Meet the Grad Students!

First Years

Andrew AntczakIMG_3127

Field of Study: Biophysics
Research Summary: Nothing yet. Sometimes I google search pictures of Tom Brady though, if that counts.
Fun things I do besides Physics: I love reading, exploring Philadelphia, eating food, and occasionally exercising.
Advice for Prospies: Create new relationships with everyone you meet. This department is very friendly and that should not be taken for granted! Don’t be shy about asking for help whether it’s to do with physics, housing, exploring the city, food suggestions, or anything else you can think of. This city and University have plenty to offer so use those around you to experience as much of it as you can!

Sean Lewis


Field of Study: Astrophysics (I am
currently also exploring neutrino physics)
Research Summary: I analyzed Active Galactic Nuclei emission spectra (specifically the [OIII]5007Å line) to test for a possible relationship between gas around the central black hole and the dynamics of galactic bulge stars.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Frisbee, exploring cool bars/pubs in Philly, catching a movie as often as possible.
Advice for Prospies: Be social! The graduate physics department at Drexel is extremely tight-knit and extraordinarily friendly. Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to someone, this is a great opportunity to start new friendships.

Steve Sclafani

Field of Study: Neutrinos, Particle Physics
Research Summary: I work at IceCube on an analysis correlating neutrinos with the matter density of the local universe
Fun things I do besides Physics: Outside of physics I enjoy music, playing drums very poorly, going to local shows, biking, and traveling when possible.
Advice for Prospies: Work together with your classmates, find something to do outside of Physics, and make time for your hobbies.  Philadelphia is amazing so enjoy it while you are here.

Second Years

Matt Bresslerunnamed

Field of Study: particle physics, specifically dark matter
Research Summary: I’m working on PICO, a dark matter search housed at SNOlab that uses bubble chambers to try to detect WIMPs, and we are also building a prototype bubble chamber for PICO here at Drexel with a new design that hopes to eliminate some of the problems that have occurred with past detectors.
Fun things I do besides Physics: I am a student pilot, taking flight lessons to get a private pilot license. I also like to explore abandoned things, especially involving the history of Pennsylvania.
Advice for Prospies: Stress is worth it for something you love, so dive in and work hard.

Shalin Patelpatel-shalin

Field of Study: Condensed Matter
Research Summary: Using ultrafast electron diffraction to study phase transitions in transition metal dichalcogenides. I am also interested in using ultrafast X-ray diffraction to observe strain effects and changes in crystal structure in perovskite thin films.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Reading, video games, playing the piano, and origami

Advice for Prospies: Along with research and classwork, set aside some time in your schedule to relax and do something outside physics.

Anthony Ruffino14232639_10209098242066870_5315082552128176537_n

Field of Study: Experimental Condensed Matter Physics
Research Summary: 2D electron gas confinement at band insulator interfaces
Fun things I do besides Physics: I enjoy longboarding, playing the piano and other instruments, Magic the Gathering, video games (too many to list), and cooking.
Advice for Prospies: Physics research doesn’t just happen in the physics department. Don’t be afraid to look at opportunities in other departments if they fit your research goals.

Eli Worth20170404_134719

Field of Study: Condensed Matter
Research Summary: TBD
Fun things I do besides Physics: Hiking
Advice for Prospies: Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. If things are tough, just take a deep breath and look at it from a new angle.

Third Years

Erin HansenIMG_20150724_232901-nopm- (2)

Field of Study: Particle Physics, Neutrinos
Research Summary: Developing tools to better understand Liquid Xenon detectors. Specifically, (a) simulating the use of radon-injection to map detectors using decay coincidences and (b) designing and building a purity monitor for evaluating detector materials (nEXO).
Fun things I do besides Physics: Video games! And happy hour.
Advice for Prospies: You’re more than a number / test score / GPA.
Also everyone has moments when they feel they “don’t belong” or they’re “not good enough to do ___”. Reach out! Let people convince you otherwise!

