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Alumni Advisory Board

Alumni Advisory Board

The Physics Alumni Advisory Board is a distinguished group of accomplished individuals who have graduated from our esteemed physics program. Through their involvement, the Physics Alumni Advisory Board significantly contributes to the continued success and growth of our physics department and empowers the next generation of physicists to excel in their careers.

Meet the Alumni Advisory Board

Wesley A. Burgei, B.S. 2001, M.S. 2003

Wes attended Miami University from 1998 to 2003 earning a BS and MS degree in physics in 2001 and 2003, respectively. While an undergraduate he was an active researcher in Dr. Michael Pechan's laboratory publishing several papers and attending and presenting at the Annual Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials. Wes received the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Award during the 2001-2002 school year. He continued working under Dr. Pechan as a graduate student publishing additional papers and completing a research thesis. As a graduate teaching assistant he received the American Association of Physics Teachers Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Award.

Wes currently works for the United States Department of Defense as a Physical Scientist assigned to the Marine Corps. He manages a portfolio of research and development projects aimed at developing physics-based computational models that can predict and characterize the probability of injury of a variety of intermediate force capabilities. This work includes better understanding the potential effects of emerging Directed Energy capabilities. Before joining the federal government as a civil servant in 2009, Wes worked as a Technology and Research Analyst for American Systems.

He currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife and two children. 

Jeff Dulaney, B.S. 1981

Dr. Jeff Dulaney is President and CEO of LSP Technologies, Inc., a high tech firm in Dublin, Ohio, which uses high energy lasers to make the world a safer place. Dr. Dulaney has more than 20 years of experience in high energy laser development, particularly in system designs for laser peening, laser bond inspection, and laser land mine neutralization. Dr. Dulaney and LSP Technologies have produced a library of intellectual property, including more than 70 patents.

Dr. Dulaney founded LSP Technologies in 1995 to commercialize the innovative surface enhancement process known as laser peening, which inhibits the initiation and propagation of fatigue cracks. Laser peening has been particularly effective in gas turbine engines for both aerospace and power generation. The future application potential is much broader, encompassing automotive parts, orthopedic implants, and tool and die manufacturing.

Prior to founding LSP Technologies, Dr. Dulaney worked at Battelle as part of the high energy laser group, designing and developing high energy pulsed laser systems for both government and industrial applications. His work has included programs related to President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, which led to the development of the first prototype laser system for use on production laser peening applications.

Dr. Dulaney earned his Bachelor’s degree in physics from Miami University, which provided an excellent foundation for his graduate work at the University of Pittsburgh, from which he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1986. While at Miami, he did research in the atomic physics group headed by Dr. Bill Wells, at the same time Professor Emeritus, Dr. Doug Marcum, was working on his Ph.D. He currently resides in Delaware, Ohio, with his wife, Suzanne, also a Miami University alumna.

Eric Frey, B.S. 2009

Eric Frey is Vice President of Finance and Strategy at Gevo, a sustainable fuels company. Though Eric is a biophysicist by training, his career has largely focused on clean energy investment banking. Prior to Gevo, Eric served as Director at Citigroup, where he executed M&A and capital markets transactions and helped launch the Clean Energy Transition investment banking coverage group, advising public and private energy transition companies with a focus on low-carbon fuels, specifically Sustainable Aviation Fuel, Renewable Natural Gas and Renewable Diesel.

Eric grew up in Ohio and Minnesota, and now lives in Houston with his wife and three daughters. He holds a PhD in Physics from Rice University and a BS in Physics from Miami University.

Sarah Hernandez, M.S. 2009

Sarah C. Hernandez earned her undergraduate BS degree at Texas Christian University in Physics and Astronomy and Mathematics. In 2009 she received her MS in Physics at Miami University. Her time at Miami University she worked with Dr. Mick Pechan on experimental studies of magnetic materials and presented at the Magnetism and Magnetic Materials and American Physical Society March Meeting conferences. She also received the Outstanding Graduate Research Award in 2009.

