Alumni News

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How are you doing? Where are you now? How did a degree from the Department of Physics at Western Michigan University help you? 

We would love to know!

2022 Alumni Achievement Award, Physics

Dr. Elias Garratt (Ph.D. ’13) is a Diamond Crystal Growth Scientist in General Technical Services/Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Maryland. Since his graduation, he has led a successful career in experimental condensed matter physics. His career highlights include competitive fellowships (totaling over $250,000), internal and external funding (over $1 million), publications and student mentorship. In 2012, as part of the National Science Foundation Fellowship, he studied the effects of ion implantation in nanocrystalline diamonds. From 2014 to 2017, he participated in the National Research Council Research Associateship Program as a postdoctoral research fellow studying scalable and controllable nanowire synthesis techniques through the National Institute of Standards and Technology. From 2019 to 2021, he was awarded the Air Force Research Lab Summer Faculty Fellow each year to investigate the applications of diamond color centers in quantum technology.

His work in diamond research as an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University was funded by the National Science Foundation, Air Force Research Lab, Department of Energy and Michigan State University Foundation. He has authored or co-authored over 20 publications in the areas of diamond material research and nanotechnology in top-tier journals, such as Advanced Materials Interfaces. In addition to these many accomplishments, Dr. Garratt is most proud of his student mentorship of four Ph.D. students and six undergraduates in Materials Science and Physics. His students have won competitive fellowships, presented at professional conferences and gone on to work in top diamond-growing companies.

Having developed a successful research program and lab, he was recruited by the Army Research Laboratory to expand their diamond synthesis lab, where he supports cutting-edge device research in the field of radio-frequency communication. He volunteers his time with the Materials Research Society Government Affairs Committee to advocate for continued and expanded funding for materials research in the US. In his free time, he volunteers at the local food bank in College Park, Maryland, where he currently resides.

Past award winners in physics

Alumni profiles

Enrique GamezEnrique Gamez

Shortly after graduating with a B.S. in physics from WMU, Gamez won a highly competitive and prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, which covers three years of graduate school tuition and provides a generous stipend. 

Now pursuing his doctoral degree in theoretical particle and astrophysics at the University of Michigan, Gamez is especially interested in studying the mysteries of dark matter. Dark matter accounts for five times as much mass in the universe as ordinary matter, but has thus far evaded efforts to detect it directly.

Dr. David HoogerheideDavid Hoogerheide

With undergraduate degrees in physics and chemistry from WMU, Hoogerheide earned his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University with research in surface chemistry and the stochastic dynamics of ions in nanopores. Hoogerheide stayed at Harvard, turning to nanopore-based studies of the dynamics of DNA molecules. 

After Harvard came a joint research associateship between the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health. His current work at the NIST focuses on neutron reflectometry of membrane proteins.

Sarah HulbertSarah Hulbert

After earning her B.S. in physics from WMU, Hulbert went on to graduate study in biophysics at The Ohio State University. During her first semester there, she published a paper with her advisor on diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease using new EEG and imaging analysis methodologies.

Hulbert’s research uses concepts from physics, such as chaos theory, to analyze complex brain signals. She hopes her work will improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain system diseases.

Dr. Marc HumphreyMarc Humphrey

Since earning his B.S. in physics and applied mathematics from WMU and his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University, Humphrey has applied his training in unconventional ways, such as working as a Peace Corps volunteer and as a computer programmer with the Centers for Disease Control in Mali.

Humphrey then turned his attention to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, working at the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Energy and most recently at the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

For more alumni profiles, see our careers page.

Alumni updates

Western Michigan University physics alumni are pursuing exciting careers around the globe.

  • Shahin Abdel Naby (Ph.D. 2010) is an assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Dan Adams (M.A. 2008) is a cleaning and metrology engineer with Dow Corning, Midland, Michigan.
  • Mohammad Al-Amar (Ph.D. 2011) is serving as a post-doctoral researcher associate at the University of Toronto, Canada.
  • Salem AlFaidy (Ph.D. 2011) is an assistant professor at King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia.
  • Ali Alnaser (Ph.D. 2002) is associate professor and chair of the Department of Physics at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.
  • Katie Ballman (B.S. 2012) is an applications engineer in the Advanced Optics Division of Corning.
  • Ian Brown (B.S. 2016) is pursuing a Ph.D. at the Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology, and Astrophysics at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee.
  • Dennis Chitko (B.S. 2015) builds femtosecond fiber laser systems for IMRA America in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • Susanta Das (M.A. 2006, Ph.D. 2009) is an assistant professor at P.K. University, Shivpuri, M.P. India.
  • Tamer Elkafrawy (Ph.D. 2012) is a postdoctoral research associate at the CMS, CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Xuan Gao (Ph.D. 2013) teaches at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chongqing, China.
  • Subramanian Ganapathy (Ph.D. 2013) is a postdoctoral research associate at the Centre for Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Bangalore, India.
  • Elias Garratt (Ph.D. 2013) is working as a postdoctoral research associate at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
  • Khalil Hamam (Ph.D. 2013) is an assistant professor in the Applied Physics Department at Tafila Technical University in Jordan.
  • M.  Fatih Hasoglu (Ph.D. 2008) is an associate professor at Hasan Kalyoncu University in Gaziantep, Turkey.
  • Kevan Hess (B.S. 2012) is working alongside his father in real estate with Jaqua Realtors, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Mady Higinbotham  (B.S. 2015) is a sensing systems engineer at Evigia in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
  • William Hollerman (M.A. 1985) is a professor of physics at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
  • Darshika Keerthisinghe (Ph.D. 2015) is an instructor of physics at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
  • Joan DeVries Kelley (M.A. 1970) worked for IBM for 34 years as a system programmer specializing in large mainframes.
  • C. Nalaka Kodituwakku (Ph.D. 2007) is a scientist with Exelis Optics in New York.
  • Katrina Koehler (M.A. 2014, Ph.D. 2019) has a new position as a faculty member at Houghton College (her undergraduate alma mater).
  • Vladislav Malyshkin (Ph.D. 1997) is a senior scientist at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Scott Marley (Ph.D. 2012) is an assistant professor of physics at Louisiana State University.
  • William Millar (M.A. 1985) received his Ph.D. in astrophysics from James Cook University, Townsville, Australia and has retired as professor of physics from Grand Rapids Community College.
  • Manjula Nandasiri (Ph.D. 2013) is a postdoctoral research associate in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington.
  • Adam Newton (B.S. 2014) is employed by General Electric Aviation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  • John Novak (B.S. 2010) develops analytics for auditors in his position with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • Andra Petrean (Ph.D. 2000) is associate professor of physics at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
  • Daniel Renusch (Ph.D. 1999) is an engineer with General Electric in Fairfield, Connecticut.
  • Ayman Said (Ph.D. 2004) is a staff scientist with Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Illinois.
  • Buddhika Senarath Dassanayake (Ph.D.) is a senior lecturer in physics with the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.
  • Valentina Tobos (Ph.D. 2001) is an associate professor of physics at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan.
  • Michelle Tuel (M.A. 2004) works in business operations for Boeing in the state of Washington.
  • Lucian Undreiu (Ph.D. 2005) is an associate professor of physics at University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia.
  • Xue Wang (Ph.D. 2007) is an associate professor in the Department of Physics at the Hebei University of Engineering.
  • Samanthi Wickramarachchi (Ph.D. 2015) is an assistant professor of physics at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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