Invited Speakers

Kate Kirby

Executive Officer for the APS

The following biographical summary is available via the APS:

Kate Kirby received her A.B. in Chemistry and Physics from Harvard/Radcliffe College in 1967 and her Ph.D. 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 (1973-86, and 2003 - present). 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 NSF-funded Institute for Theoretical Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics (ITAMP) at Harvard and Smithsonian.

Kirby's research interests lie in the area of theoretical atomic and molecular physics, particularly focusing on the calculation of atomic and molecular processes important in astrophysics and atmospheric physics. Recent work has included studies of collision-broadened alkali atom resonance lines (seen in the atmospheres of brown dwarf stars), electron impact excitation of highly-charged ions (to understand astrophysical x-ray spectra), molecular line opacities in cool stellar atmospheres, and formation and destruction of small molecules in astrophysical environments. In addition she is working on processes for forming ultracold polar molecules via laser-induced photoassociation and using such systems as a platform for robust quantum computation. In 1990 she was elected to Fellowship in the APS.

John C. Mather

Nobel Laureate in Physics

Dr. Mather is currently a senior astrophysicist at NASA Goddard and a adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is also the project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope. In 2006, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with George F. Smoot "for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation." Additional details about the work leading to his Nobel Prize, as well as biographical details, can be found on the official Nobel Prize website.

Michelle L. Thaller

Assistant Director for Science Communication and Higher Education , Sciences and Exploration Directorate, NASA Goddard

The following biographical summary is available via Wikipedia:

Michelle Thaller is an American astronomer and research scientist. Thaller is currently the assistant director for Science Communication at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. From 1998 to 2009 she was a staff scientist at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center, and later Manager of the Education and Public Outreach program for the Spitzer Space Telescope, at the California Institute of Technology. A native of Wisconsin, Thaller graduated from Waukesha South High School in 1988. She attended Harvard University where she majored in astrophysics and worked on precision measurement of binary stars, receiving a Bachelor's degree in 1992. At Georgia State University Thaller worked on colliding winds in close massive binary systems. She received a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in 1998.

William D. Phillips

Nobel Laureate in Physics

Dr. Phillips is a currently a physicist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as a Distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland. In 1997 he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and Claude Cohen-Tannoudji "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light." Additional details about the work leading to his Nobel Prize, as well as biographical details, can be found on the official Nobel Prize website.

Ellen Williams

Chief Scientist at BP

In addition to being Cheif Scientist at BP, Dr. Ellen Williams is a Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland (read about her positions here). In November, Dr. Williams was nominated by the President of the United States for the position of Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy in the Department of Energy.

As stated on her lab's website: The Williams group uses the tools of experimental surface science to explore fundamental issues in statistical mechanics, and their practical applications in the growing field of nanotechnology. Many of the research activities exploit the power of direct imaging techniques such as scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) for exploring previously inaccessible areas of science.

Keynote Speaker

Debra Fischer

Professor, Yale University Department of Astronomy

The CUWiP keynote talk is broadcast live to all CUWiP sites. From the curriculum vitae of this year's keynote speaker:

Debra Fischer is a Professor of Astronomy at Yale University who began hunting for exoplanets in 1997 by measuring tiny periodic shifts in the radial velocities of other stars. She discovered the first known multiple planet system in 1999 and contributed to the understanding of planet formation with analysis that quantified the impact of chemical composition on the formation of planets. From 2003 – 2008, she led an international consortium to carry out a search for planets around metal-rich stars; that project alone detected more than 50 new extrasolar planets. Some of these planets transit in front of their host stars and the measured decrement in starlight reveals the mass, size and density of the planets. Theoretical models of these transiting planets demonstrated an incredible diversity in the interior structure of unseen planets orbiting stars that are a hundred light years away. She is the PI for CHIRON, a high-resolution spectrometer commissioned at CTIO in March 2011, where her team is carrying out a search for rocky planets around our nearest stellar neighbors, the alpha Centauri A and B stars. In her lab at Yale, Fischer’s team is developing next generation instrument designs that aim to break current records and detect Earth analogues that will be targets in the search for life on other worlds

Panel Speakers

Career Panel

Government: Denise Caldwell, NSF, Division Director of the Physics Division in MPS
Education: Toni Sauncy, Director, Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma
Industry: Jessie Rosenberg, Research Staff Member in the Silicon Photonics team at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center
Education: Beth Cunningham, Executive Officer, American Association of Physics Teachers *Unable to attend

Moderator: Kristen Burson, Visiting Assistant Professor of Physics, Gettysburg College

Graduate School Panel

Sarah Eno, Professor of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park
Sharon Stephenson, Professor of Physics, Gettysburg College
Katie Jameson, Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park
Hilary Hurst, Physics, University of Maryland, College Park
Holly Tinkey, Physics, University of Maryland, College Park

Moderator: Rachel Lee, Physics, University of Maryland, College Park

Research Opportunities Panel

Lynn Carter, Research Space Scientist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Angela Hight Walker, Senior Scientist, NIST
Betsy Beise, Professor of Physics, University of Maryland
Megan Marshall, Physics, University of Maryland, College Park

Moderator: Michelle Groce, Professorial Lecturer, American University

Workshop Leaders

Presenting Yourself and Your Data

Kathy Reiffenstein, Founder and President of And...Now Presenting! Creating Confident, Persuasive Speakers

Kathy Reiffenstein is a passionate educator in the art and science of public speaking. With more than 20 years as a business owner, trainer, manager, speaker and published writer, Kathy has what any good decision-maker is looking for in a professional trainer and business partner - practical experience combined with the ability to transfer knowledge, assess skills and coach performance. Working with pharmaceutical, packaged goods, high-tech, airline and major consulting companies, Kathy has trained people at various levels and disciplines. Acknowledged by her clients for exemplary customer service and a dedication to understanding their needs, she continues to help people learn how to excel at presenting their ideas, their strategies and their vision.

Science Policy

Anna Quider, Innovation Program Manager at U.S. Department of State

Dr. Anna Quider works to improve local and global communities through international cooperation by supporting U.S. Department of State policies and programming at the intersection of science, innovation, and diplomacy, including the GIST Initiative. Previously, Dr. Quider developed strategies to address local, national, and international issues spanning education, science, innovation, and foreign affairs for the Office of Rep. Russ Carnahan, U.S. House of Representatives. Dr. Quider is an astrophysicist who regularly engages broad audiences on topics including astronomy, professional development, and policy.