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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Alumni Updates: July 2021

Posted on: July 13, 2021

Written by Daniel Paradiso

We invite you to share any update or accomplishments. We want to hear about your professional achievements. We also welcome announcements of marriages and family additions. Fill out our alumni updates submission form to share your photos and news.

Where are our Alumni Now?

Hunter Antoniadis ‘92 Ph.D.

Was recently appointed as the Chief Technology Officer at Nanosys, a leader in quantum dot and microLED technology in the display industry. Throughout his career, he has published over 70 papers, and is a named inventor on more than 50 patents. You can read more about his recent appointment here

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Jamila Butt ‘06 Ph.D.

Married Mr. Muhammad Ahmad, a former colleague from the National Centre for Physics, Islamabad, in 2011. They have had three adorable boys together.

Milton Fisher ‘47 M.A.

Retired 34 years ago and lives in Australia. He fondly remembers the physics department with Frederickson at the helm and Peter Bergmann in the faculty. He worked on the design and programming of the first commercially available computer, UNIVAC, taught mathematics, and computer science, devised medical diagnostic systems for Philips in the USA and the Netherlands. Since retirement, he has published fiction and non-fiction, made news commentary, and sang and the radio. He still is experiencing the joy of studying and learning.

Jones Harris ‘84 B.S.

He is currently a senior chemist at Johnson Matthey, Inc. Making catalysts for pharmaceutical companies and making cancer drugs.

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Matt Kelsey ‘18 Ph.D.

Joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as a postdoctoral scholar working on the STAR experiment, which is located at the Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider (RHIC) after graduating. While he was there, he worked on physics analyses that are aimed at studying the properties of the Quark-Gluon Plasma (QGP). Last November, he moved to Detroit and joined the STAR group at Wayne University as a postdoc where he is continuing his research studying the properties of the QGP. He has also started to study the potential experimental achievements of heavy-flavor hadron measurement at the future Electron-Ion Collider.

Richard Machalak ‘82 Ph.D.

He worked in optics, communications, quantum computing, and management at the Air Force Research Lab before retiring after 38 years. He is still busy in his retirement, now working on his first love, cosmology!

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Jairo Velasco Jr. ‘05 B.S.

Jairo Velasco Jr. joined the Physics department at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2015. He received his PhD in physics from the University of California Riverside in 2012. He was then a University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Physics at the University of California Berkeley. His research interests include the study of electronic properties and structure of quantum materials, with a focus on two-dimensional materials such as graphene. Dr. Velasco was a recipient of the NSF early CAREER award in 2018. In 2021 he was promoted to Associate Professor of Physics at UC Santa Cruz.

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Haozhi Wang ‘18 Ph.D.

Photo taken at Boulder, CO.

Since graduating, he has finished a two-year postdoc at CU Boulder and just recently started another postdoc at the Laboratory for Physical Sciences, working with Dr. Ben Palmer.


Patrick Witmer ‘08 B.A.

After graduating, he wanted to instill in young people the excitement of learning and applying physics, so he attended graduate school at SUNY Oswego and earned his master’s degree in education in 2010. Currently, he is teaching high school science in the Syracuse City School District. He divided his free time between volunteering as Regional Coordinator with the NY Science Olympiad and as Director of his nonprofit organization, STEM Stewardship, Inc. He would like to thank Professor Alan Middleton, Professor Peter Saulson, and most of all Professor Gianfranco Vidali for their patience and persistence in aiding him through his studies here at SU and beyond. You can learn more about STEM Stewardship here

Kang Yu ‘10 Ph.D.

After graduating he went back to China and joined Seagate Technology, and has been working at Seagate since then. He is a Senior Engineering Director responsible for China customer technical engagement. He currently lives in Suzhou with his wife, daughter, and son who was born in 2014.

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A Letter from Jay Zemel ‘49 B.S., ‘52 M.S. and ‘55 Ph.D.

“I’ve pondered as to what interest the readers of the Physics Department Newsletter might have written by one of the “Last of the Mohicans” from the Syracuse Physics Department beginning as a graduate program. As best as I can recall, Al MacRae may be one of the very few people around from the period 1945-1953 during which I worked for all my degrees in the department. That is a fair chunk of time ago and I am truly fortunate to still be “on my hind legs”. Yet those eight years at Syracuse Physics, so long ago, are why I can honestly say they were the basis for both my life and the skills I was able to acquire then and later to engage in the life I have and had. The confidence expressed by William Frederickson, the Chair of Physics in offering me a teaching assistantship opened the door to my future quite literally. As I began my graduate education. I met and married my beloved deceased wife, Jacqueline Lax Zemel, sister of the then Asst. Prof. of theoretical physics, Melvin Lax. With my Jacky, our family has not only produced adults who are artists, academics, and socially active individuals, they are topping it off at the moment, with two great grandchildren that are the joy of my life. And, as age descends, I continue to be able to contribute to the development of a neonatal feeding system whose promise is to assist in evaluating the progress of the 13% of live human births who are premature or at risk.

Syracuse Physics was and still is a vast entry way to the future. You and your colleagues are part of a great tradition that I sincerely hope continues now and into the future.”

Awards and Recognitions:

Syracuse University Physics Graduate Alumnus, Dr. Nathan Jurik, who currently holds a staff position at CERN, has received the Young Experimental Physicist Prize of the High Energy and Particle Physics Division awarded by the European Physical Society. Nathan is partly recognized for the discovery of pentaquarks, which was a subject of his thesis with Prof. Tomasz Skwarnicki. His accomplishment has been announced by various online science journals like the European Physical Society and the CERNCOURIER. Nathan was awarded the Tanaka's Dissertation Award in 2018 by the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society. Congratulations Nathan, Tomasz and the LHCb collaboration!

In the Media:

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Syracuse Physics PhD Alumnus, Dr. George Campbell, Jr, PhD in 1977, is the author of a new, thoughtful piece on racial inequality in physics featured in the APS News Back Page. The work describes the history of Black physicists and the utter lack of positive gains for reaching equality in academia and industrial physics positions. Consider reading this thoughtful piece.

Dr. Kuang Liu, a new SU Physics PhD student alum and currently a post-doc at the City College of New York in NYC, is the first author of this week’s Physical Review Letters cover article entitled “Dynamic Nuclear Structure Emerges from Chromatin Cross-links and Motors”. Interestingly, Dr. Liu is also the first author on another Physical Review Letters cover article that came out in February entitled “Spongelike Rigid Structures in Frictional Granular Packings”.

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Physics Graduate Alumna, Dr. Taviare Hawkins, was featured in a profile and Q&A in Physics Today.

(photo credit - Roberto Salgado)