Physics and astronomy alumni
Our alumni have gone on to a great variety of careers in science, technology and teaching. Many hold prestigious positions at universities, national laboratories and observatories, and in industry.
Philip Ammar ('04) completed a law degree in 2010 at Case Western Reserve University School of Law following two years in Dushanbe, Tajikistan working with the aid organization Shelter for Life and a year in northern Iraq managing the construction of an aquaduct to supply water to a city of 150,000. Phil is working in patent law for Turocy & Watson in Cleveland. He is willing to talk to current students about careers in law.
Tim Atallah ('11) is a graduate student in physical chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin.
Jennafer Banister ('10) is a graduate student at the University of Rochester.
Chris Beaumont ('07) is a fifth year Ph.D. student at the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy. Since September 2010,he has been conducting his dissertation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. In June 2011, he was awarded a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellowship to continue his study in Boston.
Rachel Boerner ('11) is a graduate student in medical physics at East Carolina University.
Anthony Bouvette ('05) works for L-3 Communications in their Electromagnetic Interference/Compliance lab in Cincinnati. He is primarily involved with electrical performance testing on the jet engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Llian Breen ('05) worked for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the NOAA commissioned Corps for two years and is now a student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
Kristin Bush (minor '05) is teaching English (and Physics) at Illiana Christian High School. In 2010 Kristin completed a masters in English education at the University of Illinois.
Andrew Butler ('07) is a graduate student in astronomy at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.
Alexis Reynolds Cook ('06) is working at Epic, a medical software company in Wisconsin. She provides technical support to several hospitals across the country for their operating room management product.
Peter Cook ('05) is a graduate student in physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studies organic dyes using x-ray spectroscopy at the Synchrotron Radiation Center and hopes to make viable inexpensive solar cells.
Elise Crull ('05, Ph.D. Philosophy of Physics, Notre Dame, '11) will be doing a 2 year post-doc at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. She will be doing full time research, collaborating on a book with a professor there. She spoke at Calvin in spring 2010 on "Quantum Decoherence" and in spring 2008 on "Should Christians be Structural Realists?"
J. Clark Cully ('03, Ph.D. Michigan) works for the U.S. Department of Defense on national security policy and arms control & nonproliferation. He previously worked at the Department of Energy on sensors to monitor foreign nuclear programs and detect nuclear smuggling. After graduate work in high energy particle physics at Fermilab (see his 2007 Calvin seminar), he made the transition to Washington in 2008 via a fellowship in science public policy with the National Academy of Sciences, a program he highly recommends to other grad students.
Nathan Danks ('11) is employed by the state of Michigan as a radiological safety officer.
Kristin Datema ('06) teaches high school Physics and Math at Central Valley Christian High School in Visalia, CA.
Anna DeKievit Boorsma (minor '10) is teaching conceptual physics and chemistry at Holland Christian High School.
James Deterding ('07 minor) teaches physics and math at Chapelgate Christian Academy in Maryland.
Charlotte DuLaney Stahl ('11) was accepted in the UNC-Charlotte Optical Science and Engineering PhD program. She hopes to eventually do research in the field of biomedical optics.
Mark Gordon ('03, Ph.D. in Mech. Eng.) is a mechanical engineering
professor at California Baptist University. Mark worked at Innotec for
two years before attending graduate school at the University of
Michigan where he studied the effect of muscle activation level on
steadiness in the Biomechanics Research Lab.
Matt Gritter ('05) is a Software Engineer at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Jacci Guikema Busch ('01, MDiv, Calvin Seminary 2005) is pastor of McBain Christian Reformed Church in McBain, Michigan (near Cadillac).
Melissa Haegert Dykhuis ('10) is a graduate student in planetary science at the University of Arizona, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She received a Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.
Kathy Hoogeboom Pot ('08) is a graduate student in physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Carolyn Johnson ('10) planned to start TRS Alternative Designs, to design and market solar power systems.
Andrew Jordan ('05, Ph.D.Astronomy, Boston University '10) is now a research scientist at the University of New Hampshire in the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space.He is studying how the Sun's magnetic field affects cosmic rays. To do that, he uses the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which is a NASA spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.
Armin Karim ('08) is a graduate student in musicology at Case Western Reserve University.
