Physics and Space Sciences


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Recent News:

Christine Gabrielse (Space Sciences, 2007)

At the end of my 2nd academic year in the Geophysics and Space Physics program in the Earth and Space Sciences Dept. at UCLA, I passed my oral field exam to obtain my Master's Degree and will continue on for a PhD. During my time at UCLA I have presented research based off of the THEMIS multi-satellite mission at several conferences and have been first-author on two papers: the first being on flapping waves in Earth's neutral sheet (GRL 2008) and the second being on substorm timing (JGR 2009). ! Stay tuned as THEMIS enters its extended mission, ARTEMIS, where 2 out of 5 probes will go into orbit around the moon!

Ed Thomas (Physics, 1989)

I was watching Nature on PBS last evening and it featured a Florida Tech alumnus, Dr. Milton Garces. Milton and I were classmates and two of the three physics majors that graduated in 1989. We've been in touch on and off during the years and I knew he was working in Hawaii as a geophysicist.

Here is the link to his section of the episode of Nature - "Kilauea: Mountain of fire" on PBS's website. Enjoy! (04/09)

Patricia Gavin (Space Sciences, 2008)

I'm currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas's Center for Space and Planetary Sciences. I teach an astronomy lab for non-science majors. I recently traveled to Paris to give a talk on the research I am doing on the mineralogical and chemical evolution of the Martian surface. I will also be giving both a poster and an oral presentation on this research at the upcoming Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference in Houston, TX. My adviser and I are planning to submit my first publication on this topic at the end of the month. (02/09)

Andrea Allen (Physics, Astronomy/Astrophysics, BS 2005)

I'm still working at ITT Corporation in the Space Systems Division. (02/09)

Dirk Valk (Space Sciences, BS 1987)

I've been teaching Advanced Placement high school math and science for the last eight years, and I'm in the process of transitioning to the faculty at Polk Community College, an excellent example of what a Community College should be. This semester, I'm developing a fledgling astronomy course series and teaching physics. The rest of my time is devoted to keeping house and raising my two wonderful children, Jansen (11) and Sage (8). (01/09)

Alli Taylor (Manion) (Space Sciences, BS 2005)

Richard and I were married October 6, 2007. I'm currently working for Lockheed Martin in northern Virginia in an Orbital Analysis group. I've also started my graduate studies at the University of North Dakota in Space Studies via their online distance program. ( (1/09)

Katelyn Hill (Space Sciences, Astronomy/Astrophysics, and Meteorology, BS 2007)

I am a quality engineer at DRS working on the targeting and pilotage receivers for the Apache helicopters. Nothing to do with space, but a lot of optics! (01/09)

Jay Seiler (Physics and Mathematics BS, 2007)

I'm back at FIT doing a Masters in Applied Math. I'm also a GSA for all the Differential Equations labs, and I have a part-time job outside of school. (01/09)

Beth Finn (Space Sciences, BS 2001)

I got married to Steve Stolte on September 2, 2007. In November of that year we found out we were going to have a baby. Jackson Stephen was born on June 23, 2008. (11/08)

Mayte (Maria) Vasquez (Astronomy & Astrophysics BS '06)

Ph.D. enrollment in "Simulation of the Radiation Field in Planetary Atmospheres" at DLR’s Remote Sensing Technology Institute, Munich - Germany. (4/08)

William Roberts (Space Sci. BS '89)

It has been quite some time since I last visited, but I'm happy to see the extensive progress that has been made to the department as well as the school. I'm looking forward to my next visit (Telescope dedication) I'm currently working just outside Orlando for Northrop Grumman. We design and build laser systems for the military. While the majority of my career consisted of R&D and optical parametric oscillators (OPO), I now am the manager of the optical systems design group. I am essentially in charge of all the ray benders and ensure that we are getting the photons out the door as efficiently as possible. While extremely challenging, the rewards are also just as fulfilling. It is a great feeling to see your designs go from paper to hardware...I would not be where I am today had I not obtained such a broad background from my studies at FIT. I continue to learn something new every day. (4/08)

Andrew Herron (Astronomy & Astrophysics BS '07)

I'm in my first semester as a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech working on a master's degree in aerospace engineering (Ph.D. to probably come later, but for now I think I'm ready to have a break from school). I'm working as a research assistant in the Aerospace Systems Design Lab ( under Dr. Tommer Ender in Integrated Air and Missile Defense and ballistic missile defense. (10/07)

