Speakers and Panelists

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Gabriela González, Keynote Speaker


Dr. Gabriela González’s research is on detection of gravitational waves. She is a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Louisiana State University. The LIGO project, funded by the National Science Foundation, has built gravitational wave detectors in two observatories, one in Hanford, Washington, and another in Livingston, Louisiana (only 30 miles from LSU). The detectors are essentially very long Michelson interferometers (4km, or 2.5 miles long!), which will detect minuscule differential changes in the length of the arms when a gravitational wave arrives to Earth, bringing information from astrophysical events like the collision of neutron stars forming black holes. She has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) since 1997, and in 2011 was elected as its spokesperson, a position she still holds.
She was born in Córdoba, Argentina, where she went to college and graduated in 1988. She moved to Syracuse University in 1989, where she got her Ph.D. with , Peter Saulson in 1995. Afterwards, she worked with the MIT-LIGO group in 1995 as a staff scientist, joined the faculty of Penn State in 1997, and the faculty of Louisiana State University in 2001. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. She was awarded the APS Edward Bouchet Award in 2007.

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Denise Caldwell, Science Cafe Speaker



Dr. Caldwell is the Division Director for the Physics Division at the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Physics Division is that unit within the NSF that provides financial support for funding within the US of basic experimental and theoretical research in five areas of physics: biological physics, gravitational physics, particle physics, nuclear physics, and atomic, molecular and optical physics. The Division currently awards approximately $270 M in research funding each year, divided into support for individual research groups, centers, and facilities. Dr. Caldwell graduated from the University of Mississippi in the class of 1968. Following graduation she spent a year in Germany as a Fulbright scholar. She then completed a Ph.D. degree in Physics, with emphasis in atomic and molecular physics, from Columbia University. A postdoctoral appointment at the University of Bielefeld in Germany followed. She then served on the faculty of the Physics Department at Yale University before moving to the University of Central Florida in 1985. At Yale she began a research program, funded by the NSF, on atomic photoionization with synchrotron radiation, which she continued at Florida. In 1995 she moved to the NSF on temporary assignment from the University of Central Florida, where she was a Professor of Physics. She later became a permanent NSF employee in 1998. She has published over 60 papers in peer-reviewed journals and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Between 1995 and 2007 Dr. Caldwell served as Program Director in the Physics Division with responsibility for three programs, Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Plasma Physics (AMOP), Biological Physics (BP), and Physics Frontiers Centers (PFC), the latter two which she created within the Division. As Program Director she had responsibility for a broad range of scientific research, extending from fundamental studies in the various disciplines through the Physics Frontiers Centers program to research in Quantum Information Science. She has also participated in a number of major NSF-wide initiatives, including the Optical Science and Engineering program, the Nanoscale Science and Engineering program, and the Information Technology Research program.

In June 2007 Dr. Caldwell was appointed Deputy Division Director of the Physics Division; in May 2013 she was appointed Division Director. It is her responsibility to direct the overall management and operations of the Division as well as represent the Division to the community and the community to the NSF.

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SPEAKERS

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Katherine Dooley

Katherine Dooley is the newest faculty addition to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the U. of Mississippi. She will begin in Fall 2015. Dr. Dooley is an experimental physicist in the area of gravitational wave physics. In the lab she works with lasers and optics and control systems to design new technologies for improving the sensitivity of gravitational wave detectors. Her expertise is in manipulating the Heisenberg uncertainty principle to improve the measurement of the gravitational wave signal through a quantum optics technique called squeezed light. As a graduate student, Dr. Dooley served on the LIGO Academic Advisory Committee and she continues to strive to make the study of physics a good experience for students. Dr. Dooley most recently spent 3 years at the Albert Einstein Institute in Hannover, Germany and is currently at Caltech. She received her B.A. in Physics from Vassar College in 2006 and Ph.D. in Physics from the U. of Florida in 2011. She loves to travel, learn new languages, and ride her unicycle!

