Physics Major with a Minor in Mathematics
Associate Professor, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). MCLA is in
North Adams, MA.
MCLA is a small liberal arts college and I am one of three physics professors
that make up our department. I teach a range of courses, from courses for non-science
majors to advanced physics courses for our majors. I also participate in an international
experimental particle physics collaboration called
MINERvA. The experiment is located at the
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia Illinois. The collaboration
consists of roughly 100 physicists from 7 different countries. We are studying the
fundamental properties of a particle called the neutrino and I write software that
calibrates and analyzes our data. I work with undergraduate students from MCLA,
providing them the same types of opportunities I had as a student at Hendrix.
As an undergraduate student at Hendrix, I worked with Dr. Robert Dunn on detecting
metallic ions in the plumes of rockets. We were working to design an early warning
system that could be used on the space shuttle to detect metallic ions, which would
indicate a problem. During my time at Hendrix I participated is many aspects of
this research. I wrote software to analyze our data in a programming language called
LabView and also helped build parts of the detector. I accompanied Dr. Dunn and
the rest of the research group to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock to test
the detection systems by firing rockets and taking data using our detectors.
How Hendrix prepared me for success
My Hendrix experience was pivotal to my current role and my physics professors
were phenomenal. They deeply cared about us and made themselves available for all
of our questions, and helped me to develop a work ethic which has served me well
throughout my career. Contributing to cutting edge physics research at Hendrix was
inspiring and exciting. This was my first experience with programming, which is
something I still use in my research. My faculty mentors and student peers helped
me develop problem solving and troubleshooting skills that I still use in my research
today. I entered the physics PhD program at the University of Minnesota after Hendrix
and found that the training I received at Hendrix helped me succeed in my graduate
courses. I was able to jump into research, instead of first having to understand
what research was. I graduated from U of MN with my PhD in experimental physics
The MINERvA experiment will soon publish our results. These will include the
world's most precise measurements of neutrino cross sections. I plan to continue
bringing undergraduate students to Fermilab to experience research firsthand.
If you have the opportunity to do research, take advantage of it. The experience
will help you regardless of what you do after Hendrix. Research teaches you, among
other things, problem-solving skills, patience, and organization – all skills which
are transferable to any profession.