Alumni News

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How are you doing? Where are you now? How did a degree in physics from WMU help you? 

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2016 Alumni Achievement Award, Physics

Joan de Vries KelleyThe WMU College of Arts and Sciences recognized Joan de Vries Kelley with its 2016 Alumni Achievement Award in Physics. Kelley taught science, physics and mathematics for 4 years before beginning a long career working at IBM. As a system programmer, she worked on accounting, performance and recovery components of the operating system. In 1990, she joined the team that created Parallel Sysplex, a cluster of up to 32 IBM mainframes acting together as a single system image to share workloads for high performance and high availability. 

Computing skills learned in physics research enabled her to design tests, create measurement tools, identify and resolve problems and publish performance results for this product. She made a number of presentations at technical conferences, both domestically and internationally. For her eff­orts, she was promoted to Senior Technical Staff­ Member, the first woman to receive that honor in the performance organization, and was awarded a Corporate Award, the highest level of award given by IBM.

Past award winners in physics

Alumni profiles

Enrique GamezEnrique Gamez

Shortly after graduating with a B.S. in physics from WMU, Gamez won a highly competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which covers three years of graduate school tuition and provides a generous stipend. 

Now pursuing his doctoral degree in theoretical particle and astrophysics at the University of Michigan, Gamez is especially interested in studying the mysteries of dark matter. Dark matter accounts for five times as much mass in the universe as ordinary matter, but has thus far evaded efforts to detect it directly.

Dr. David HoogerheideDavid Hoogerheide

With undergraduate degrees in physics and chemistry from WMU, Hoogerheide earned his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University with research in surface chemistry and the stochastic dynamics of ions in nanopores. Hoogerheide stayed at Harvard, turning to nanopore-based studies of the dynamics of DNA molecules. 

After Harvard came a joint research associateship between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health. His current work at the NIST focuses on neutron reflectometry of membrane proteins.

Sarah HulbertSarah Hulbert

After earning her B.S. in physics from WMU, Hulbert went on to graduate study in biophysics at The Ohio State University. During her first semester there, she published a paper with her advisor on diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease using new EEG and imaging analysis methodologies.

Hulbert’s research uses concepts from physics, such as chaos theory, to analyze complex brain signals. She hopes her work will improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain system diseases.

Dr. Marc HumphreyMarc Humphrey

Since earning his B.S. in physics and applied mathematics from WMU and his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University, Humphrey has applied his training in unconventional ways, such as working as a Peace Corps volunteer and as a computer programmer with the Centers for Disease Control in Mali.

Humphrey then turned his attention to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, working at the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Energy and most recently at the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

For more alumni profiles, see our careers page.

Alumni updates

Western Michigan University physics alumni are pursuing exciting careers around the globe.

  • Shahin Abdel Naby (Ph.D. 2010) is an assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Dan Adams (M.A. 2008) is a cleaning and metrology engineer with Dow Corning, Midland, Michigan.
  • Mohammad Al-Amar (Ph.D. 2011) is serving as a post-doctoral researcher associate at the University of Toronto, Canada.
  • Salem AlFaidy (Ph.D. 2011) is an assistant professor at King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia.
  • Ali Alnaser (Ph.D. 2002) is associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Katie Ballman (B.S. 2012) is an applications engineer in the Advanced Optics Division of Corning.
  • Ian Brown (B.S. 2016) is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology, and Astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
  • Dennis Chitko (B.S. 2015) builds femtosecond fiber laser systems for IMRA America in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Tamer Elkafrawy (Ph.D. 2012) is a postdoctoral research associate at the CMS, CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Xuan Gao (Ph.D. 2013) teaches at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chongqing, China.
  • Subramanian Ganapathy (Ph.D. 2013) is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Bangalore, India.
  • Elias Garratt (Ph.D. 2013) is working as a postdoctoral research associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
  • Khalil Hamam (Ph.D. 2013) is an assistant professor in the Applied Physics Department at Tafila Technical University in Jordan.
  • M.  Fatih Hasoglu (Ph.D. 2008) is an associate professor at Hasan Kalyoncu University in Gaziantep, Turkey.
  • Kevan Hess (B.S. 2012) is working alongside his father in real estate with Jaqua Realtors, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Mady Higinbotham  (B.S. 2015) is a sensing systems engineer at Evigia in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • William Hollerman (M.A. 1985) is a professor of physics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
  • Darshika Keerthisinghe (Ph.D. 2015) is an instructor of physics at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
  • Joan DeVries Kelley (M.A 1970) worked for IBM for 34 years as a system programmer specializing in large mainframes.
  • C. Nalaka Kodituwakku (Ph.D. 2007) is a scientist with Exelis Optics in New York.
  • Katrina Koehler (M.A. 2014) is a researcher in the Nuclear Engineering Nonproliferation Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
  • Vladislav Malyshkin (Ph.D. 1997) is a senior scientist at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Scott Marley (Ph.D. 2012) is an assistant professor of physics at Louisiana State University.
  • Manjula Nandasiri (Ph.D. 2013) is a postdoctoral research associate in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington.
  • Adam Newton (B.S. 2014) is employed by General Electric Aviation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • John Novak (B.S. 2010) develops analytics for auditors in his position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Andra Petrean (Ph.D. 2000) is associate professor of physics at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
  • Daniel Renusch (Ph.D. 1999) is an engineer with General Electric in Fairfield, Connecticut.
  • Ayman Said (Ph.D. 2004) is a staff scientist with Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois.
  • Valentina Tobos (Ph.D. 2001) is an associate professor of physics at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.
  • Michelle Tuel (M.A. 2004) works in business operations for Boeing in the state of Washington.
  • Lucian Undreiu (Ph.D. 2005) is an associate professor of physics at University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia.
  • Samanthi Wickramarachchi (Ph.D. 2015) is an instructor of physics at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

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