Graduate Student Profiles

Graduate Student Research

2018 Graduate Research Award Winners

Evan Angelico

Evan is interested in attacking the big questions in particle physics. What is the Dirac/Majorana nature of the neutrino? What are the masses of the neutrinos? Is there a composite structure to the Higgs boson? Is dark matter an Axion-like particle? He is approaching these questions by developing state-of-the-art detector technologies to ensure that the next generation of particle detectors can probe physics with orders of magnitude more sensitivity. Currently, Evan works with Henry Frisch and others on Large Area Picosecond Photodetectors, a photodetector technology with picosecond timing resolution on charged particles that would qualitatively change the research methods used in physics at neutrino detectors, collider detectors, and could drastically reduce cost and dosage in medical imaging technology. Evan enjoys spreading a love for instrumentation and hardware to undergraduate lab students. He is also an active Chicago musician and currently exploring artistic expression through sculpture and dance. [back to the top.]

Claire Baum

Claire emerged from the cornfields of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) after acquiring her BS in physics. During her time at UIUC, Claire was leader of the Physics Student Advisory Board, president of the Society for Women in Physics, and a researcher for the Muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab. After doing an REU in optics at the University of Florida and getting the best tan of her life, she realized playing with lasers was much more enticing than coding simulations. Now, Claire is a first year grad student in the Simon Lab working to create photonic fractional quantum Hall systems — “materials made of light” — to understand why materials do what they do. Claire is super excited to be at UChicago and is enjoying the cool research, ping pong tournaments, and bountiful free food opportunities for hungry grad students like herself. [back to the top.]

Zoheyr Doctor

Zoheyr is a PhD candidate working in the Holz Group at UChicago. His research focuses on the astrophysics of gravitational-wave sources. Zoheyr uses theoretical, computational, and data-analysis techniques to understand the implications of mergers of black holes and neutron stars. He has published papers on optical signatures of binary mergers, morphology of gravitational-waves, and implications of neutron star mergers on heavy-element synthesis. [back to the top.]

Mark DiTusa

Mark is a third year PhD candidate working in the laboratory of Dr. Shrayesh Patel at the University of Chicago in the Institute for Molecular Engineering. Mark uses his backgrounds in physics and chemistry to study functional polymers for energy conversion and storage applications. In particular, he is studying the dynamics of molecularly doping conjugated polymers for their use in organic semiconductors and other electronic applications. Mark also loves using his background as a college radio DJ to make science media for a broad audience, and is currently collaborating with STAGELab in the IME at UChicago to further his interest in science education. [back to the top.]

Nicholas Frontiere

Nicholas has been an employee for the Department of Energy for the last 9 years. His work initially studied ionospheric propagation of electromagnetic pulses (EMP) at Los Alamos National Laboratory under Dr. Edward Fenimore. The focus was full end-to-end simulations of EMP events and satellite constellation responses -- including triggering, compression, telemetry, analysis, and identification. After coming to the University of Chicago physics graduate program, his research was relocated to Argonne National Laboratory under Dr. Salman Habib, where he currently studies numerical cosmology. Their emphasis lies in running state of the art supercomputing simulations on the large-scale structure formation of the universe: their simulations evolve trillions of particles governed by gravity and hydrodynamic fluid equations. One of his first significant contributions was toward developing a novel hydrodynamic particle solver dubbed Conservative Reproducing Kernel SPH (CRKSPH) that is a higher order variation of the commonly used smoothed particle hydrodynamics technique. [back to the top.]

Kaeli Hughes

Kaeli is a second-year graduate student working with Professor Abigail Vieregg on experimental particle astrophysics. Her projects are focused on detecting radio signals created by interacting neutrinos at energies above 10^18 eV. Because neutrinos are light and interact rarely, they are capable of traveling extremely long distances, making them an excellent messenger for distant space. So far, many of these experiments take place in Antarctica, although preliminary tests are being done to determine if a mountaintop detector in California could also yield interesting results. This year, Kaeli will be traveling to both California and Antarctica to assist with deployment and testing of two separate long-term projects. Kaeli got her Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Physics from The Ohio State University. In her spare time, she likes to play piano and train for half marathons. [back to the top.]

