residents and graduate students. Her primary research interests include pacemaker radiotherapy dose measurements, improving the efficacy of motion management in thoracic treatments and radiobiology.At MD Anderson, she created a faculty support group over the last 4 years for the women medical physicists at her institution known as the Medical Physics Women’s Group and hosts educational events with local school children to introduce them to her field. She received her PhD in Biomedical Physics at UCLA and her B.S. in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fl. After receiving her PhD at UCLA, Julianne was accepted into the Medical Physics Residency program at MD Anderson in Houston, Tx. Following her residency, Julianne was hired by MD Anderson as faculty. Beyond her role in the clinic and classroom, Julianne is a firm believer in outreach and increasing the pipeline of women and underrepresented populations in science.  Every program she graduated from, she was the first and only African-American woman, she works tirelessly to see that she is not the last.  

Tara Fortier

Dr. Tara Fortier received her Doctorate in Physics from JILA, University of Colorado at Boulder on the development of pulsed laser systems for precision measurement. She performed her post-doctoral work in a joint position between Los Alamos National Laboratories and the National Institute of Standards and Technology using optical clocks to look for violations of Einsteins laws. She has worked at a guest researcher at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, Uk and at the University of Western Australia. She has received the European Time and Frequency Forum EFTF Young Scientist award in 2009 for her work on developing octave spanning, GHz repetition rate Ti:Sapphire laser for optical metrology. Dr Fortier is currently working as a project leader at the National Institute of Technology, Boulder. Her work is focused on the development of laser systems to compare optical comparisons and for photonic generation of ultra low-noise microwave signals. She has more than 50 published papers in the field of optical frequency comb development and applications.

Panel: Careers in science with BA/BS or MS

Saturday 9:00-10:00 AM

Rosemary Wulf, MS

Rosemary Wulf is a high school teacher at Englewood High School in Englewood Colorado. She teaches Physics, AP Physics, Chemistry, and Earth Systems Science. Rosemary earned her BA degree in Physics and her MS degree in physics, both from CU Boulder (go buffs!). For her Master’s thesis Rosemary worked with Partnerships for Informal Science Education in the Community (PISEC) and studied what children are learning and how they learn in an informal, student directed, after school program for physics. Rosemary is also a Knowles Science Teaching Foundation fellow.  In the KSTF fellowship she participates as part of a national group of teachers committed to bettering their practice and science teaching in general through collaboration with other teachers, growing their own knowledge of educational pedagogy, and teacher leadership. In her classes she especially tries to attend to student affect. Her students are often seen outside with video analysis apps rolling bowling balls down hills, taking high speed video of hitting her in the face with water balloons, and pushing her through the hallways on roller blades to    determine her mass.  Physics at Englewood high school is the most snap chatted class at the school! Rosemary also sponsors the dance club and the LARP club at Englewood high school.

Alexandria DeWolfe, MA

Alexandria DeWolfe manages the Science Data Centers for NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars and the Emirates Mars Mission. She holds a BA in astronomy from Wellesley College, and she considered a career in ancient languages for long enough to earn an MA in Near Eastern Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Her varied career has included teaching science as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the South Pacific, working as a lab technician at Princeton, and a great deal of computer programming for space missions. She has been happily employed at the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics for the past ten years. 

Amandeep Gill

I did my undergrad in Physics at Brown University and came to the University of Colorado for the Astrophysics Ph.D. program.  Not long after passing the comprehensive exams, I decided the Ph.D. wasn't for me, and ended up finding a job from the CU career fair as a software engineer with a company called Workiva. After a year at Workiva, I was contacted by a Google recruiter, and have now been a software engineer at Google for a year and a half.

Andrea Egan

Panel: Promoting inclusion through student activism

Sunday 9:00-10:00 AM

Dr. Melissa Dancy

Dr. Melissa Dancy research faculty in the Physics Education Group at the University of Colorado. Dr. Dancy's current research efforts include: building virtual faculty communities to support improved teaching and a 10 year project to study race and gender impacts in choice of STEM major and persistence. Outside of work, she enjoys playing outside, working in the wood shop and making new friends.  

