Dr. Erika Brown is the Bridge Program Manager at the American Physical Society (APS) in College Park, Maryland. In this capacity, Brown works with members of the physics community to promote diversity by helping underrepresented minorities successfully transition into physics Ph.D. programs.
Prior to coming to APS, Dr. Brown completed her postdoctoral training at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, studying the importance of specific genetic factors on mammalian inner ear development. During her time at Emory, Dr. Brown was an NIH-funded fellow within the Fellowships in Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) program, developing and teaching several new courses on hearing at the all women’s HBCU, Spelman College. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from Brown University, while studying the behavioral and central effects of lateral-line sensory deprivation in bullfrog tadpoles. She is also a proud alum of Spelman College.
Dr. Liz Brown is a social psychologist at the University of North Florida. Her research includes understanding group differences, goals and motivation, system justification, social change, educational psychology, and political psychology in the STEM fields. Dr. Brown received her Ph.D. in social psychology from Miami University in 2011. She was a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at Montana State University from 2012-2014 working on Project Cure (The Culture of Undergraduate Research Experiences) before coming to UNF in 2015. She is a co-recipient of the Graduate Student Research Award at the Midwestern Psychological Association (May 2011), a recipient of the Graduate School Dissertation Award, Miami University (November 2010), the co-recipient of the Unger-Freize Poster Award at the Association for Women in Psychology (February 2010), and the recipient of the Love of Learning Award, Phi Kappa Phi (August 2007).
Dr. Marta Dark McNeese is an Associate Professor of Physics at Spelman College. She attended the University of Virginia, where she received a BS in Physics. She received the Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working in Laser Biomedical Research Center. She completed a postdoctoral appointment at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. Her research interests are in laser interactions with biological tissues and electro-optical effects in biomolecules. She has advised more than 30 undergraduate research students in experimental and computational biophysics research. She is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. She has also co-chaired the Chemical and Biological Physics section of the National Society of Black Physicists. She has a passion for educational outreach, having volunteered for AAAS STEM Talks and sharing the physics of light, color and sound with local Atlanta elementary school students.
Dr. Patrice Jackson-Edwards is currently a high school teacher in Jacksonville, Florida, at Edward H. White Military Academy of Leadership. Dr. Jackson earned a Ph.D. in physics from Florida A&M University in Tallahassee in 2015. At FAMU, Jackson-Edwards conducted interdisciplinary research projects with the Department of Physics and the School of the Environment. Her doctoral research involved the use of K-shell X-ray Fluorescence (KXRF) to measure lead levels in the patella and tibia of human bones. Dr. Jackson is passionate about the importance of education, saying “I would like to offer that same help to someone else and possibly spark their interests in the fields of science. There’s nothing better than the look on a student’s face when they finally figure something out. For you to be a part of that is very rewarding as an educator.
Dr. Gabriela González is a physicist working on the discovery of gravitational waves with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) team. She was born in Córdoba, Argentina, studied physics at the University of Córdoba, and pursued her Ph.D. in Syracuse University, obtained in 1995. She worked as a staff scientist in the LIGO group at MIT until 1997, when she joined the faculty at Penn State. In 2001 she joined the faculty at LSU, where she is a professor of physics and astronomy. She has received awards from the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. She has been a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration since it was funded in 1997, served as the elected LSC spokesperson in 2011-2017, and is known for participating in the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves in 2016. Her work has focused on LIGO instrument development (especially reducing noise sources and tuning alignment systems) and LIGO data calibration and diagnostics, critical to increasing the astrophysical reach of data analysis methods.
Dr. Laura H. Greene is the Francis Eppes Professor of Physics at Florida State University, chief scientist at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab), and current president of the American Physical Society (APS). She received her BS from Ohio State, worked at Hughes Aircraft, and then received her PhD in 1984 from Cornell. After nine years at Bell Labs and subsequently Bellcore, she joined the Physics faculty at the University of Illinois. Greene’s research in experimental condensed matter physics investigates high-temperature superconductors, which hold great promise for future energy applications. Dr. Greene is also a champion for diversity and is active in promoting equal rights for women and minorities. She is a member of the Department of State supported COACh team, an organization for assisting in the success and impact of women scientists and engineers.