Afterwards, she attended the University of Texas at Arlington and was awarded with a Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Fellowship and received her PhD in Physics in the spring of 2015. During her time as a graduate student, she became a Seaborg Institute Summer Research Fellow and interned at Los Alamos National Laboratory for two summers. Her dissertation work specialized in density functional theory studies of gallium alloyed delta-plutonium bulk and surfaces. Upon graduation she became a Seaborg Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory from May 2015 to August 2017, and was converted to Research Scientist in the Nuclear Materials Group (MST-16) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has been studying plutonium science for approximately 8 years in both theoretical and experimental capacities. Due to her previous experimental experience at Miami University, she was given the opportunity at Los Alamos National Laboratory to learn Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. To date she has published nine first-author peer-reviewed papers associated with density functional theory calculations on plutonium materials, in which the calculations utilized various implementations of density functional theory through all-electron and pseudopotential codes, such as WIEN2K and VASP. Sarah has presented her work internationally and has received multiple recognitions for her work by being awarded with Los Alamos National Laboratory Outstanding Presentation Award for Postdoc Research Day in 2015 and the ANS Pu Futures Student Poster Award in 2014. In addition, her work has been selected to be featured as a front cover image for the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter volume 26 2014 issue.

She currently lives in Los Alamos, New Mexico with her husband Samir, and two kids, Celeste and Maximus.

Jay Kumler, B.S. 1986

Jay Kumler is President of Jenoptik Optical Systems, the US optics operations of Jenoptik AG. In this role, Jay is responsible for manufacturing facilities in Jupiter, Florida, Huntsville, Alabama and Jenoptik’s Silicon Valley Application Center in Fremont, California.

Jenoptik AG is a globally operating integrated photonics group with 4,000 employees present in more than 80 countries with customers in the semiconductor equipment, automotive, medical, defense and entertainment industry.

Prior to Jenoptik, Kumler founded Coastal Optical Systems which he lead for 10 years and sold to Jenoptik AG. Before Coastal, Kumler designed optical systems for United Technologies Optical Systems and Bell Laboratories. With over 30 years of optical design and engineering experience, Kumler is a published author, and has a number of technical publications and patents.

He is an advisor and founding sponsor of the annual SPIE Startup Challenge pitch competition in San Francisco. Jay serves on the Board of Advisors on the Luminate Accelerator in Rochester, NY. He is an SPIE Fellow and served on the SPIE board of directors from 2010-2012. Kumler is also past president of the American Precision Optics Manufacturing Association (APOMA). Jay earned a B.S. Physics from Miami University (1986) and a M.S. Optics from the University of Rochester Institute Of Optics (1987).

Katie (Hamilton) Pennington, B.S. Education 1994

Katie (Hamilton) Pennington is a 1994 graduate of Miami University, BS in Education, Magna Cum Laude with Honors in Physics. While at Miami, she was an undergraduate assistant for the Teaching Science with TOYS program under Dr. Beverley Taylor. She taught at Trotwood-Madison High School for 11 years, then joined Miamisburg City Schools in 2005. Katie earned a Masters of Science in Teaching, concentration in Physics, at Wright State University in 2000. In 2012, she was recognized as Miami University’s Sigma Xi Outstanding High School Teacher. Mrs. Pennington has served as a resource teacher for many professional development programs for teachers in the area as well as a mentor to several student teachers. She currently teaches Physics,  AP Physics, and Physical Science at Miamisburg High School and is the Science Department Chair.  Katie married to Chris ('95) and parent to Sandy ('22) and Tyler ('27).

Scott Secrest, M.S. 1998

Scott Secrest attended Miami University from 1995 to 1998 and graduated with a B.S. degree in physics and minors in mathematics and French. While at Miami, Scott was involved with research, starting by working in the lab of Dr. Mick Pechan before switching to do research in theoretical quantum optics with Dr. Perry Rice. Scott was involved with the Miami Chapter of the Society of Physics Students as well as the Miami University Astronomy Club. After graduating from Miami, Scott attended the University of Arizona for graduate studies in physics. After spending the first year doing theoretical research with Dr. Pierre Meystre on Bose-Einstein condensates, Scott realized that his passion was for teaching physics more than doing research and decided to look into teaching physics at the high school level. He worked with Dr. Ingrid Novodvorski whose area was Physics Education Research and decided to work on redeveloping the introductory physics labs in Electricity and Magnetism as part of his Master’s thesis (taking inspiration from the revisions that happened with Mike Brown and Dr. Glenn Julian while he was a student at Miami).

Scott has been teaching Honors Physics, AP Physics C: Mechanics and AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism at St. Francis de Sales School in Toledo, Ohio since 2000 and has been the Science Department Chair since 2005. He enjoys helping promote the interest of high school students in studying physics and engineering at college. He is also moderator of the robotics club and teaches a LEGO Robotics Camp for middle school students in the summer. In class, Scott tries to spend time teaching about solar energy, received a $10,000 grant from BP to support this, and received the Eco-Educator Award through Lourdes University in 2013. Scott also enjoys taking students on summer service trips and has led groups to Lincoln County, West Virginia each summer since 2002 to work with the kids in that community.