Hannah Grover

I am in my senior year at the Colorado School of Mines studying Engineering Physics, and plan on getting my Master's degree in Nuclear Engineering through a combined program. I currently work with Dr. Kyle Leach on designing new possible detector geometries for the new Facility for Rare Isotope Beams being built at Michigan State University. At my university, I am the President of Equality Through Awareness, a club that started after CUWiP was hosted on our campus a few years ago. It focuses on bringing the conversation of equality to the campus at large, so that we can begin to create a new brand of engineers and scientists that are socially conscious. Our goal is not to bring everyone into agreement, but to create a campus where healthy, honest and respectful conversations can be had about often difficult topics.

Adalyn Fyhrie

Adalyn Fyhrie is a graduate student in the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department at University of Colorado, Boulder. Generally her research focuses on the field of far-infrared astrophysical instrumentation. Currently, she is developing extremely sensitive far-infrared detectors called kinetic inductance detectors.

Chris Moore

Christopher S. Moore is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences Department. His dissertation research includes: (1) NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF) project to help create high reflective UV-VIS-IR coatings for the next generation of astronomical space telescopes and (2) Detector characterization and solar science analysis of the Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) CubeSat mission. Chris’ general research interests include the solar-stellar connection and optical properties of materials.

Chris is also a member of CU Café. CU Café is a collective of diverse STEM trainees that promotes inclusivity and scientific excellence and connects individuals who have a strong commitment to STEM scholarship, racial and ethnic diversity, community building, and mentorship. We value camaraderie, innovation, self-awareness, and self-empowerment, and we aspire to grow as scientists, professionals, and role models. CU Café has three primary aims:

                                    •   To challenge the status quo of diversity in STEM fields, with the goal of fostering understanding,                                                 respect, and community here at CU-Boulder.

                                    •   To empower our members to be agents of change and innovative leaders capable of fostering diversity                                          and equity within STEM fields at CU-Boulder and the broader community.

                                    •   To advance the careers of our members by increasing their visibility, expanding their professional                                                 networks, and cultivating a diverse and inspiring environment that supports them throughout their                                             academic journey.

Panel: Teaching

Sunday 10:15-11:15 AM

Jennifer Jones, MS

I am a full time astronomy faculty member at Arapahoe Community College.  I have taught here for the last 4 years.  

I am a CU graduate with a degree in both Astronomy and Physics.  I earned my masters at Michigan State University in Astrophysics.

Lynett Rock

Lynett Rock earned an undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics from Northeastern State University in 1994 and a Masters in Physics from Oklahoma State University in 1996.  She spent one year teaching high school before realizing that was not the job for her.  After spending several years raising her children, she returned to teaching and has been on staff at Connors State College in Warner, Oklahoma for the last twelve years.  Connors is a rural junior college located in Lynett’s home town.  She is currently serving as the Division Chair of Mathematics, Science, and Physical Education.  Three years ago, Lynett returned to school to pursue her Doctorate in Education and hopes to be finished in the next year.  Teaching physics to students is not just a job but a calling!  Lynett is active in the local science fair and has acted as the co-chief judge for several years.  She is the mother of three and an avid barrel racer in her limited spare time.

Dr. Barbara Whitten

I am Professor of Physics at Colorado College; I also teach in the Feminist and Gender Studies and Environmental Science Programs. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Physics from Carleton College, and a PhD in Physics from University of Rochester.  My physics research is in computational atomic and molecular physics; I have worked on problems in laser physics, plasma physics, and Rydberg atom collisions.  I’ve been a feminist all my life, and began to teach and publish in that area about 15 years ago.  I’m interested in helping to build a more diverse community of physicists, and in making something that we might call feminist physics.  I have two young adult children—Penelope is a photographer and crosstrainer who lives in Los.  Jake just finished his PhD in biophysics at the University of Virginia and is working as a postdoc at the University of Washington in Seattle. 

Erica Hadden

Hannah Jang-Condell

Panel: Graduate student life

Saturday 9:00-10:00

Danielle Harris

I am a first year graduate student at Colorado State University. I spent the summer before my first year working under Jorge Rocca at the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Technology. I got my undergraduate degree at Grand Valley State University in Michigan in 2014 and decided to take a year to teach before going to graduate school. There, I worked on characterizing polymer nanocomposites using Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy.

Neesha Schnepf

Neesha Regmi Schnepf is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working on her PhD in geomagnetism in the University of Colorado Boulder's Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences. Her PhD is focused on the electromagnetic fields induced by different ocean processes and using those fields to probe Earth's interior and monitor natural hazards and climate change. She has a M.S. from MIT in Planetary Geophysics and a B.S. from Cornell University.

