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Applied Physics Graduate Student – Killian Lab

About Me

About Me:
* Experimental physics researcher with an interest in tackling applied challenges
* Long history of quantitative and analytical training
* Strong commitment to personal and professional growth (e.g. leadership, technical, and interpersonal skills)

Goals and Progress Towards Them:
* Gain a strong foundation of technical and interpersonal competencies | PhD expected in Summer 2020
* Find employment matching my interests and values | Currently exploring opportunities across various areas
* Work with colleagues to solve complicated challenges of practical interest. | Career that matches my my values and interests

CV linked here, and on left-hand menu.

A brief presentation on my current research can be found here.

I am a researcher who will be finishing his PhD in applied physics at Rice University by August 2020, and am currently looking at future career opportunities.  My research  focus at Rice is experimental atomic, molecular, and optical physics in the Killian research group, where we trap atoms with lasers while cooling them to just above absolute zero. I am self-starting, highly motivated, outgoing, and consistently involved in leadership roles on campus.


Broad PhD Research Summary : Broad Research Summary: My lab studies fundamental physics using lasers to cool gaseous collections of strontium atoms to temperatures near absolute zero, then trapping them optically (more lasers) in periodic patterns ( an “optical lattice”​). We study how the atoms interact quantum mechanically interactions with each other, as well as with the traps. This offers us an exceptionally precise and controllable environment to explore phenomena in materials  such as superconductivity. We also use lasers to encourage two atoms to form a weakly bound molecules (“photoassociation”), which provide a wealth of information about basic light-matter and atom-atom interactions.  Atomic physics is interesting because it combines the hands-on technical activities that I enjoy (e.g. electronics, optics, machining, programming), with cutting-edge theoretical ideas. In this field, table-top experiments can be designed to reach extraordinary conditions.

Despite it’s long and storied history, atomic physics and atomic spectroscopy is a fast moving field, where Nobel-prize winning techniques from twenty years ago, are now commonly used to advance current research interests. The work is very hands on, where small teams of graduate students and postdocs work closley with each other on a single experiential apparatus.  It is challenging because we alone are responsible for every button, line of code, screw, electrical component, optical element in the room. In short, the knob to student ratio is very high, and leads to our developing excellent problem-solving or debugging stills upon graduation.

For the experts: I work in experimental AMO physics, with ultracold atomic gasses of the element strontium. In this temperature regime, quantum mechanics is the dominant paradigm, and our apparatus provides a precise way to study the creation, interaction, and manipulation of the degenerate atomic ensembles. One question we are interested in exploring is how do novel phases, arise in ultracold (T~mK), trapped atomic ensembles, and how to use this knowledge to better understand material properties; laying the groundwork for the development of new materials for superconductivity, data storage, etc. Currently I am a member of an experiment that hopes to study the emergence of quantum magnetism in optically-trapped, ultra-cold, gaseous ensembles of the alkaline-earth atom strontium (Sr).

Click here to access a grant proposal I wrote when applying for fellowships.

Beyond Research: 

  • Grad Student Association: I have also been heavily involved in the Rice Graduate Student Association (GSA) since my first year of graduate school. Working with the GSA has allowed me to develop a broad array of skills including large-event planning, professional networking, career planning, volunteer coordination, personal organization, communication,  decision making, and negotiation. It is also a rewarding way to accomplish meaningful changes on a time scale shorter than research. For more information on my leadership activities, see the Student/Scholar Leadership section of this site.


  • Other Skills: As a member of a productive experimental research group, I’ve also gained proficiency in navigating a host of real-world challenges including budgetary constraints, project deadlines, and working with a variety of team member personalities. The latter is essential to making efficient use of experimental time, planning lab priorities, and working out differences of opinion. Another critical facet of our work is communication, with equipment suppliers, the public, research colleges, and funding agencies.