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Claudia Hillenbrand

Dr. Claudia M. Hillenbrand is an associate member of the Department of Radiological Sciences at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and an adjunct faculty member of the Biomedical Engineering Department of the University of Memphis, TN. In 2000, she earned her PhD degree in Physics from the Julius-Maximilians-University Wuerzburg (Germany) for her thesis research in hybrid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and was awarded the Roentgen prize of the university for her thesis in 2001. From 2000 to 2003 she was a postdoctoral research fellow at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH. From 2001 to 2003 she was awarded an Emmy Noether scholarship from the German Research Foundation (DFG) for her research in interventional MRI at Case Western. She was appointed as assistant professor in the School of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2003, before joining St. Jude’s faculty in 2005. Her current research interests include translational imaging research with focus on magnetic resonance physics, development of non-invasive, quantitative MR tests to guide therapy, assess therapeutic response, and to characterize effects of disease, MR-based organ function tests, iron overload and novel MR imaging in hemoglobinopathies and childhood cancer.

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Zelda Gills

Zelda Gills is a physicist working in the aerospace and defense industry as a technical project manager at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. Dr. Gills’ career at Lockheed began with engineering, prototyping and testing solutions for airborne communications, radar and defensive systems. She currently leverages expertise in systems engineering and avionics to conceptualize and mature solutions for mission system modification contracts valued at over $100 million each and aircraft recapitalization programs valued at over $1.5 billion long term. Over the course of her career, she has led multisite/ multidisciplinary technical teams in a variety of industries including optics/photonics, telecommunications, electronics and avionics. She is a proud graduate of Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she received her undergraduate degree in Physics, supported in part by an American Physical Society (APS) scholarship. With the support of a Bell Labs Fellowship, she completed her Ph.D. in Optics and Laser Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Gills credits hunger for continuous improvement and support from strong mentors for her success. Consequently, she values opportunities to tutor and mentor students and intentionally looks for people in whom she can sow and cause to grow. She is blissfully married to her college sweetheart and husband of over 23 years and is the mother of three children (two in college and one in high school).

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Veerle Keppens

Dr. Veerle Keppens earned her bachelor's degree (1989) and Ph.D. (1995) in Physics from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium). From 1995 to 1998, she was a Fulbright fellow in the novel materials group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she became interested in the elastic properties of new materials. In 1999, she joined the faculty in the Physics Department at The University of Mississippi. In 2003, she moved to Tennessee and joined the faculty in the materials science and engineering department at the University of Tennessee, where she continues to study the elastic properties and lattice dynamics of novel materials. At UT, she has received multiple awards, including the chancellor's award for professional promise in research and creative achievement, the college of engineering research fellow award, and the department of materials science faculty award for outstanding service. In 2011, she became a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America for the application of ultrasonics to condensed matter physics. She currently serves as the Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs in the College of Engineering.


PANELISTS

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Beverley Berger

Dr. Beverly K. Berger is Chair of the American Physical Society's Topical Group in Gravitation (which she founded in 1995), Secretary of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, Chair of the External Scientific Advisory Board of the Max-Planck-Society's Albert Einstein Institute, and a member of the Editorial Board of Reports on Progress in Physics and the External Advisory Board of the College of Arts and Sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology. She is a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration where she serves as Ombudsperson, is a member of LIGO Academic Affairs Council, and chaired the review for the release of LIGO's S5 data. She was previously the NSF Program Director for Gravitational Physics (11/01-12/11) and a faculty member and chair of Physics at Oakland University (8/77-8/02). She chaired the APS Committee on the Status of Women (2000). She received her B.S. in Physics from the U. of Rochester (1967) and Ph.D. from the U. of Maryland (1972).

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John Z. Kiss


John Z. Kiss is the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Mississippi. His academic appointments include Professor of Biology and Research Professor in the Research Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Dr. Kiss was on the faculty of Miami University (1993-2012) where his most recent appointment was as University Distinguished Professor. He has been an instructor in 15 different courses ranging from introductory biology for first year students to advanced graduate courses. He also has mentored 42 independent research projects by undergraduates and has served as major professor for 11 M.S. students, 7 doctoral students, and 5 post-doctoral scholars. Dr. Kiss's research focuses on the gravitational and space biology of plants, and he has published 94 peer reviewed papers. He also has been invited to present seminars based on his research at universities throughout the US and in another 12 countries. He served as PI on grants from NASA, USDA, NSF, and the NIH (career total = $5.7 million) as well as PI on six spaceflight experiments on the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. Dr. Kiss was President of the Midwestern Section of the American Society of Plant Biologists (2001-02) and the American Society of Gravitational and Space Biology (2003-04). He has had many service and leadership roles including membership on the university promotion and tenure committee and the university senate. He also has had major editorial activities including Associate Editor for the American Journal of Botany and Editor for Advances in Space Research.