Baylee Bordwell

Baylee Bordwell earned their Bachelor's in Astrophysics and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California Berkeley in 2014. During their time as an undergraduate, they worked on corn genetics and a data analysis pipeline for an optical interferometer. In 2014, they began working on their PhD in astrophysics with the Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. Their graduate work consists of studying the interaction between chemistry and dynamics in the atmospheres of giant planets and brown dwarfs, and the interiors of massive stars, using numerical methods. As part of their graduate career, Baylee also participates in PICA (Promoting an Inclusive Community in Astronomy) and CU-STARS (CU Science, Technology, and Astronomy RecruitS), and performs various outreach activities. In their off time, Baylee spends a lot of time backpacking, running, and climbing.

Workshop Leaders:

Workshop: Getting into Grad School

Juliet Gopinath

Juliet T. Gopinath holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and S.M. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT in electrical engineering.   From 2005 to 2009, she worked as a member of technical staff at MIT Lincoln Laboratory.  Her work included wavelength-beam combining of eyesafe diode arrays, cryogenic Yb:YAG lasers/amplifiers, modelocked semiconductor optical waveguide lasers (SCOWLs), high power eyesafe laser sources, and Raman spectroscopy.  She is now an assistant professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering department.  Her research interests include integrated and nonlinear optics, ultrafast lasers, semiconductor lasers, wavelength beam combining, spectroscopy, mid-infrared sources, and adaptive optics.   Dr. Gopinath is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (1998-2001), an R&D 100 Award (2012), and the University of Colorado Boulder Provost’s Achievement Award (2016).  She has authored and co-authored 38 journal papers and over 47 conference proceedings and is an associate editor for the IEEE Photonics Society Journal. http://ecee.colorado.edu/~julietg/

Workshop: Professional Skills - Communication and Negotiation

Dr. Pearl Sandick

Pearl Sandick is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Utah. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from New York University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Minnesota. Before her move to the University of Utah in 2011, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Theory Group at the University of Texas at Austin. Professor Sandick is a theoretical particle physicist studying physics beyond the Standard Model. Her specialties include possible explanations for the dark matter in the Universe, the relationship between particle dark matter and theories of new physics such as supersymmetry, and detection strategies for dark matter and/or other new physics. In addition to her research, she’s passionate about teaching, mentoring students, and making science accessible and interesting to non-scientists. Professor Sandick currently serves on the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, is the Chair Elect of the National Organizing Committee for the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiPs), and is the founder and faculty sponsor of the University of Utah Women in Physics and Astronomy (WomPA). 


Workshop: Being LGBTQ in Physics - Challenges and Rewards

Morgan Seamont 

Morgan Seamont works at the Gender and Sexuality Center and is the Chair for Out Boulder’s Transgender Steering Committee.  He is passionate about LGBTQ issues, creating more inclusive environments and exploring ways that being out can be empowering for the individual and those around them.  He serves as a trans resource specialist on campus and is ABD in Anthropology where he studies trans masculinities and sexualities.  In his off time he loves to ride his motorcycles up in the mountains and building crazy lego structures.

Sarah Rimmel

Sarah Rimmel works at the CU Boulder Women's Resource Center, and serves on the board for Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center. She is a driven leader with a talent for connecting the dots, idea generation, and exploring personal and organizational values through a social justice lens. Sarah has advocated for heath and social equity in a variety of roles within non-profit organizations, and is passionate about using technology for civic and social good. Sarah earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida, and is completing a MS in Management and Organization from the University of Colorado Denver. Sarah misses the culture, music, and people of her hometown in South Florida; however, her heart is in the mountains, and she enjoys hiking, journaling, and crafting.

Workshop: Bystander Training 

Teresa Wroe

Teresa Wroe is the Director of Prevention and Education and a Deputy Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance. She has been at CU Boulder for the past twelve years and has been a violence prevention and equity educator for over twenty years.

Workshop: Managing Mental Health - How to support yourself and those around you 

Katie Rainey

Katie is an Idaho-native and Boise State University alumni who came to CU Boulder in 2014. She is currently in the physics graduate program and does research on the impacts of race and gender on student experiences in STEM.

Workshop: Getting involved in Undergraduate Research 

Tedd Hodapp

Workshop: Work/Life Balance and Family round-table 

Meredith Betterton

Alex DeWolf

Workshop: Mentorship 

Pearl Sandick

Workshop: Introduction to Physics research areas