Dustin Jay HillDSCN2862.JPG

Field of Study: Astrophysics
Research Summary: I study the magnetic fields of the outer planets (Uranus and Neptune) by creating magnetohydrodynamic simulations of the interiors of these planets.
Fun things I do besides Physics: I am a (very) aspiring novelist and writer, play saxophone, and engaging in political activism.
Advice for Prospies: When visiting different departments, go with your instincts as to whether the school is what you are looking for.

Becka Phillipsonbecka

Field of Study: Astrophysics
Research Summary: I study accretion disks around compact objects of all shapes and sizes! My primary focus is in investigating the role of radiation in accretion disk systems ranging from the babies in stellar-mass black hole binaries up to the big kids in active galactic nuclei using both radiation-hydrodynamical simulations and multi-year light curves from various NASA missions.
Fun things I do besides Physics: music, music & music, craft beer-related festivities, hot yoga, yogging, video games, shooting range
Advice for Prospies: Find something you love to do outside the department. Getting outside the Drexel Physics bubble will allow you to relieve stress and have fun with people of differing perspectives. Make the most of your time here, both in the physics department and in Philadelphia!

Tyler RehakRehak

Field of Study: Particle Physics
Research Summary: I’m working on developing prototype stopped muon monitors in the Fermilab neutrino beamline for the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE).
Fun things I do besides Physics: video games, squash, board games, baseball (Go Cubs!).
Advice for Prospies: Finding the right balance of classwork, research, and relaxation is key. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember to get off campus and explore the opportunities available around Philly.

Angelica RiveraSeniorPic

Field of Study: Astrophysics
Research Summary: I am investigating the physical origins of the diversity of quasars using multi-wavelength (optical, IR, UV, and X-Ray) and time-domain data to examine which features are correlated across the quasar spectral energy distribution (SED).
Fun things I do besides Physics: read, play videogames, dance, occasionally write (stories or poetry), obsess over Star Trek 😛
Advice for Prospies: Work hard, but also make time to take care of yourself/de-stress.

Joseph TumultyTumulty

Field of Study: Computational Biophysics
Research Summary: I work on simulating networks of neurons, using the NEURON package from Yale to simulate the individual neurons.  I am currently investigating the columnar structure of neurons and whether connectivity within columns effects the synchronization of the overall network.
Fun things I do besides Physics: I play piano in a band and play for a local Philly men’s rugby team.
Advice for Prospies: Get your work done, find research you are passionate about, and don’t forget to get outside and enjoy life a little.

Joe WragaMe

Field of Study: Cosmology
Research Summary: I study the ekpyrotic universe, a theory which posits a cyclic universe without beginning or end. In particular I am interested in the evolution of entropy density of the universe in this model, to determine if this model is consistent with the second law of thermodynamics.

Fun things I do besides Physics: In my spare time I like to play guitar and read science fiction.

Paul Xhori2015_0101_06000900

Field of Study: Solid state physics
Research Summary: I study the dynamics ultrafast atomic motion through femtosecond laser driven electron diffraction. Currently we are developing the instrument and plan to explore the electron-lattice interactions in the picosecond time scale of tungsten.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Outside of physics, I  enjoy hiking and exploring, playing ping pong, photography, and I also play the violin.
Advice for Prospies: Picking a topic and advisor is at the very least a 4 year commitment and shouldn’t be done lightly, but taking some time to pick the right one for you pays off in the end. Also, find some other creative hobbies to let out the stress

Fourth Years

Kelley CommefordIMG_1143

Field of Study: Physics Education Research
Research Summary: Using network analysis to distinguish between different methods of active learning.
Fun things I do besides Physics: LARP, cosplay, Ginger Sunshine Labs, board games, karaoke, makeup junkie
Advice for Prospies: Be social! Grad school sucks if you don’t hang out with friends to de-stress! Make sure to ask older students about professor teaching habits- some looooove questions in class, while some think questions are disruptive and are meant to be asked in office hours. Also, join GSA or PGSA! It is great leadership experience, and also super fun!

