Katherine Aidala

  • Director of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab
  • Kennedy-Shelkunoff Professor of Physics
  • on leave 2022-2023
Katherine Aidala, Faculty

I enjoy teaching at all levels of the curriculum, working to engage every student to promote fundamental understanding of the material and appreciation for the relevant applications. I have spent time developing three courses in particular. Electronics provides hands on experience designing and building circuits in the lab. By the end of the semester, students can design a circuit to take an audio signal (like from an iPod) and send it across space, then detect it and play it in speakers. My Gender in Science course attempts to answer the question, "Why aren't there more women in science?" We read primarily from social science literature, and pay careful attention to how the answer changes for different disciplines within the sciences. I also teach a speaking intensive first year seminar called "Science in the Media". This is essentially a current events course that looks at what present-day scientists are actually doing, with weekly guest speakers and frequent presentations by the students. Across the semester, students learn how science actually progresses, the interdisciplinary nature of science and its relevance to many aspects of life, and what scientists are spending their time thinking about today.

Areas of Expertise

Condensed matter physics and nanoscience


  • Ph.D., M.A., Harvard University
  • B.S., Yale University


Recent Campus News

Mount Holyoke professor Katherine Aidala was nominated to be an APS fellow for her research and her dedication to mentorship and science communication.

In January, Mount Holyoke welcomed spring admits, congratulated professors and student-athletes, and celebrated the community.

The American Physical Society has awarded Mount Holyoke professor Katherine Aidala the highest recognition of her outstanding research and mentoring.

Recent Grants

National Science Foundation (NSF) subaward from Harvard for "STC Center for Integrated Quantum materials" The project is for seven years.

Supplemental funding from Harvard on National Science Foundation CIQM subaward to fund MakerFaire. (April, 2020)

Recent Awards

Awarded the 2020 Prize for a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution by the American Physical Society. The award recognizes Aidala's exceptionally creative and interdisciplinary research using scanning probe microscopy for novel studies of magnetic nanorings, biofilms and organic semiconductors and her outstanding mentoring of women undergraduates, particularly through research collaborations.

Recent Honors

Was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society, "for innovative development of scanning probe techniques to characterize soft materials, study disordered semiconductors, and apply azimuthal magnetic fields to magnetic nanostructured materials; for exceptional mentoring of undergraduate women in physics; and promoting public appreciation of science.” Each year, no more than one half of one percent of the Society’s membership is recognized by their peers for election to the status of Fellow.  

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