The list below represents some of the accomplishments of our amazing Berkeley Physics undergraduate and graduate students. More to come!
Kevin Langhoff and Benjamin Concepcion
Graduate Student Instructors Kevin Langhoff and Ben Concepcion have each received an Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Award for 2021. The two were selected amongst almost 500 nominations received by the Academic Senate's Committee on Teaching. Their contributions in teaching reflect how the campus community embraced the instructional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured that students remained engaged and supported.
The Extraordinary Teaching in Extraordinary Times Award was featured at the Academic Senate’s Divisional Meeting on April 29, 2021. Descriptions of each awardee's contribution to teaching are shared on the Research, Teaching, and Learning website, and statements from each awardee are published on our news page.
Ph.D. student QinQin Yu has been selected to join the National Science Policy Network SciPol Scholars spring cohort. The Science Policy (SciPol) Scholars-in-Residence Program provides hands-on training and experiential learning opportunities for early-career scientists and engineers seeking to build and use their skills in policymaking. Scholars are selected from a competitive applicant pool to participate in a six-week bootcamp where they learn key skills in science policy, communication, and professional development. Scholars who complete the bootcamp are then eligible to be matched with host offices for a remote “residency” (internship) in which they can put their skills into practice.
In 2019, QinQin was also part of a small group of Berkeley graduate students who traveled to Washington DC to attend the AAAS Catalysing Advocacy in Science and Engineering Conference from March 24-29. This conference brought together STEM graduate students from across the US to learn about how scientists can better engage in policy, including effectively advocating for science research funding and providing expertise on policy issues.
"As the country comes to grips with our history of racism, discrimination, and violence, it has become clear that real change has to happen in the scientific community as well. The renewed conversations about equity and justice in our department inspired me to try and be a part of that change. I've always loved drawing and painting, and creating a series of portraits of influential Black physicists seemed a fun way to contribute. Researching all of the amazing physicists in this poster series was such a rewarding experience; I learned so much about a part of physics history that is often overlooked. My hope is that these posters can encourage others to learn about these amazing people, and in some small way, help increase the visibility of Black physicists and their work."
Andres Franco Valiente
"I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the help of several others along the way. Throughout my undergraduate career at Berkeley, there have been many instances where I’ve received direct advice from graduate student mentors as I tried to bridge the gap of knowledge in order to just begin to understand research papers. Often, they were other graduate students in the mathematics departments who were also interested in physics and it seemed strange to me that there wasn’t a corresponding group of physics graduate students that led independent reading projects on specialized topics. It turns out I was wrong. They were here all along, just not formally rallied. Now with the privilege of starting my PhD here, I wanted to give back to the Berkeley physics community by helping establish a physics directed reading program (PDRP) for the years to come. I believe that such a program will help create yet another pathway where undergraduates can interact with the graduate community and break down the technical barriers of entry to physics research. I believe that especially now with the pandemic, it is ever more important that as a unified physics community, we do our best to communicate academic and health resources throughout the department efficiently. I hope you will all consider joining the program in order to strengthen our bonds."
Berkeley Physics is pleased to announce that Eden McEwen has been awarded a 2020 Optics and Photonics Education Scholarship by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, for her potential contributions to the field of optics, photonics or related field. McEwen is a rising fourth-year undergraduate at Berkeley Physics pursuing a double major in physics and computer science.
Namrata is Berkeley's first Rhodes Scholar since 2014. She is also the first UCB Rhodes Scholar selected from the Rhodes India Constituency and 1 of 5 scholars selected for Rhodes India this year. Namrata is in her senior year, pursuing a Physics (Honors) degree. Her senior thesis, supervised by Professor Naomi Ginsberg, involves understanding the dynamics of self-assembly of gold nanocrystal superlattices using optical and x-ray scattering techniques. At Oxford, she hopes to continue investigating the origins of intriguing phenomena in promising photovoltaic materials by being at the interface of experimental and computational physics. Namrata is also very passionate about diversity in STEM fields and multimedia storytelling and has combined both interests by starting “The STEMinist Chronicles”, an organization that currently uses photo essays to tell the stories of women in STEM.
Juan Camilo Buitrago-Casas
In 2015 when graduate student Milo Buitrago-Casas first arrived on campus, he discovered he was only the third PhD physics student to come to Berkeley from Colombia, and the first ever from a non-private university. During that year he learned about teaching opportunities with Clubes de Ciencia, a series of non-profit summer camps that bring prominent scientists and high-quality research equipment to high school students living in disadvantaged and rural areas of Colombia. He quickly applied, and has taught there every summer since 2017. Read more in the 2019 issue of Physics at Berkeley magazine.
Milo is co-author of a collaborative study highlighting recent findings on the prediction of solar flares.