Aravind Ratnam (Space Sciences MS '05)

Grad school at Florida Tech with the PSS department will be amongst the most learning-intensive periods in your life should you be lucky enough to go there! I thoroughly enjoyed the time that I spent in an environment that was competitive yet friendly, multi-faceted yet concentrated and independent yet hospitable. The excellent education that I received with PSS (Dr Rassoul, Dr Mantovani, Dr Dwyer, Dr Zhang, Dr Wood- hats off!) has, I believe, provided me with a springboard for a really successful career in the R&D industry. I am currently employed with the Research wing of Cymer Inc. in San Diego (woo hoo!) as a Control System Test Engineer, working with some of the world's best in the UV laser business. I wish to express my undying gratitude to my alma mater for getting me here!  My phone number is 858 518 9129 should any of you need to get back in touch!  (8/07)

Oliver Hansen (Physics BS '04)

Hey all. Finally, after three nomadic years, I decided I had better check in. I graduated in '06 from East Carolina University with my master's in Medical Physics and am now a staff physicist at the St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, OK. I work largely in radiation oncology (we're getting all geared up for the imminent installation of a CyberKnife unit this fall), but we also handle the hospital system's diagnostic radiology units (MRI, CT, x-ray tubes, etc.) and radiation safety as well. I'm biking and traveling and reading and, generally, trying to adjust to the real world. Hope everyone is doing well, and feel free to drop a line! (6/07)

Talal Ashiq (Physics MS '03)

Since Florida Tech, life had been very very exciting. Currently I am part of award wining at&t’s ultravailable networks team. It’s a lot of work but my education at Florida Tech has helped me get prepared for this Job. I had someone of the best teachers at the school. Dr. Baarmand was my advisor. His always friendly nature and immense knowledge in physics was very infectious. I really enjoyed his areas of research. I am so honored to play a small part in his research. I use his work ethics as my guide to this day. I hold a very high esteem for Dr. Ming Zhang. He is the single most knowledgeable person in the field of optics that I have ever come across. Dr. James Montovani made quantum physics comprehendible. Dr. Baksay, always at the defense of his students. Dr. Rasoul……. What I can I say…… if physicist can be canonized he will be a living saint. (2/07)

Dr. J. Allyn Smith (Space Sciences M.S. '79, Ph.D. '97)

Dr. Smith has taken a position at Austin Peay State University as a faculty member in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Smith is the first astronomer at APSU and is challenged to develop an astronomy program at the undergraduate school. Smith continues to work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, among other projects.

Walt Faulconer (Space Sciences '78)

Walt is now at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Labority in Laurel, Maryland as the Business Area Executive for Civilian Space. He is responsible for all of the work that APL does on behalf of NASA which accounts for about 20% of the labs activities. APL built and launched in January the New Horizons spacecraft, the first mission to Pluto. In October, the STEREO twin spacecraft built by APL were launched on their 2 year mission to study the sun. MESSENGER, built and operated by APL is on its way to the planet Mercury. This year APL began work on two new exciting programs, the Geospace Radiation Belt Mappers, two spacecraft planned to launch in 2011 to study the radiation belts, and the Lunar Precursor Robotic Lander, planned to land on the moon in 2011 as part of NASA's exploration program. Walt joined APL in 2005 after 26 years at Lockheed Martin in Denver.

David Sing-Ming Chang (Physics '74)

Florida Tech was" most enjoyable and best achievement of academic life - the best university I have ever attended in US. I remember Dr. Blatt, Dr. Jin, Dr. Weber (Dean), Dr. Reavy (head of E.E.) and many other professors to support my MS Physics (1974) and MSEE (1975) (double major at that time). I went on my Ph.D. EE study at UConn and Rutgers after Florida Tech, and pending my Ph.D. EE at Rutgers due to my major professor's 3 years sabbatical leave. I came to Silicon Valley (Santa Clara, California) in 1978 to work for Signetics / Philips Semiconductors as a product engineer. And then, went to HP for computer chip VLSI designer and software engineer. Also, joined with Unisys, Lockheed Martin, Tandem, Amdahl, and Harris as network communication software engineer. Now, I am doing consulting and supporting my wife and child. My favorite motto is "Simple, Trust, Moderate and Balance." (10/05)

Thomas Moschoutis (Physics '05)

"I am glad to tell you that I was accepted for a Master of Science with a major in Physics, specialised in Quantum Physics, at the KTH University of Stockholm. I thank you all for helping me getting there."

