Katherine Aidala employs creative techniques with the atomic force microscope to study a wide range of nanoscale devices and materials, with applications in solar energy, data storage, and biotechnology. Her work has been supported by grants from the NSF and she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2010. Beyond the standard physics curriculum, she teaches Gender in Science and Science in the Media, and regularly gives talks on the under-representation of women in science.
Alexi Arango’s research focuses on advancing renewable energy by employing new semiconductors in the production of solar cells. His lab studies how quantum dots, molecular dyes, metal oxides, and other novel semiconductors can be incorporated into third generation solar cells that are both highly efficient and less expensive to manufacture than conventional solar cells employing silicon.
Kerstin Nordstrom researches complex fluid flows. Such fluids are commonplace in both nature and industry, yet are still poorly understood, sometimes exhibiting bizarre behavior. A well-known example is cornstarch in water (“oobleck”), which pours easily from a container, but is impervious to someone jumping on its surface. Her lab studies a variety of such systems, including avalanching sand, flowing colloids in microfluidic devices, and suspensions of algae. She is also a strong advocate for diversity in science and public outreach.
Mark Peterson is a physics theorist who teaches in both the physics and mathematics departments. His research includes modelling fluid dynamics in biophysical settings, innovative mathematical methods for elasticity theory, and the history of physics and mathematics, especially the life and work of Galileo.
Spencer Smith's work seeks to characterize the complexity inherent in chaotic fluid motion by uncovering dynamically relevant and topologically robust fluid structures. He investigates how these ideas are pertinent from micro-fluidic chips at the small scale to pollution tracking and prediction in oceanic flows on a much larger scale and touch on some of the deep questions in fluid dynamics, such as the nature of turbulence. Spencer is also very interested in the intersection of art and physics and is curating a show at the MHC Art Museum fall 2017 on the science photographs of Berenice Abbott. Smith's spring course will explore physics themes and their representation in art.