Katrina Miller

Katrina is a PhD candidate in the physics department at the University of Chicago. She is a recipient of the 2018 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship as well as the 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Katrina has a passion for probing unsolved mysteries at the intersection of particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. Upon her arrival to the University of Chicago, she joined the XENON collaboration to contribute to detection efforts of theoretically-motivated dark matter candidates largely overlooked in favor of WIMPs. Specifically, she investigated single-electron events in the XENON1T detector as a source of low-energy background that could mask potential dark matter signals interacting via electronic, rather than nuclear, recoil. Katrina recently transitioned into Professor David Schmitz’s research group to study how neutrinos interact with matter and the possible existence of sterile neutrinos as a part of the Short Baseline Neutrino (SBN) Program. [back to the top.]

Nathan Schine

Nathan is a sixth year physics PhD candidate working to synthesize exotic quantum materials made of light. He grew up in Nashville, TN and went to undergrad at Williams College, majoring in physics. Upon coming to UChicago he joined the lab of Jonathan Simon, where he uses atomic and optical physics techniques to develop interesting topological states of light and to engineer strong repulsive interactions between individual photons. The focus of the final year of his graduate work is combining these ingredients to study the physics of fractional quantum Hall materials. Nathan lives with his wife in Hyde Park, and in his free time enjoys cooking, reading, and practicing Taekwondo. [back to the top.]

Hassan Shapourian

Hassan is a PhD candidate in theoretical physics supervised by Professor Shinsei Ryu, studies topological properties and quantum information aspects of quantum condensed matter systems. Quantum phases of matter are known to exhibit several exotic behaviors beyond classical physics including the quantum entanglement which describes a web of non-local correlations among the constituents of the system. Topological phases of matter refer to a class of quantum phases with some unique entanglement patterns. Such patterns of quantum entanglement are not only interesting from fundamental perspective but also can be used as a resource for performing computations beyond classical algorithms. In his recent projects, Hassan combined ideas from topological quantum field theory and quantum information theory to devise new tools for measuring entanglement and characterizing topological properties in fermionic systems. He holds a Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University and received his bachelor’s in Physics and Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. [back to the top.]

Menachem Stern

Nachi is a 5th year graduate student in professor Arvind Murugan’s group. He received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in physics from Tel Aviv University, studying dynamics and thermodynamics of simplified glass forming material models. In Chicago, he first took interest in the dynamics of dense suspensions, working in conjunction with professors Zhang and Jaeger. He then transitioned to the Murugan group, where his research focuses on the formation and design of complex energy landscapes in self-organizing systems. These systems, ranging from self-assembled ensembles to folding proteins, are examples of glassy (complex) systems where interactions between individual constituents give rise to frustrated landscapes containing exponentially many stable states. His research specifically targets mechanical systems such as spring networks and self-folding origami. Studying fundamental questions on the design of energy landscapes in these systems, he attempts to gain insight relevant to diverse domains from metamaterial engineering through complexity theory to (machine-)learning. [back to the top.]

Rui Zou

Rui is a 5th year graduate student working with Professor Young-Kee Kim. Her research interest lies in looking for answers to the most fundamental questions in the universe using high-energy physics, particularly, questions about dark matter particles and the Higgs boson. If dark matter particles interact with Standard Model particles, there is a chance they could be produced at the LHC. The discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012 raised many questions around its properties and enabled us to use it to probe new physics. She is particularly involved in searching for dark matter particles produced at the LHC via the Higgs boson using the ATLAS detector. The accuracy of the measurement of Missing Transverse Energy (MET) is crucial to searching for particles invisible to the detector. She is interested in developing more efficient MET triggers in the High Level Trigger (HLT) system and exploring MET reconstruction algorithms for physics studies. She also enjoys solving the technical challenges raised by the FastTracKer (FTK) system in ATLAS, which does full tracking of the detector in the hardware and improves the efficiency of various triggers including the MET trigger. [back to the top.]