Orange Alert

Student Highlights

Posted on: Dec. 2, 2020

December 2020

In this section, we announce Ph.D. defenses, awards, and other news from current and recent graduate students from this last year .


Brandon Melcher, Ph.D. defense April 3, 2020 “Cosmological Implications of Co-Decaying Dark Matter.”

Soumi De, Ph.D. defense June 18, 2020 “Merging neutron star and black hole binaries: Inference of their parameters and hydrodynamic simulations of their formation and fate.”

Ethan Stanifer, Ph.D. defense June 25, 2020 “Investigating the relationships between disorder, structure, and dynamics in amorphous systems

Francis Toriello- Ph.D. defense July 23, 2020 “Laboratory Studies of Structural Changes in Water-Poor and Water-Rich Ices: A Connection to Molecule Formation in Interstellar Ices.”

Motahareh Larimi – Ph.D. defense July 24, 2020 “Investigating the Parameters Influencing the Sensitivity of a Protein Nanopore Sensor.”
Preeti Sahu- Ph.D. defense August 4, 2020 “Fluidization and Segregation in Confluent Models for Biological Tissues”

Kuang Liu - Ph.D. defense August 13, 2020 “Rigidity in Frictional Particle Packings and Dynamics in Living Polymeric Packings.”

Shahnewaz M. Emtiaz, Ph.D. defense September 30, 2020 “Spectroscopic Study of Ices of Astrophysical Interest.”


Last spring physics majors Beatriz Bueno Dorea, Jia Ying Ling, Shane Ryan, Kathleen McHugh, and Seif Hejazine were recognized with an award for their academic excellence. Stephen Bogan was awarded the Beardsley Award. Diane Portugal, who is now a doctoral student at SUNY ESF was awarded the Gelling Award.

Laurel White, 2020 Goldwater Scholar

Soumi De, a recent Ph.D. graduate, Awarded Los Alamos Fellowship early this year while she was a SU Physics Graduate student.

Doctoral candidates Merrill Asp, Kenneth Ratliff, and Ohana Benevides Rodrigues, selected by the Graduate School as Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants for the academic year 2020. In this time of disruption of our teaching, all our graduate teaching assistants deserve special thanks for their dedicated and skillful work with our undergraduate students.

Physics graduate students Daniel Finstad, Sarthak Gupta, and Tianna McBroom, awarded the Research Excellence Doctoral Funding Award from the graduate school.

Physics graduate students Monica Ripp and Eva Nesbit, awarded the College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Fellowship Award.


Undergraduate physics major, Laurel White, represented Syracuse University physics at a recent virtual event launching the Innovare Advancement Center about Quantum Information Science at Rome Air Force Base. At the event, Laurel was able to ask the keynote speaker, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, a wonderful question about the impacts of quantum computing on scientific inquiry. Visit the Innovare Advancement Center YouTube Channel to watch the event.

Graduate Student, Ohana Benevides Rodrigues was elected to be a Fermilab Student and Postdoc Association (FSPA) officer. She will represent the community of early career researchers at Fermilab, including all students, postdocs, summer students, and interns.

Ohana Fermilab.jpg

Physics Graduate Student Michael Wilkinson’s work with the High Energy Physics group was published at Physical Review D.

Physics Graduate Student Maxx Swoger was featured on the November 2020 Graduate School Newsletter as their Graduate Student Highlight. He was also featured in a news article at SU News profiling his work in the lab of Prof. Ali Patteson.


ROTC Cadet Isabella Lee is Mastering the Challenges of STEM .


Undergraduate Physics Major, Ruell Branch, was featured in a recent SU News article on his passion for physics and social activism.