Orange Alert

Alumni Updates: December 2020

Posted on: Nov. 24, 2020

We invite you to share any update or accomplishments. We want to hear about your professional achievements. We also welcome announcements of marriages and family additions. Fill out our alumni updates submission form to share your news.


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Jamila Bashir Butt ’06 Ph.D. after completing her Ph.D., she worked as a postdoc at the National Centre for Physics (NCP) in Islamabad Pakistan (2006-2009). Afterwards, she completed another postdoc position at the University of Nebraska, USA (2009-2012). From 2012 until 2014, she joined NCP as a Senior Scientific Officer. From 2006 until 2014, she was an associated with CMS experiment at CERN. In 2014, she joined COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI) as an Assistant Professor. Since 2014, she has been associated with ALICE experiment at CERN.

She is glad that she chose Physics department at Syracuse University for her PhD because it taught her Physics as well as how to be a better person. Syracuse University overall helped her to become what she is today. She is very thankful to her professors, staff, and colleagues at Physics department for being supportive and kind during her graduate studies. She is especially thankful for her Ph.D. supervisor Prof. Tomasz Skwarnicki for everything. She wishes a happy future for everybody at Syracuse.

Augustine Ei-fong Chen ’85 Ph.D. is currently a Professor,

Dept of Physics at the Detector Center at the National Central University Chung-li, Taoyuan in Taiwan. His recent projects go back to his Ph.D. work. Experimental High Energy Physics has been his life career, though part of his time was dedicated to the detector and its application to proton therapy. Learn more about Dr. Chen’s work.

Shahnewaz M Emtiaz ’20 Ph.D. accepted a position at Advanced Semiconductor Material Limited (ASML). He joined the company in October this year as a Senior Design Engineer. His company manufactures machines that are integral for the productions of integrated circuits. The company is in San Jose, CA.

Jessica Esquivel ’18 Ph.D. is a postdoctoral researcher at Fermilab. She is leader and co-organizer of the #BlackInPhysics Week.

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Sarosh N. Fatakia ’99 M.S. (below) works on theoretical and computational molecular evolution, distilling BigData from inter-disciplinary Biological Sciences. His work is focused on exploring and understanding the evolution of amino acid sequence plasticity within diverse protein families, such as G protein-coupled receptors. Read more about Mr. Fatakia’s research here.

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Peter J. Evans, William R. Frederickson scholar ’88 B.S., recently celebrated his fifteenth year at BAE Systems in Nashua, NH where he is currently employed as an engineering manager in the Countermeasures and Electromagnetic Attack business area. Highlights of his tenure at BAE Systems include two US patents and leading the design of the world’s first HD-format uncooled microbolometer infrared camera. Outside work Peter enjoys motorcycling, trap shooting, and playing the guitar. Peter married his Syracuse sweetheart Kiki Bolle in 1997 and currently resides in Windham, NH with their two children.

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Taviare Hawkins ’09 Ph.D. (below) is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse.

2019 US Open (Syracuse Alumni Event) Pictured Left to right Gabriella Hawkins Salgado (daughter), Steluta Dinca (PhD 2010), and me.

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Dave LaGraffe, ’85, G’90 is currently a member of the Senior Executive Service at the Department of Energy and the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s Deter and Disrupt Program at the National Nuclear Security Administration. His program delivers technical capabilities and solutions to the U.S. Government to deter nuclear proliferation and defeat security threats. The program sustains and advances U.S. nuclear forensics and counterproliferation capabilities and harnesses technological innovations to enhance and support U.S. nuclear security and the NNSA mission.

He retired as a Colonel in the U.S. Army in 2013. On active duty, he was a Signal Corps Platoon Leader and Company Commander. He taught physics at West Point and later nuclear engineering (?!) at the Air Force Institute of Technology. He was a Secretary of Defense Fellow at Sarnoff Corporation in Princeton, NJ working in “Video Valley”. He was also on the U.S. delegation for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) negotiations with the Russian Federation in Geneva, Switzerland. He conducted readiness assessments of the Nation’s nuclear command and control system for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He says, “It hasn’t been a traditional physics career, but I’ve used my physics in many ways and many jobs.”

He resides in Northern Virginia with his wife Leora. They are fast approaching our 29th anniversary!

Wes Miles'06 B.S. is the founder and singer of the indie rock band Ra Ra Riot. They were nominated for the 10th annual Independent Music Awards in the Pop/Rock Album category. Some of band songs have been featured on commercials and TV shows. They have released several studio albums and have toured the US and internationally. The band is still active and making music. In this 2010 "Songwriters on Process article, Wes talks about how physics helps him as a musician.

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David Owen ’72 (below) is using Newtonian physics as part of the crew of the 143-year-old tall ship Elissa out of Galveston, Texas.

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Diane Portugal ’19 B.S. graduated from SU physics last May. She is currently pursuing a Master of Landscape Architecture degree at SUNY ESF as an AAUW Fellow. She will be studying design, ecology, and cultural histories. As a landscape architect, she hopes to preserve marginalized cultures, contribute to a sustainable world, and challenge herself creatively.

She is grateful for her time with the SU physics department because it gave her the confidence to tackle new and complex ideas. Being a fast learner is a crucial skill in any field. She would be happy to give back by advising undergraduate students interested in majoring in Physics.

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Paul A. Weekes B.S. He earned a BS degree in Physics from Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY, and spent his business career in Information Technology Management with several large U.S. Corporations. His employment involved residing in Syracuse, NY; Corning, NY; Wallingford, CT; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Chicago IL; Austin, TX; and included extensive domestic and international travel. He is now retired from Motorola as the Managing Director of Internet Products Operation in Austin, TX, and has since relocated to an oceanfront home in Rosarito Beach, BC, Mexico. He is past President of the United Society of Baja California and has been actively involved in other community support organizations, including Cruz Roja (the Red Cross) and the Flying Samaritans. His wife, Linda, passed away in 2015. He has two sons (Justin and Jonathan) who both live in Connecticut. He published a book on Jesus Christ. His book Seeks to understand the historical Jesus and His Original Teachings.


Jay N. Zemel ’49 B.S., ’52 M.S. and ’55 Ph.D. retired in 1997 but have remained technically active to the present, happily! Currently, he is the Technical Director of Neoneur LLC, a start-up company that is commercializing patents developed recently at Penn with a professor in the Penn Nursing School. This project employs a device they designed that monitors the oral feeding (nursing) characteristics of premature and at-risk neonates. The purpose of the system is to evaluate their neurological and feeding status and progress.


Bernd Bruegmann, ’93 Ph.D. was selected as a 2020 Fellow of the American Physical Society for important contributions to numerical relativity, including the development of preeminent techniques for the numerical modeling of black holes and neutron stars, as well as pioneering simulations of compact binary mergers.

The University of Iowa University honored Vincent Rodgers ‘85, professor, and Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Iowa, by awarding him the Iowa President and Provost Award for Teaching Excellence 2019. Dr. Rodgers was also selected as a 2020 Fellow of the American Physical Society for significant, wide-ranging, contributions to outreach and engagement promoting the understanding and appreciation of physics to diverse audiences.



Amber Lenon ’19 M.S. and current doctoral candidate, was published in an article at Physics World entitled Achieving a healthy work–life balance as a graduate student.

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