Dr. Jasmine O. Graham is a medical physics resident at the Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center. She received a BS in physics from South Carolina State University in 2011 and a PhD in Applied Physics with Medical Physics Concentration from the University of South Florida in 2016. Dr. Oliver was the first black woman to earn a PhD in Applied Physics from USF. Following graduation, Dr. Oliver completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UF Health Cancer Center where she commissioned and characterized the AIRO Mobile CT Scanner for image-guided proton therapy. Dr. Oliver acknowledges the support of her advisors and mentors from USF and SCSU. Her motto is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me”. It is Dr. Oliver’s lifelong goal to mentor and encourage young women to enter the physics profession and to improve the clinical outcomes and cancer survival rates of all patients, especially those from underrepresented groups.
Dr. Lastrapes has taught as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Foundations & Secondary Education (FSE) at the University of North Florida since fall 2007. She also serves as program area leader of the foundations prerequisite and core courses and is FSE’s faculty-in-residence at Sandalwood High School. Her teaching and administrative experiences include the public school, university, and community college settings. From 1998 to 2000, she served as the director of the Office of Teacher Education Services at Old Dominion University where she directed educational field placements, teacher education advising services and the teacher licensure process. More recently, Dr. Lastrapes was program coordinator of urban secondary education initiatives with the University of Florida Alliance from 2001-2006. She worked with six high schools in Miami, Orlando, and Jacksonville, FL. Her teaching and research interests include cultural sensitivity and perspectives of pre-service and in-service teachers, multicultural curricula initiatives in secondary urban schools, and mentoring and retention of urban teachers. She currently serves as a past president of the Florida Association of Teacher Educators, treasurer of the Multicultural Education Special Interest Group of the Association of Teacher Educators (ATE) and is a member of ATE’s Research Committee.
Mr. Mantovani is a veteran math and physics teacher at a public magnet high school. He has taught all levels including AP courses. In 2015 he received his B.S. from UNF in Physics where he also worked as a research assistant studying crystalline structure and thermal hysteresis of the magnetic semiconductor InMn4-xSe using x-ray diffraction techniques under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Pekarek.
Kate Oldak is an orbital analyst at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. She processes and analyzes satellite data using orbital mechanics and network systems analysis. She uses algorithms and software tools to provide accurate satellite position data for the Global Positioning System (GPS). Previously, Kate was a physics lecturer at Towson University, teaching introductory level physics courses. Kate received her M.A. in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 2011 and her B.S. in physics from Case Western Reserve University in 2009. After receiving her M.A. degree, Kate returned to her hometown of Warsaw, Poland and taught English to local students for one year. Kate is fluent in Polish and German and enjoys playing the flute in her spare time.
Dr. Talat Rahman is the Pegasus Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida. She leads a research group focused on theoretical and computational modeling of complex materials including nanostructured surfaces and biomaterials such as peptides and proteins. The importance of this field is both technological (thin-film growth, nanotechnology for drug delivery, novel materials, catalysis, corrosion, lubrication, etc.) and fundamental. It raises questions about the nature of the bonding between atoms and molecules. As chair of UCF’s physics department, Dr. Rahman led the implementation of new physics education strategies at UCF, enhancing retention and graduation rates of students from historically underrepresented groups. She received a BS in Physics with Honors from Karachi University, her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Rochester, and completed a postdoc in surface physics at the University of California, Irvine, before joining the faculty at Kansas State University. Dr. Rahman joined the Physics Department at UCF as chair in 2006.
Andrew Rush is President & CEO of Silicon Valley-based Made In Space, Inc. He oversees the operations, business development, and strategy of Made In Space as it continues to push boundaries of manufacturing technology in space, at sea, and in other extreme environments for government, commercial, and defense customers. Previously, Andrew worked in the intellectual property, business and ground crew/launch prep organizations at Masten Space Systems. Before becoming an attorney, he was a research assistant in a Solid State Physics Laboratory at the University of North Florida. He currently serves on the Physics Advisory Group from UNF. Andrew received a B.S. in physics from UNF in 2009 and a J.D. from Stetson University in 2012. He is also a recipient of the Young Alumni Achievement Award from UNF.