I joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Agnes Scott College in 2013, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2019. I love being part of the Scottie community, especially in one of the best departments!
I’m originally from Michigan, on the outskirts of the Detroit suburbs. I fell in love with physics when I was young and I was very lucky to have a number of amazing science and math teachers who encouraged me. One of my most important experiences was participating in FIRST robotics in high school, on Team 27. I went to MIT, where I earned an undergraduate degree in Physics. After 4 years in Boston, I flew across the country and earned my Masters and PhD at Stanford University.
My first research interest was particle physics, and I was fortunate to have many amazing research experiences. As an undergraduate I worked for over a year on the ATLAS collaboration, including spending 3 months at CERN. I then worked on the BaBar experiment at SLAC, which also included a 3 month stay on site in California. My undergraduate thesis work studied whether the experimental uncertainties were small enough to perform a high precision electroweak measurement. Both ATLAS and BaBar are large accelerator-based detector experiments with hundreds or thousands of physicists collaborating on them. My work on ATLAS was entirely related to hardware (building and testing the end-cap muon system) while my work on BaBar was simulation and data analysis.
For graduate school, I decided to move away from detector-based experiments and I began working on neutrinos. I worked on EXO-200, an experiment that looks for neutrinoless double beta decay in a rare isotope of Xenon. I had the opportunity to participate in many aspect of this experiment, including building the detector and developing the simulation. The experiment is installed underground at WIPP, in Carlsbad, New Mexico. It was interesting to travel to Carlsbad and work underground in the mine.
I realized that while particle physics experiments were very interesting, I wanted to apply my skills to research questions that would have direct benefit to people’s lives. I moved to a group in Radiation Oncology where I was able to use my simulation skills to work on questions of cancer imaging and treatment. This final stage of my PhD training introduced me to a number of techniques in the biosciences, such as pre-clinical research with mice and studies with cell cultures. I learned an incredible amount from biologists, engineers, and medical doctors.
During graduate school, I also realized that I loved teaching and that I wanted to find a career where teaching came first. I also spent time trying to diversify Stanford and physics. I recruited for Stanford at the SACNAS and NSBP/NSHP conferences, worked on the Diversity Advocacy Committee of the Graduate Student Council, co-organized a CUWiP, and became an organizer of lgbt+physicists. My role at Agnes Scott definitely prioritizes teaching, and I also have the opportunity to serve a very diverse student population. It is a dream come true!
When I’m not on campus, I’m either off traveling the world or at home with my two cats. My cats, Herschel and Copernicus, came to me from the Arecibo Observatory, in Puerto Rico. They were kittens when they arrived in the summer of 2013, just after I moved to Atlanta. I don’t have a lot of free time, but I do make time to meditate and study languages.