Mason Klein ('02, Ph.D. Physics, Harvard) is doing a post-doc in biophysics. He stopped back for a visit in Spring 2004 and gave a talk on Shaking Sand: Separation, Pattern Formation, and the Gas between the Grains.
Casey Koopmans ('04 minor) teaches high school physics in St. Joseph, MI.
Kristin Kuzera Palacios ('04, MDiv, Calvin Seminary, '10) was called (and ordained) by Holland Heights CRC to continue her education. She has been accepted for a Ph.D. program at Notre Dame in Old Testament Studies. She wrote a 2008 column on young adults and church involvement.
Luke Leisman ('11) is a graduate student in the astronomy PhD program at Cornell.
Nathan Meyers ('10) is a graduate student at Boston University in the Physics PhD program.
D. Lee Miller ('05, Ph.D. Georgia Tech) is a post-doc in Boulder, Colorado.
Jon Niehof ('00, Ph.D. Astronomy, Boston University '10) is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Lab. Among other projects he is working on the ECT suite for NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission, scheduled for launch in 2012.
Ross Norman ('08) is a process engineer at Electro-Optics Technology in Traverse City, Michigan, which develops Faraday rotators, photodetectors, and other high-tech optical equipment.
Jeff Olivero ('07) teaches physics at Liberty High School in Colorado Springs.
David Pastoor ('04) is a systems engineer at Raytheon in Denver, designing ground control systems for satellites.
Michael Scholten ('03) has a masters degree in physics from the University of Maryland, and works at GE Aviation in the Analytics
Group of Vehicle Health and Data Management. The projects are roughly centered around data mining and anomaly detection.
Zachary Smith ('09) is a graduate student at the University of Maryland.
Jessie Taylor ('08) completed a masters in Biblical studies at Notre Dame University. In the fall of 2010 she became a PhD graduate student in the physics department at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sam Terfa ('08 minor) teaches high school science and math at Minnehaha Academy in Minnesota.
Andrew Vache ('05) worked for a few years at Authentix, Inc., a company that makes anti-counterfeit materials for petroleum and pharmaceuticals worldwide, such as unique phosphorecent markers in pharmaceutical packaging. The company valued Andrew's physics training to complement the work of chemists in this new and growing field. Andrew is now the Physics Lab Specialist at University of Maryland Baltimore County, designing student labs, assisting with research projects, and automating their observatory.
Andrew Vanden Heuvel ('04, M.S. U Florida) After earning a masters degree in astronomy, Andrew obtained a high school teaching certificate. He taught high school for several years, involving his students in Calvin collaborations to discover asteroids. Andrew is now engaged in numerous education projects at the state and national level through his work with Michigan Virtual School and USA TODAY Education. Andrew has returned to Calvin to teach in the physics department and develop education and outreach programs.
Jake Vander Plas ('03) Since graduating from Calvin, Jacob VanderPlas has published several papers on cutting edge research in astronomy, cosmology, and computing. He is now completing his PhD at the University of Washington, but before beginning doctoral studies spent a year teaching English in Japan and two years as a mountaineering instructor and outdoor educator in California. He also designs planetarium shows and is an expert at explaining complex topics like dark energy and gravitational lensing to the general public.
John Vander Weide ('05) has completed a dual Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the French engineering school Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Arts et Métiers (ENSAM). He is currently working as an engineer with Areva, a nuclear power and renewable energy company.
Josh Vanderhill ('09) is a graduate student in the PhD program in Physics at the University of Texas, Dallas.
John Van Dyke ('08) is a graduate student in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago, planning to specialize in philosophy of science.
David Van Norstrand ('03) is in the joint MD/PhD graduate program at the Mayo Clinic. In summer 2010 he defended his PhD thesis entitled "The Cardiac Sodium Channel Macromolecular Complex and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome", and will be starting residency in fall of 2012.
Matt Voorman ('05, M.D. University of Southern California '10) completed a General Surgery internship at the University of California. In July of 2011 will be starting a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at Geisinger Medical Center, in Danville, Pennsylvania.
Jess Vriesema ('09) is a graduate student at the University of Arizona in computational physics.
Chris Walker ('05) works as a Project Manager in the Design and Integration of Machine Vision Systems and Factory Automation for EPIC Systems, Inc. in St. Louis, Missouri.
Tom Wilhelm ('11) is a graduate student in the masters program in applied physics at Northern Illinois University.
David Young ('02 minor) works as an instructional designer for Michigan Virtual School.
