Alumni Updates '18-'19

Yurij Baransky (Ph.D. '87, Applied Physics, concentration in Applied Mathematics) donated hundreds of physics and mathematics books from his personal collection to the APAM graduate student library. The APAM Department warmly thanks Dr. Baransky for his generously contribution which will inspire and instruct generations of APAM students.

Justin Calamari (B.S. '18, Applied Physics) who was a member of Prof. Simon Billinge's Group, was selected to be part of the prestigious and selective Google Summer of Code program. The program funds students to work on open source software projects over the summer. For more information about his work, visit Justin's blog.

Xin Chen
(M.S..’17, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: “After graduating, I went back to my country and started my career as a research analyst in the finance field. Though in finance field, my work is still related to engineering research.”*

Seth Davidovits (B.S. '10, Applied Physics), a 2017 graduate of the Program in Plasma Physics in the Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences, has won the 2018 Marshall N. Rosenbluth Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Award presented by the American Physical Society (APS). The award recognizes “exceptional young scientists who have performed original thesis work of outstanding scientific quality and achievement in the area of plasma physics.” Davidovits is now a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton, where he holds a DOE Fusion Energy Sciences postdoctoral fellowship. He is a member of the American Physical Society and was chosen as a 2018 Howes Scholar. Dr. Davidovits continues to pursue the compression of turbulent plasma, with applications in inertial-confinement-fusion experiments, Z-pinch experiments, and astrophysical plasmas.

Xuan Gao (Ph.D. '03, Applied Physics), a former student of Prof. Aron Pinczuk and Prof. Andrew Millis, is now a full professor in the Physics Department at Case Western Reserve University. Prof. Gao's research centers on nanostructures or materials (quantum wells, nanoplates, nanowires etc) in which the quantum nature of particles (electrons, phonons etc) plays a fundamental role in their electrical, thermal, optical and magnetic properties. He seeks to understand and exploit the quantum physics in these nanostructures for novel device applications.

Rosario A. Gerhardt (M.S. ’79, Eng.Sc.D. ’83, Materials Science & Engineering / Earth & Environmental Science) attended the recent alumni reunion and enjoyed being on the Columbia campus after so many years. She especially enjoyed Professor Helfand’s lecture, walking around the campus, and seeing all of the changes that have taken place in the interim years. She has been a faculty member at the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology since 1991, received tenure in 1997 and got promoted to full professor in 2001. Gerhardt recently received the 2017 ACerS Friedberg Award and lecture at the MS&T conference held in Pittsburgh in October 2017. She was named Goizueta Foundation Faculty Chair at Georgia Tech in 2015. In addition to conducting research in the materials field, she is also committed to helping younger generations become solid researchers to emulate her former thesis advisor, Professor A.S. Nowick.*

Sarah Goler (B.S. '07, Applied Physics) was one of five featured panelists at the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association (CEAA) dinner on April 17, 2019 on "How to get hired from a multi-disciplinary, multifunctional perspective." She earned her Ph.D. in Condensed Matter Physics at Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy, in 2014, and currently owns a restaurant and natural wine bar, Tannat Wine & Cheese LLC, with her husband.

Yuan He (Ph.D. ‘10, Applied Mathematics) joins the APAM Department as an Adjunct Associate Professor and will be teaching APMA E2101 Introduction to Applied Mathematics in Spring 2019. Previously, she was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) and a Postdoctoral Instructor in Mathematics at the University of Texas, Austin; was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Pure and Applied Matematics at UCLA; and returned to UT-Austin as a Lecturer in Mathematics.

Julio Herrera Estrada (B.S. ‘12, Applied Mathematics) writes: “I graduated from Princeton University with a Ph.D. in civil and environmental engineering. My thesis was about how droughts develop in North America, how they may be affected by climate change, and how they impact the electricity sector (e.g. through hydropower). I am now a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University in the Department of Earth System Science, continuing my work on the impact of weather and climate extremes on the electricity sector. I am looking forward to connecting with other alumni in the Bay Area!”*

Monika Kopacz
(B.S. '03, Applied Mathematics) stopped by to visit the APAM Department during the SEAS Alumni Reunion weekend in May 2018. Kopacz, who earned her Ph.D. in applied mathematics and atmospheric chemistry at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, currently works as program manager in NOAA’s Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, and Climate (AC4) Competitive Research Program. For more information, please see: "Program manager in NOAA’s Climate Office helps research projects take flight"

Larry Lagin (B.S. '73, Applied Physics) retired four years ago as deputy program manager in charge of the engineering team for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). Since graduating Columbia, Larry spent over a 40-year career as a scientist and engineer, more than 32 years of which devoted towards fusion energy research at Princeton University and Livermore. While an undergraduate applied physics major at Columbia, he also took many courses liberal arts courses including painting and sculpting. Since retiring, Larry continued his art studies at UC Berkeley Extension, and has recently completed a graduate certificate program in visual arts specializing in painting there. He now is a resident artist and has a small art studio at the Bothwell Arts Center in Livermore, and has begun selling his art at local art fairs.*

Hening Liu (M.S. '18, Materials Science & Engineering) writes: “After graduation, I mainly worked under Professor Chan's research group. I just got a job offer from the company ASML in San Jose, California. I am excited!”*

Hande Özturk
(Ph.D. '15, Materials Science and Engineering), a former student of Prof. I.C. Noyan,  is now a tenure-track assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Özyeğin University in Istanbul, Turkey.