Luz Angela Cubides (Astron&Astrophys B.Sci. '04)

" In June I started research at the IEEC (Space Studies Institute at Catalunya) in Barcelona, Spain. In January I'll start pursuing my PhD from the University of Barcelona with my thesis on Dust Formation and Infrared Emission from Novae, under the assistance of Margarida Hernanz". (9/05)

Scott "Blue" Wilson (Intdisc. Sci. B.S. '04)

"I just started a new job at FullSail as the Senior Applications Support Specialist. I have enrolled and will be starting a degree in Anthropology in the Spring of 2006 at UCF. I will be working with a Non-profit organization in Orlando helping children in disadvantaged areas build computers that they get to take home for free when they complete it. I will be starting that in Mid-September of 2005." (8/05)

Beth Finn (Space Sciences B.S. '01)

"I am currently working at the Flight Dynamics Facility at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD. I am working for Honeywell on the Missions Operations Missions Services (MOMS) contract." (3/05)

Kandy Kasprick (Space Sciences B.S. '04)

"I am currently working in Arlington, Virginia at the Schafer Technology Management Division supporting the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as an Engineer/Scientist."

Don Dawson (Physics M.S. '96)

"Since graduating I have had quite an adventure in my field. I worked with missile defense and travelled to Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands and Ni'ihau, Hawaii for tests of anti-missile systems, consulted in Washington, D.C. on firearms evidence identification and matching (related to my thesis), and did cutting edge research in measuring the surface temperature of a re-entering space shuttle using infrared cameras from the ground. Meanwhile, my wife and I have had two children, a son and daughter, and are still involved with the Florida Tech campus (she is the Protestant Chaplain). I currently work for Titan Systems in Melbourne as an Engineering Physicist."

Chrissy and Matt Daniels

Currently live with their daughter Abigail (born Sept 3, 2004) in Royerford PA. Chrissy worked for Lockheed Martin for a year after graduation. She then took up full time graduate school at Villanova University and received a Master's in Math in May 2004. She currently enjoys being a stay at home mom with Abigail. Matt currently works for Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge PA as a systems engineer performing orbit mechanics analysis and reliability analysis. He received his Master's degree in Systems Engineering from Penn State University in August 2004. They are expecting their second child in February 2006 (7/05).

Mark Ivan Fernandez (Space Sciences B.S. '95)

"Well, we did not have a white Christmas this year, but baby Alexander had a white birthday. It snowed last Sunday night so when we awoke on Monday to go to the hospital, there was an inch of snow on the ground and it was cold! The temperature was 10 degrees with wind chill below zero!!! Alexander Raul Fernandez was born on 20 Dec 2004, weighing 7lbs 4 oz. Mom and baby came home on the 22nd and are doing well. Attached are some photos of the little guy." (12/04)

Monica Theilen (Space Sciences B.S. '00)

"As many of you know, I am recently married, so I thought I'd send a picture of my husband (Bryan Hoke) and me to you. My name is now Monica R. T. Hoke (with my maiden name, Theilen, as a second middle name). We live in Colorado Springs with a black lab, a cat, and lots of snow (at least compared to Florida!)." Congratulations, Monica and Bryan! (11/04)


Marty Werner (Space Sciences B.S. '94)

"I hope this email finds everyone in good health and good spirits. I wanted to give everyone a little update on what I have been up to lately. I have been living in the Phoenix area for the past year and a half. I finally got to experience what a 110+ degree day feels like. The company I work for (Spectrum Astro) has recently merged with General Dynamics, so we have gone from a ~500 employee company to being much much bigger. Things have been going well for the company, one of the satellites we built, the NASA Swift Observatory launched on Nov 20th. plus we have won a couple large satellite contracts in the past couple months, so it has been a very exciting and busy time. If you are ever in the Phoenix area, and need a place to stay or just a tour guide, you know who to call. Don't forget your baiting suit for the pool!"

Christina Pelzer (Space Sciences B.S. '04)

Christina is currently working at Johnson Space Center with the Motion Control Group for the International Space Station. She supports the real-time operations of Station at Mission Control Center-Houston through the Attitude Determination and Control Officer (a flight controller position). (8/04)

Manoj Sridhar (Physics B.S. '03)

Manoj is currently a Ph.D. student at Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Vanderbilt University, Nashville. Pursuing research involving the use of lasers to manipulate biological molecules (8/04).

