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Alumni Career Profiles

Below are a few examples of WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy alum whose degrees launched them into successful careers. For broader statistics on post-degree career trajectories for those who study physics and astronomy, be sure to visit the American Institute of Physics Statistical Research Center.

Showing 26 of 26 profiles

  • Disheng Chen

    Ph.D., 2017; Principal Investigator, Optical Department at Multi-Field Low Temperature Technology (Beijing) Co., LTD.

    "The education at WVU prepared me with the spirit of questioning, the value of sharing and collaboration, and the methodologies and skills of conducting scientific research. All these truly underpin my later academic and industrial career in all aspects."

  • Scott K. Cushing

    B.S. 2011, Ph.D. 2018; Assistant Professor at California Institute of Technology

    "Being at WVU from my undergraduate through Ph.D. gave me the freedom to explore multiple research topics without boundaries. The tight knit research community taught me many fields I would have never had access to while forming lifelong friendships."

  • James E. Galford

    B.S. 1974; Chief Scientific Advisor at Halliburton

    "The skills I developed while earning a physics degree at WVU enabled me to have a successful and rewarding applied science career."

  • David M. Hartley

    B.S., 1989; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

  • Rachel Henderson

    Ph.D. 2018; Assistant Professor at Michigan State University

    "I’m a physics education researcher who studies instructional pedagogies and assessment tools that can be used for improving learning for all students. As a member of the broader physics community, I’m committed to providing fair and effective educational practices in order to increase the representation of women and other historically marginalized groups within the field of physics."

  • Colin Komar

    Ph.D. 2015; Analyst, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

    "I always say that the most valuable skill I gained in graduate school is that I 'learned how to learn.' You may not always know the answer or how to accomplish a given task. So the skills I gained were how to formulate the currently unknown task into an answerable question and then be able to find the resources, papers, techniques, and/or experts that would best be able to assist in obtaining that answer. (Oh, and the wisdom to distinguish a credible source from the noise.)"

  • Gary Lander

    Ph.D. 2022; Experimental Physicist and Optical Engineer at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL)

    "WVU provided the environment and tools necessary for me to be able to walk into a national lab after graduate school and have the skills, knowledge, and confidence to immediately start contributing to the projects that I was assigned."

  • Rob McTaggart

    B.S., 1991; Assistant Department Head & Associate Professor, South Dakota State University Department of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Physics

  • Ratna Naik

    Ph.D. 1982; Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs and Academic Personnel & Professor of Physics, Wayne State University

    "It is an honor to be part of WVU physics."

  • Jack Powers

    B.S., 2020; Surface Warfare Officer - Nuclear Option, United States Navy (USN)

    “I highly recommend taking advantage of the research opportunities within the department. Not only did it help me to better understand concepts I was learning in my classes, but it gave me the ability to see the practical application of the theories we discussed firsthand."

  • Joshua Ridley

    Ph.D., 2010; Associate Professor of Physics and Physics Program Coordinator at Murray State University

    "The WVU Physics and Astronomy faculty are experts in their fields of study. In some cases they did not just teach from the book, they actually wrote the book. I was given the opportunity to teach classes, take classes, perform research, travel, and constantly learn. But it was the mentorship by some great faculty that best prepared me for a career in academia."

  • Brent Shapiro-Albert

    Ph.D. 2021; Science Writer and Community Advocate for Universe Sandbox

    "I'm using the skills I learned in graduate school to make astronomy and physics more accessible, engaging, and fun for people of all ages through a unique and interactive platform."

  • Sobhit Singh

    Ph.D. 2018; Assistant Professor at University of Rochester, New York

    "I express my sincere gratitude to WVU for thoroughly preparing me for my academic journey. The coursework, research experience, training opportunities, and, most importantly, the scholarships and fellowships at WVU have played a crucial role in shaping the academic path that has led me to where I am today. I aspire to reciprocate this support one day by contributing to the growth and success of future Mountaineers, thereby giving back to the WVU community.”

  • Randy P. Tompkins

    B.S. 2003, Ph.D. 2009; Chief, Sensor Experimentation Branch, Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL)

    “The WVU physics department provided me with an excellent physics education. I was surrounded by excellent professors who cared about their students and challenged me intellectually. I was fortunate enough to perform research as an undergraduate then transition into Dr. Thomas Myers' laboratory as a graduate research assistant where I learned how to do effectively perform research. He and others in the department taught me important ideas related to attention to detail, communication, and intellectual curiosity that I still use in my job today. I am forever grateful to the faculty and staff at WVU. Being a WV native and earning both degrees from WVU is something that I take great pride.”

  • Kimberly A. Weaver

    B.S. 1987; Astrophysicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

  • Tristan Wilkinson

    Ph.D. 2022; Image Science Engineer at L3Harris

    "The fundamental skill learned in graduate school is research. By learning how to do research, one learns how to learn new things. So in a sense, in graduate school I learned how to learn things. This is an invaluable skill in every aspect of my life, not just my current job. Once the research method is learned, possibilities become endless."