Manju Prakash (Ph.D. ’85, Plasma Physics) writes: “My graduate studies at Columbia University prepared me for a career in academia both as an innovative researcher and an innovative educator. Currently, I am teaching physics courses at Hofstra University, New York and involved in outreach activities in nanoscience at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL). As a researcher, I am investigating the nonlinear dynamics and turbulence effects in gravitational- wave forms within the framework of Einstein’s General Relativity. These gravitational waves were observed by LIGO and led to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. I am also associated with Fermi National laboratory in the g-2 experiment designed to resolve the experimental and theoretical discrepancy between the values of the anomalous magnetic moment of a muon.”*

Edl Schamiloglu (B.S. ’79, M.S..’81, Applied Physics) Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been selected as associate dean for research and innovation at the University of New Mexico School of Engineering where he has been a faculty since 1988. He has also been appointed Special Assistant to the Provost for Laboratory Relations.*

Akihisa "Aki" Sekiguchi (Ph.D. '91, Applied Physics - Plasma Physics) recently visited the APAM Department to see Prof. Michael Mauel and the Plasma Lab. Aki is the Deputy Division General Manager of the Corporate Innovation Division at Tokyo Electron Limited (TEL). He is also the Corporate Marketing GM in charge of device technology at TEL. Prior to joining TEL 11 years ago, he worked at IBM Semiconductor Research and Development Center (IBM SRDC) in East Fishkill, New York, for 17 years. At IBM, he worked on process technology development (DRAM, logic) mostly on unit process and module process development (FEOL to BEOL including lithography). During his last three years at IBM, he was the Process Technology Transfer Manager for the "Cell" project (Sony, IBM, Play Station 3) working on all aspects of semiconductor process technology from substrate to final shipped product quality control. He earned B.S. and M. Eng. in Applied & Engineering Physics from Cornell University, M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Columbia University, and an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business, New York University. His past notable speeches include key notes at SPIE, EUVL Symposium and SEMICON CHINA among others. He is also a member of SEMI Board of Industry Leaders as well as the SEMI CTO Forum representing Tokyo Electron.

Francesca Terenzi (Ph.D. '09, Applied Mathematics) stopped by the APAM Department this fall to visit with faculty. She is currently a Senior Principal Catastrophe Risk Modeler at Risk Management Solutions, Inc. in London.

Yutian Wu (Ph.D. '12, Applied Mathematics) is an atmospheric scientist and Lamont Associate Research Professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, who studies the general circulation of the atmosphere, including jet streams, storm tracks, and monsoon circulation, using observations and numerical model simulations. She was featured in the article, "Yutian Wu: Assessing the Impact of Declining Arctic Sea Ice on Extreme Weather" by the Center for Climate and Life.

John Wright, (B.S. '91, Applied Physics) is a recipient of a 2018 Landau-Spitzer Award from the American Physical Society (APS) "for experimental verification, through collaborative experiments, of a novel and highly efficient ion cyclotron resonance heating scenario for plasma heating and generation of energetic ions in magnetic fusion devices." "Dr. Wright is a principal scientist at MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center. He received his B.S. in applied physics from Columbia University in 1991 and his Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University in 1998. His research is in developing and applying new capabilities in radio frequency simulations that contribute to improved understanding of the theory and experiments in wave-particle interactions in plasmas. These physics advances have been accompanied by contributions in computer science, including advanced parallel linear algebra algorithms, integrated multi-physics simulation frameworks, and a Web-based approach to workflow, data, and provenance tracking. He is active in several international and multi-institutional domestic collaborations focused on improving the understanding of radio frequency actuators in tokamaks and stellarators." (APS)

Mutian Zhang (M.S. '03 and Ph.D. '08, Medical Physics - Dissertation with Distinction), is a Chief Medical Physicist of Radiation Therapy at the Summa Health Cancer Institute in Akron, OH, where he leads a medical physics and radiation dosimetry team. He has worked in the fields of radiation oncology, nuclear medicine, and health physics for more than twenty years and gained invaluable research experience at the Institute of High Energy Physics, Columbia University, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Before joining the Summa Health Cancer Institute, Dr. Zhang was an Associate Professor with the Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, as well as the director of Radiation Oncology Residency Program. Dr. Zhang is certified by the American Board of Radiology in therapeutic medical physics and was elected the 2020 President of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) Penn-Ohio Chapter.

Yuxiang Zhu (M.S. '18, Materials Science & Engineering) is purusing a Ph.D. in Materials Science at the University of Houston.*

* Originally published by Columbia Engineering Magazine


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