Executive Committee

Committee Member Biographies

Benjamin Ueland, Past Chair

Benjamin Ueland

Ben Ueland is a condensed matter physicist specializing in neutron and x-ray scattering studies of strongly correlated electron materials. He earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the Pennsylvania State University in 2007 for work examining cooperative magnetic relaxation in geometrically frustrated oxides via very-low-temperature magnetization, magnetic susceptibility, and heat capacity measurements.  He joined the NIST Center for Neutron Research in 2007 as an NRC Postdoctoral Associate to learn neutron scattering techniques while examining multiferroic and magnetoresistive materials. In 2010, he moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory and became a G. T. Seaborg Institute Postdoctoral Associate where he studied magnetic frustration effects in actinide compounds. He joined Ames Laboratory at the Iowa State University in 2012 and is currently an Associate Scientist in the Magnetic Interactions and Excitations in Quantum Materials group and the Center for the Advancement of Topological Semimetals.

Shaowei Li, Chair

Shaowei Li

Shaowei Li is a Heising-Simons Postdoctoral Fellow in the Physics Department, University of California Berkeley. His research focuses on developing a novel imaging technique combining laser and a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) to shatter the diffraction limit and probe the inhomogeneous properties in low dimensional materials. The desire for observing finer details using optical microscopy particularly in bio-science and material-science is pushing technology developments beyond the diffraction limit. The coupling of photon excitation with electron tunneling at the junction of a scanning tunneling microscope combines the femtosecond sensitivity of a laser and the Angstrom resolution of tunneling electrons. The joint fs-A resolution will provide a new window for viewing the unique ultrafast dynamics of individual nano-scale objects.  Shaowei received his Ph.D. in physics from UC Irvine in 2017. Prior to that, he received his bachelor's degree in physics from Nankai University in 2010. He spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University before joining UC Berkeley. His past work involves probing the physical and chemical properties of single molecules and low-dimensional materials with optical techniques and STM.

Adam Iaizzi, Chair-Elect

Adam Iaizzi

Adam Iaizzi, who is finishing his term as a FECS Member-at-Large this year, is a condensed matter physicist focused on using computational methods, chiefly quantum Monte Carlo, to understand quantum phase transitions in magnetic materials. Adam earned his PhD from Boston University in 2018; his dissertation, “Magnetic field effects in low-temperature quantum magnets”, won a Springer Thesis Award. After his PhD, he worked as a postdoc at National Taiwan University. Like many early career scientists, Adam is now exploring nontraditional career options. This year he was selected for a highly-competitive AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship and has been placed in the Department of Energy Office of High Energy Physics, where he will work on the international legal agreements that support international scientific collaborations like the LHC.

Kevin Ludwick, Treasurer

Kevin Ludwick

Kevin Ludwick obtained his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After a two-year postdoc at the University of Virginia, he became an assistant professor at LaGrange College in 2015, and he is the Pre-Engineering Dual Degree advisor there. His research is in theoretical cosmology, pertaining to dark energy and dark matter models.

Shreyashi Chakdar, Secretary

Shreyashi Chakdar

Shreyashi Chakdar received her BSc in Physics honors from Lady Brabourne College, University of Calcutta and MSc in Physics from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Roorkee in India before completing PhD in theoretical particle physics from Oklahoma State University. Later she transitioned to University of Virginia as a Pirrung postdoctoral fellow and Colby College, Maine as a visiting assistant professor. Currently she is serving as an Assistant Professor (tenure track faculty position) in the Physics department, College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. At Holy Cross Physics department, she established the DARK𝜈EST research lab which studies theoretical particle physics with an emphasis on model building and collider phenomenology in the sector of Beyond the Standard Model (BSM) physics on dark matter, neutrinos, cosmology, astroparticle physics and effective field theories. Chakdar has taught courses all across the undergraduate curriculum, both within and outside the physics major requirements and is an advocate for learning physics using active learning methods and making physics accessible to everyone. She is the founder of the Women in Physics at Holy Cross and leads the group’s various activities providing support, mentorship, and career development opportunities to all its members and is a strong proponent to foster diversity and inclusion in physics. Other than FECS, she is also a member of the Forum for Diversity and Inclusion (FDI) and American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and she has co-organized the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) several times in the past.

Wennie Wang, Member-at-Large

Wennie Wang

Wennie Wang is a computational materials scientist and currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Pritzker Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago. She earned her B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering at MIT in 2013 and her PhD in the Materials Department from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2018. Her research interests include first-principles methods for energy applications and currently encompass the study of complex oxides for water-splitting applications.