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Pamela Quintana

Dr. Pamela Quintana received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama and her master's and PhD from Florida State University. She specializes in theoretical high energy physics. She has worked at Fermilab and collaborated with Argonne National Laboratory. She has been working at the Alabama School of Mathematics & Science for the past 15 years. The school is a residential facility which provides a college-level education to highly gifted 10th – 12th grade high school students from throughout the state of Alabama. Currently she teaches Honors and AP Physics, Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Physics Research as Directed Study.
She is the Alabama State Coordinator for the National Science Bowl for both Middle School and High School competitions, sponsors the National Honor Society (ASMS Chapter), cosponsors the Student Government Association, and serves as the ASMS Academic Liaison.

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Donald Cole

Dr. Donald R. Cole is Assistant Provost and Assistant to the Chancellor for Multicultural Affairs and Associate Professor of Mathematics and a member of the Chancellor’s Executive Staff at the University of Mississippi. He plays an active leadership role in policy making, teaching, research, and diversity. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Mississippi, M.A degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Michigan and a Bachelor's degree from Tougaloo College. Dr. Cole enjoyed a successful career in the aerospace industry before moving to academia at Florida A & M University. He joined the University of Mississippi in the early 90’s as Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Cole is stern advocate for education, particularly for minority students and devotes his time and energy to projects and causes that promote the schooling, teaching, training and guidance opportunities of students. His classes are known as much more than a venue for learning mathematics; there, students acquire lifetime professional attributes to be productive citizens of our society. He and his wife, Marcia have three children, Donald II , Mariah and William.

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Aline McNaull

Aline McNaull is a Policy Associate at the American Institute of Physics where she focuses on STEM education policy and research and development issues particularly those at the National Science Foundation. She also contributes to FYI, AIP’s policy bulletin and coordinates efforts supporting the broad interests of the physics societies. She actively participates in science policy coalitions in Washington including the Coalition for National Science Funding, Energy Sciences Coalition and the Task Force on American Innovation. Prior to joining AIP, Aline was a multidisciplinary engineer at Raytheon where she worked on semiconductor wafer development. Later she became a patent examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concentrating on optics-related technology. Aline graduated with a bachelors in physics from Bryn Mawr College and is currently pursuing a M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy with a focus on technology transfer, space, and energy policy.

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Ann Viano

Dr. Ann Viano is associate professor of physics at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Originally from northern California, she received her Ph.D. in physics from Washington University in St. Louis studying energy storage in Titanium-based quasicrystalline alloys. She currently does research in the field of functional magnetic resonance imaging. She also serves as the college’s liaison to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, managing the student research program and college programs involving St. Jude scientists. She teaches courses in all areas of the physics major curriculum and pioneered an interdisciplinary course in robotics and art. She has served as a national councilor for the Society of Physics students and is a past president of Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society.

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Amanda Wood

Amanda Wood is an alumnus of the University of Mississippi physics program. She holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and currently teaches Engineering and Robotics at Tupelo Career Technical Center. She is the founder and coach of the schools VEX robotics team. The first year the students competed she led a team of sophomores and juniors to win the VEX Robotics State Competition in March 2014. After securing a win at the state level, the students competed in the VEX Worlds Robotics Competition in Anaheim, CA. She is also the Technology Student Association advisor at her school and has an active chapter that competes yearly at the district, state, and national level. She received Teacher of the Year for the 2013-2014 school year and was nominated for Teacher of Distinction by the Association for Excellence in Education and the CREATE foundation. She wrote and received a grant for MinecraftEDU to teach physics and math concepts and looks forward to writing more grants to facilitate student engagement and learning. She enjoys spending time with her family and is expecting her first child in April.