Joe Glaser8APV93M

Field of Study: Computational Astrophysics
Research Summary: I primarily study the kinematic evolution of exoplanets within clustered environments via multi-scale simulations and observational survey statistics.
Fun things I do besides Physics: I am a costume/prop hobbyist which feeds into my year-long enjoyment of LARPs and Renaissance Faires.
Advice for Prospies: My biggest piece of advice is to get to know the people within the department and college at every level and keep a strong sense of comradery with your fellow grad students. In addition to exploring the city around you, it’s one of the biggest keys to having an enjoyable experience at Drexel.

Virginia Price16508779_1477005098977724_5057754143096007335_n

Field of Study: Physics Education Research
Research Summary:  Group learning in physical and online communities.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Cosplay, hunting down free food in its natural habitat, Ginger Sunshine Labs
Advice for Prospies: Make sure to find something you can do outside of grad school. Having a hobby is good for your mental health, whether it’s physical fitness or building intricately structured card houses. It’s super important to recharge your brain batteries!

Ben Relethfordboxing

Field of Study: Particle Astrophysics
Research Summary: I use observations from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory to look for high-energy neutrinos among a certain class of sources- namely, Seyfert galaxies, a type of radio-weak active galactic nuclei.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Boxing, Magic the Gathering, video games, and a cartoon podcast I run with my younger brother.
Advice for Prospies: make sure you can get along with your fellow first-years: no one can get through E&M II on their own.

Shuting ZhangPhoto Dec 14, 23 40 41

Field of Study: Biophysics
Research Summary: I do computational simulation on Amyloid beta-proteins, which is related to Alzheimer’s disease pathology.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Knitting/Crocheting; Rubber stamp carving
Advice for Prospies: Come and join us!

Fifth Years

Mark ‘Kobra with a K’ Davis13119809_1768542463381211_2161708924416242150_o

Field of Study: BioPhysics
Research Summary: The group uses spectrascopy, and laser microscopy techniques to study the development of Hb in Sickle Cell Disease patients. I personally turn caffeine and patience into error bars.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Basketball, boxing, competitive Magic: the Gathering
Advice for Prospies: Find a stress outlet, quickly.

Kaho LongIMG_20161207_210036

Field of Study: Biophysics

Research Summary: A major property of classical globular proteins is that in order to perform their specific function they must adopt their native state. However as the proteins attempt to fold into their native state they are susceptible to misfolding. If these misfolded proteins are not properly degraded they could begin to form aberrant aggregates. One major type of aggregates that may be formed are amyloid fibrils, long fiber like structures characterized by a highly ordered cross beta-sheet structure held together by hydrogen bonding running parallel to the fibril axis. The assembly pathway towards these fibrils is not well understood but is generally considered that for most proteins to form fibrils, the process begins with the formation of small soluble assemblies called oligomers. Couple that with the recent idea that oligomeric assemblies of these proteins can be toxic, understanding oligomer formation and structure is important. One of these proteins that exhibit the ability to form amyloid fibrils is insulin, a 51 residue hormone known primarily for regulating blood sugar levels. Insulin has been shown to readily fibrillate in vitro and also rarely in vivo conditions, but there is a lack of data on the role of insulin oligomers as intermediates in fibril formation process. More specifically what I study is the kinetics of insulin aggregation under more physiologically relevant conditions, via the introduction of metal ions and the large crowders.

Fun things I do besides Physics: Well I enjoy practicing long sword techniques with a local HEMA group; HEMA is Historical European Martial Arts.
Advice for Prospies: Always carry a towel for emergencies.