Daniel Borrero, Member-at-Large

Daniel Borrero

Daniel Borrero is originally from Bogotá, Colombia, and he holds a BS in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin and an MS and a PhD in Physics from Georgia Tech. Since 2016, Prof. Borrero has been a member of the Physics faculty at Willamette University, a small liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon. At Willamette, Prof. Borrero's group focuses on studying fluid systems with complex spatiotemporal dynamics, including studies of the transition to turbulence in linearly-stable shear flows and self-organization in bouncing drop systems. Prof. Borrero has taught courses across the Physics major and has recently been involved with departmental efforts to incorporate scientific computation and promote career readiness throughout the curriculum, especially through laboratory and hands-on undergraduate research experiences. Prof. Borrero is currently a member of the Executive Board of the Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA) and a member of the Organizing Committee for the 72nd Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics. He is also a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and has previously organized faculty development workshops on the instruction of workplace-ready skills in the undergraduate curriculum through ALPhA and the Partnership for Integration of Computation in Undergraduate Physics (PICUP).

Nicole Benker, Member-at-Large

Nicole Benker

Nicole Benker graduated with a B.S. in Physics and Mathematics in December 2018 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, during which time she was a Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) and NASA Nebraska Space Grant fellow. Her undergraduate research included a solar neutron calorimeter payload flown aboard the International Space Station for which she was the project manager and payload developer focal. Results from the experiment were published in Radiation Measurements in 2019, with other articles in preparation. Additionally, while she was completing her undergraduate studies, Nicole contributed to projects involving preparation and characterization of novel neutronvoltaic and photovoltaic devices. In her senior year, she also oversaw the development and management of a new semiconductor research laboratory specializing in the highly sensitive measurements required for the development of materials like carbon nanotube FETs. She previously worked as an operator at the ATLAS heavy ion accelerator at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) where, when not tuning ion beams, she developed upgrades for the beamline and coded utilities for the controls system. Now, Nicole works at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a physicist in the Applied Radiation Detection Group.

Eva Kostadinova, Member-at-Large

Eva Kostadinova

Eva Kostadinova obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Physics and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Furman University in 2014. She received her Doctoral degree in Physics in 2017 from Baylor University. The focus of her dissertation was employing new mathematical techniques in the study of energy transport in two-dimensional disordered systems. Her dissertation work received a Springer award for outstanding PhD research, which led to her publishing a book by Springer Nature, titled Spectral Approach to Transport Problems in Two-Dimensional Disordered Lattices.  Currently, Dr. Kostadinova works as an assistant research professor at Baylor University’s Center for Astrophysics Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). Her primary research interests lie along the intersections of fundamental physics and applied mathematics. Those include anomalous diffusion in disordered media with nonlocal interactions, self-organization and stability of dusty plasmas in gravity and microgravity, and the thermodynamics of driven-dissipative systems. A primary focus of Dr. Kostadinova’s current work is studying the dynamics of dusty plasmas in the Plasmakristall-4 facility on board the International Space Station. Kostadinova is also developing a spectral approach to the onset of turbulence in dusty plasma liquids. Most recently, her portfolio of projects has expanded to include topics related to magnetic fusion confinement, lunar dust mitigation techniques, and material ablation in extreme plasma conditions.

Taylor Juran, Communications Officer

Taylor Juran

Taylor Juran is trained as a computational physicist, currently holding a position as an Applications Scientist at Materials Design Inc., an atomistic modeling software company based out of San Diego and Paris. Earning her B.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Binghamton University, State University of New York, she has expertise in first-principles methods and solid state physics. While in graduate school, She was a recipient of the GAANN fellowship in smart energy. She has extensively studied multivalent ion battery materials. Taylor has held appointments as a student intern at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Lab and Sandia National Labs, where she worked on developing new capabilities in the field of electrolyte modeling. Taylor enjoys science communication and working towards the goal of making STEM a more inclusive and collaborative environment. She has held several roles within APS, including: Student Ambassador, APS Member Acquisition & Retention Strategy Study Group Member, and APS Career Mentoring Fellow. While in graduate school, she chaired the graduate physics journal club, and volunteered to teach pre-schoolers to code.

Mehmet Dogan, International Affairs Officer

Taylor Juran

Mehmet Dogan graduated from Middle East Technical University (Ankara, Turkey) with B.S. degrees in Physics and Mathematics in 2010. While studying at METU, he taught in the International Physics Olympiads training camps and co-founded the Science and Technology Student Group. He got his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University in 2017, where he specialized in computational materials physics, specifically structural phase transitions in thin films and interfaces. During graduate school, he was active in science outreach, and served as an instructor and judge for New Haven Science Fair between 2012 and 2017. After a 10-month delay in receiving his research scholar visa, he started a postdoctoral position at University of California, Berkeley in 2018, where he focuses on studies of two-dimensional materials and high-pressure superconductivity. Since November 2018, he has been serving as an elected Head Steward for the Union of Postdocs and Academic Researchers at UC, which represents over 11,000 researchers. In June 2020, he co-founded the International Scholars Working Group, which focuses on providing information and support to the larger postdoc community and engaging in advocacy for international scholars.