Michael Dekker ('98, Ph.D. Notre Dame) is a professor in the mathematics department of Ferris State University and studies topology.
Jason English ('99) teaches physics at William Fremd High School in Palatine, IL. He earned National Board Certification in 2005 and a Masters Degree in Physics Education from Roosevelt University the same year.
Matthew Falk ('97) teaches at Western Michigan Christian High School.
Sarah Bowen Fay ('98) teaches high school physics and math at Chicago Christian School.
Christopher Hartemink ('96; Ph.D., Mechanical and Medical Engineering, MIT and Harvard Medical School, 2004) is a research scientist in heart failure at Guidant where he studies biventricular resynchronization therapy. Chris holds a patent for a heart valve prostheses. He completed majors in both physics and engineering at Calvin.
Ben Langdon (minor, Ph.D. Physical Chemistry) is a post-doctoral researcher in the NSF Engineering Research Center for Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) Science and Technology at Colorado State University. He studies table-top ultra-high power EUV lasers. Research on lasers is truly interdisciplinary, at the intersection of chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering.
Geoff Lenters ('93, Ph.D.) studies the astrophysics of x-ray burst sources and is a professor in the Grand Valley State University physics department.
Hugh Nymeyer ('94, Ph.D. biophysics U.C. San Diego) does computational studies of protein folding and membrane-protein interactions. He is assistant professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Florida State University.
Phil Polstra ('90, M.S., Purdue) is Professor of Aviation at University of Dubuque, in Dubuque, IA.
Lewis Reynolds ('93, Ph.D '02) lives in Denver and works in the area of signal processing, specifically aerial spectroscopy for ground surveys.
Harold Schnyders ('91, Ph.D.) studies solid state physics and is a professor in the Grand Valley State University physics department.
Bob Steen ('93, Ph.D. in physics Rice University) received his Ph.D. from the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rice University. He is now a management consultant at Princeton Consultants in New Jersey.
David Steensma ('92, M.D. University of Chicago) is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research area is hematology (studying diseases of the blood, such as leukemia). Before starting at Harvard in 2009, Dave was a professor at the Mayo Clinic.
David Streutker ('97, Ph.D. Physics and Astronomy, Rice University) is a project scientist at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in Washington D. C., which geospatial intelligence in support of national security.
David Tong ('99) received his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Connecticut in 2010 and has done work at Westminster Seminary.
Angela Van Woerkom Portenga ('98) teaches physics at Providence Christian High School in Fremont, Michigan.
Marvin Bolt ('84; Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science, Notre Dame) is a curator at Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum in Chicago. He recently found two telescopes from the 1600s that had been "lost" in museum storerooms (and gave a seminar at Calvin about it).
Howard Bushouse (`80; Ph.D., Astronomy, U. Illinois) is a Scientist and Senior Scientific Programmer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD (science headquarters for the Hubble Space Telescope). His time there is split between research and software development in the Space Telescope Science Data Analysis System (STSDAS) group.
David Cole ('85; Ph.D. Astronomy, University of Chicago) is a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory working on the Spitzer Space Telescope, studying the universe at infrared wavelengths.
Mike Evele ('88) teaches physics at Grandville High School.
Ron Geerlings ('80) and his wife Sue have served with Christian Reformed World Missions since graduating from Calvin in 1980. For the last several years, Sue has joined Ron as a volunteer in the regional office where he supports and oversees CRWM ministry in West Africa.
Eric Hessels ('84, Ph.D., Physics, Notre Dame) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at York University, doing experimental atomic physics, including studies of anti-hydrogen with Gerry Gabrielse.
Phillip Keegstra ('82) works for the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) doing ocean remote sensing. This is interdisciplinary work, as they try to sense ocean biological processes using atmospheric and water physics and chemistry.
Alison Kuipers ('83) is a senior engineer at Goodrich Avionics.
W. Ted Masselink ('81) is a physics professor at Humboldt University of Berlin.
Pam Naber Knox ('80; M.S., Meteorology, University of Wisconsin) is a University of Georgia climatologist in Bio and Ag Engineering. She served in state climatology offices in Wisconsin and in Georgia for nearly 20 years. Knox is also a Certified Consulting Meteorologist and for the past decade has worked on numerous court cases; in August 2011 she was the subject of a live interview on The Weather
Channel regarding her work in forensic meteorology. Read a transcript of a December 6, 2011, Georgia radio station interview.
