Katherine Aidala

Director of the Fimbel Maker & Innovation Lab; Professor of Physics
Condensed matter physics and nanoscience

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.

Recent Campus News

MHC Gates - January

January at Mount Holyoke

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

Image of Kathy Aidala

Katherine Aidala wins spring 2020 APS prize

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

iDesign Studio class

IDesign Studio redefines tech perception

Mount Holyoke’s IDesign Studio demystifies technology, sparks artistic creativity, fuels entrepreneurial spirit and encourages risk-taking across academia.

The College’s Makerspace is a central location for the campus maker culture.

MHC Makerspace featured in Hampshire Gazette

The Daily Hampshire Gazette featured the College’s Makerspace and Kathy Aidala, chair of physics and engineering, in a recent editorial.

This is a photograph of students Erin Mullin '17 and Yihan Gao '19 tempering chocolate in the lab.

The art and science of chocolate

Valentine-themed Makerspace workshop marries physics and chocolate-making for a bit of educational fun.

Recent Grants

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.