Matt Fillingim (Space Sciences B.S. '95, M.S. '97)

"After finishing my Ph.D. in 2002 in the Geophysics Program (now part of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences) at the University of Washington in Seattle, we moved to California where I am working as an Assistant Research Physicist in the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. My research mainly focuses on auroral/magnetospheric physics via space based images and plasma measurements. Michelle (dual B.S., Physical Oceanography/Marine and Environmental Studies, 1997) works at Fugro West, Inc., a geo-technical firm in Oakland. In December 2003, our first child, Kiara Clairice, was born." (7/04)

Scott Sabetsky (Space Sciences B.S. '02)

"After obtaining my MS in Space Systems in 2004, I am currently working in the Systems Integration group with Computer Sciences Raytheon at Patrick AFB, FL. In my position, I am responsible for interfacing between the 45th Space Wing, other CSR departments, and other contracted companies; for projects dealing with the modernization and sustainment of systems on the Eastern Range." (7/04)

Alina Hirschmann (Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics B.S. '02)

Alina is a Ph.D. student at U.P.C.(Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya or Politechnic University of Catalonia), Barcelona, Spain. Thesis project: Gamma ray emission of Type Ia Supernovae, Thesis Directors: Dr. Jordi Isern and Dr. Eduardo Bravo.

Dr. Nicole Silvestri (Space Sciences M.S. '97, Ph.D. '02)

Dr. Silvestri is a research associate in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Washington in Seattle, WA. Her research primarily focuses on M Dwarf-white dwarf close binary systems in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey ( ). Silvestri is also working on several projects in collaboration with the stellar research group within the SDSS. These projects involve magnetic white dwarfs, white dwarf/M dwarf proper motions, wide and close binary system properties, and M dwarf chromospheric activity and age. Silvestri is currently teaching undergraduate "Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology" (Astro 323) to UW's astronomy majors and will again be teaching "An Introduction to the Planets" (Astro 150) to non-majors this summer. She lives in Kirkland, WA with her husband, Christian Kelly. The couple recently purchased their first home and spend most of their spare time skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. (submitted 5/4/04)

Dr. James Simpson (Space Sciences M.S. '89, Physics Ph.D. '95)

Dr. Simpson computed and analyzed numerical simulations of accretion disks for his doctoral project. He joined the range safety analysis group at Computer Sciences Raytheon at Patrick Air Force Base in 1997 where he helped quantify the capabilities of the existing tracking systems. In 2000, he joined Dynacs, Inc. at Kennedy Space Center to support NASA's Advanced Range Technology efforts in tracking and space-based communications. Dr. Simpson joined NASA's newly formed Range Systems Design and Development Branch at Kennedy Space Center in 2002 and continues to work on new tracking systems, autonomous flight safety systems, and space-based communications. He lives in Rockledge, FL (submitted 4/25/04)

J. Paul Douglas (Space Sciences B.S. '97)

This year, I have started a new, electronic journal for space operations called the Space Operations Communicator. ( ). Published quarterly through the AIAA Space Operations and Support Technical Committee, the Communicator features everything from breakthroughs to survey topics on space operations as well as regular departments covering space policies and treaties, space history and much more. (submitted 4/20/04)

Dr. J. Allyn Smith (Space Sciences M.S. '79, Ph.D. '97)

Dr. Smith is a visiting scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He is involved primarily in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey ( and the stellar research group within the survey. He also works on the calibration plans for the SNAP spacecraft, a Department of Energy program to investigate the Dark Energy in the Universe. He has recently started working with the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project. In his spare time, Dr. Smith serves on the Florida Tech Alumni Association national board of directors. He and his wife, Jeanne Odermann, are members of the Espanola Valley Opera Guild, supporting the world famous Santa Fe, New Mexico opera. (submitted 4/7/04)

Raj Sareen (Class of '04)

Raj has been accepted into San Francisco State University's Masters of Physics program with a Teaching assistantship. His will be studying extrasolar planets with Dr. Fischer.

Chris Snyder (Class of '03)

Chris has been accepted into the Case Western Reserve University Master's Program in Physics Entrepreneurship.