Katherine Aidala

  • Director of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab
  • Kennedy-Shelkunoff Professor of Physics, Nexus Track Chair for Engineering
Katherine Aidala, Faculty

Katherine Aidala studies the fundamental properties of materials and devices, providing insight that could lead to technological innovation. With expertise in atomic force microscopy, she enjoys collaborating and has studied a wide range of materials and properties, including magnetic nanostructures, mechanical properties of bacterial biofilms, and electrical properties of organic semiconductors, nanocrystal quantum dots, and 2D materials. Her work has earned her recognitions including being named as an APS Fellow, the APS Prize for a Faculty Member for Research at an Undergraduate Institution, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and being named a Cottrell Scholar.  

Aidala enjoys 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. She regularly teaches Electronics, providing hands on experience designing and building circuits in the lab. She developed a first year seminar on Gender in Science that attempts to answer the question, "Why aren't there more women in science?" Students read primarily from social science literature, paying careful attention to how the answer changes for different disciplines within the sciences. In her work with Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab, Aidala leads efforts across the entire liberal arts curriculum to decrease the apprehension students feel when encountering unfamiliar technology in their learning and in their lives, while enhancing understanding of what it means to live in a physical, material world and sparking curiosity and creativity along the way. 

Areas of Expertise

condensed matter physics, materials science, atomic force microscopy


  • 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.  

View More