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Ph.D. in Physics Placements

Our graduate students continue to work in researchboth in teaching and in lab positions at universities or in the industry.  Here are a few of our alumni stories.

Ph.D. Alumni Stories

Jordan Hachtel ‘16

R&D Associate, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

Dissertation: “The Nanoscale Optical Properties of Complex Nanostructures”
Adviser: Sokrates T. Pantelides

Jordan had a unique and very rewarding experience for his doctoral research. In principle, he pursued a joint theory-experiment program. After initial training in theoretical/computational research while at Vanderbilt, he moved to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) where at the time, as Distinguished Visiting Scientist, he maintained a group of theory post-docs embedded in the electron-microscopy group led by award-winning microscopist Stephen Pennycook, who was among the pioneers of scanning transmission electron microscopy. Jordan continued some theoretical research, but he quickly became an avid microscopist, being mentored in experimental work by a team of expert ORNL microscopists and by Vanderbilt Professor Richard Haglund on optical aspects of STEM-based cathodoluminescence and having access to superb, world-class facilities. Jordan’s Ph.D. thesis received a “Springer Publishing Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award” in 2017. He was hired as a post-doc in the ORNL group and then as a staff scientist. He has since received several microscopy awards.

Junhao Lin ‘15

 Associate Professor, Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen, Guangdong, PR China

Dissertation: “Revealing structure-property correlations in 2D layered materials using synergistic combination of electron microscopy and atomic-scale calculations”

Adviser: Sokrates T. Pantelides

“I spent nearly six years at Vanderbilt to purse my Ph.D. degree. My adviser Sok is knowledgeable and professional in the field of condensed matter physics. He gave me rich ideas whenever we discussed, and also lead me to the right track of independent research. The faculty members in the physics department are very helpful and friendly to each student and offer help to all students whenever they need it. The Vanderbilt campus is wonderful, and I will always be grateful for having my graduate study at Vanderbilt.”

Sarah Crews ‘14

Technical Staff Scientist, MIT Lincoln Laboratories

Dissertation: “Mechanics of Drosophila embryogenesis and heat-shock induced developmental defects”
Adviser: M. Shane Hutson

“Graduate studies in the Vanderbilt physics department taught me to think at a system level to scope and define a problem, and then pull together interdisciplinary ideas and techniques to find a solution. The ability to see the big picture and identify where to dive deep for an innovative technical solution has been invaluable for my career.”

Holley Lynch ‘12

Associate Professor of Physics, Stetson University

Dissertation: “Investigating Cell and Tissue Mechanics During Drosophila Embryogenesis Using Laser Microsurgery”
Adviser: M. Shane Hutson

“My experiences at Vanderbilt prepared me for my current position, which emphasizes both teaching and involving undergraduates in research. I entered Vanderbilt knowing I wanted to be a teacher-scholar and the resources both in the physics department and at the Center for Teaching helped me get there.”

Ryan Hatcher ‘07

Vice President of Engineering & Innovation, Ultra Intelligence & Communications, Austin, TX

Thesis title: “Dynamic response of electronic systems: an implementation and application of time-dependent density-functional-theory”
Adviser: Sokrates T. Pantelides

Ryan studied physics as an undergraduate at Wake Forest University but had a strong bend for computational work. He got a master’s degree in computer science at Vanderbilt and then wanted to pursue a Ph.D. degree in computational physics. He had an interest in expanding his research in time-dependent density functional theory and got excited about writing a new computer code from scratch. He did, working closely with then-post-doc Alan Tackett. His thesis research addressed a long-standing problem, the calculation of the so-called stopping power for energetic ions injected in materials, and the results were published in the premier journal Physical Review Letters. He also had an opportunity to work on radiation-induced displacement damage in semiconductor devices with a post-doc, which enriched his physics knowledge. Upon graduation, he quickly secured a job doing computational materials research at Lockheed-Martin, advanced to the position of Senior Research Scientist, joined Samsung Electronics in Austin, TX as Principal Scientist, returned to Lockheed-Martin as Principal Scientist, where he currently works.

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