Lizz Wills17434574_1240575149324207_5821599499393174121_o

Field of Study: Astro-Particle Physics
Research Summary: Cosmic Ray Anisotropy in the Northern Hemisphere using daughter neutrinos detected by IceCube.
Fun things I do besides Physics: ballet, teaching Scottish dance, playing piano and cello.
Advice for Prospies:

Sixth Years

Christopher BrownIMG_1240

Field of Study: Biophysics
Research Summary: I work with Professor Ferrone in studying Sickle Cell Disease. Sickle Cell Disease occurs due to a mutation in the hemoglobin protein. Because of this mutation, hemoglobin proteins, when deoxygenated, can link up and form long, stiff polymer strands. This leads to a deformation in the red blood cell, making the cell rigid in the process. In some cases the deformation makes the cell crescent or sickle shaped. Using this structural change that only occurs in blood with Sickle Disease, we’re interested in how to efficiently detect the disease by monitoring the viscous flow of blood through capillary tubes.
Fun things I do besides Physics: In my spare time I enjoy playing games of all sorts (video games, board games, tabletop RPGs). I also try to read when I have the time. Lots of comics (mainstream and avant garde). I enjoy theater and acappella. This is starting to feel like a dating profile…. My perfect date is April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket. …I like movies as well.
Advice for Prospies: Try something new. You may think you know what you want to do upon arriving in grad school, and that’s great! Go for it! But, you may not be as sure. In either case, try something a little different. Get out of your comfort zone. That’s when you grow the most.

Cindy LinIMG_3796_edited

Field of Study: Neutrino physics
Research Summary:Developing purification model for liquid xenon detectors, specifically Enriched Xenon Observatory (EXO-200) experiment and the next generation nEXO experiment.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Cooking, puzzling, drinking, and hanging out with friends!
Advice for Prospies: Work/study with the people in your year, don’t hesitate to ask for help from the older graduate students, and don’t be a hermit crab! Also, be involved in the student organizations! They are a great way to meet people outside of the department and you will get a say on the events that your student activity fees go towards.

Michael Schlenkerschlenker

Field of Study: Solar Physics
Research Summary: I examine how thermal instabilities in the corona’s plasma affect the density profile of the outgoing solar wind.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Video games, reading, game of thrones theorizing, card and board games
Advice for Prospies: You’re going to learn a lot in grad school, not just about physics, but your own interests too. Don’t be afraid to reach out and explore unknown territory, be it activities with the other students, city events, or research interests. You just might be pleasantly surprised.

Rob Stoneunnamed-2

Field of Study: Astrophysics
Research Summary: I study winds from the accretion disks around black holes in quasars using optical spectra and radio data.
Fun things I do besides Physics: Outside of research I enjoy playing my tenor saxophone in both Drexel’s fusion band and concert band.  I also like playing football, soccer, basketball, video games, board games, and collectible card games.
Advice for Prospies: My advice is to find something that you enjoy doing outside of school work and research to relax and unwind.

John TimlinJT_Pix

Field of Study: Observational Astrophysics
Research Summary: I study the evolution of the large scale structure in the universe by measuring the spatial position of bright galaxies, called quasars, in different snapshots in time. The evolution of quasars is directly linked to both the large scale physics and small scale processes that govern universal evolution.
Fun things I do besides Physics:  I am an avid sports fan (particularly hockey) and love to play when I get the chance. I also enjoy lifting weights as a stress relief and playing video games!
Advice for Prospies: “Love what you do and do what you love”


Matthew MawhinneyJapan-37

Field of Study: Biophysics
Research Summary: My research focuses on the self-assembly process of insulin into amyloid fibrils — structures found in plaques characteristic to Alzheimer’s disease.  I utilize varies spectroscopic and microscopic techniques to elucidate the role of the small multi-protein aggregates known as oligomer.  These in vitro studies help to understand the mechanisms at play prior to fibril nucleation, a period in which the oligomers present are suspected of being highly cytotoxic
Fun things I do besides Physics: I live for music and guitar.  If it’s post, doom, or gaze anything, it’s for me.  I travel and try new foods whenever I have a chance.  I always enjoy a good beer, preferably IPAs and saisons.  I’m a hobbyist photographer and like cacti / succulents.  Also, cats are rad
Advice for Prospies: If it doesn’t work, keep trying.  It might take months to figure something out, but when you do, it’ll be so obvious and simple.  Welcome to graduate school.