Steve Remillard ('88, Ph.D., The College of William and Mary, 1993) is a professor in the Hope College physics department. Steve studies microwave measurement and microwave induced phenomena, such as microwave superconductivity, microwave photonic bandgap structures, and microwave induced discharges in gases. Before his teaching career, he did research at Los Alamos National Lab, the University of Wuppertal (Germany), the Naval Research Lab. He worked in industry for several years doing research and product development, including as Director of Engineering at Illinois Superconductor Corporation.
Jon Seerveld ('83) is an optical engineer, living in Hawaii and working at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.
James TenCate ('80; Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas at Austin, 1992) is a geophysicist studying seismo-acoustics at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His group models the non-linear elasticity of rocks, a topic which is clearly important for understanding earthquakes, and has broader applications in other materials (such as damaged solids and compressed powdered metals). Jim is also Technical Editor for The Vintage Triumph, the national magazine of the Vintage Triumph Register, the club for Triumph motorcar enthusiasts.
Tom Van Baak ('80, brother of Prof David Van Baak) collects vintage and atomic clocks (see his website leapsecond.com). He recently involved his kids in perhaps the first homemade relativity experiment, reported in a letter to Physics Today and an article in Wired Magazine.
Bill Zeilstra ('82) is an avid amateur astronomer. He wrote astronomy-themed devotionals for the June 2001 issue of Today (download the PDF file).
Tom Ackerman ('70; Ph.D.) is Chief Scientist in the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program of the Department of Energy, studying global warming and public policy. In 2005, he was on campus to give a lecture in the January series (audio available at that link).
David Cok ('75; Ph.D. Harvard) is Chief Technologist at Eastman Kodak Research Laboratories, studying the science & technology of digital imaging.
Marten den Boer ('73, Ph.D.) After 20-odd years in the City University of New York system, as professor and as administrator, Marten moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and is provost at Cal Poly Pomona.
Shirley Fleischman ('73, Ph.D) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Grand Valley State University and was the Carnegie Foundation Michigan Professor of the Year in 1998.
Gerald Gabrielse ('73; Ph.D., Physics, Chicago, 1980) is the 2011 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize recipient. He is the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics at Harvard University. He recently won the George Ledlie Prize for his research on anti-matter and in 2007 was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. His high-precision measurement of the electron magnetic moment was named the 2006 AIP Physics Story of the Year. On a lighter note, one of his papers was used in a February 2007 sketch by comedian Conan O'Brien with guest Jim Carrey (watch it here).
Keith Griffioen ('79; Ph.D., Physics, Stanford 1984) does accelerator experiments on elementary particles and serves as Chair and Professor of Physics at the College of William and Mary. In 2006, he was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society "for definitive experimental studies of the spin structure of the proton and neutron, both in the perturbative, deep-inelastic regime, and in the non-perturbative resonance region." In the fall of 2010 he spoke to the department on the topic "How does the Proton Spin?"
Steve Haan ('73; Ph.D., Physics, Maryland, 1977) studies nuclear fusion as Group Leader at the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Labs.
Todd Hoeksema ('78, Ph.D.) is a Senior Scientist in the Solar Observatories Group at Stanford. His team designed the Michelson Doppler Imager instrument on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). He recently was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal for his leadership in crafting a 30-year road map for NASA heliophysics research. His work was featured in an April 2012 episode of Nova "Secrets of the Sun." Calvin's alumni magazine Spark profiledTodd and his work in the Winter 2006 issue.
Robert Hollebeek ('70, Ph.D.) is an expert in using supercomputers in physics and medicine. He serves as Director of the National Scalable Cluster Project, Chief Architect for the National Digital Mamography Archive, and Professor of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania.
James Huffman ('79, Ph.D. Michigan State) is Director of Sales and Manufacturing at the Lawrence Semiconductor Research Laboratory.
James Katerberg ('75, PhD, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, '80) works for the Kodak Graphic Communication Group. James has 20 patents in the field of inkjet. James is the intellectual property coordinator for Dayton Ohio based inkjet group.
Harold Reitsema ('72, Ph.D. Astronomy, New Mexico State) leads the Advanced Systems group at Ball Aerospace, which is responsible for developing new mission concepts for NASA, such as Deep Impact and the Kepler mission to discover Earth-like planets around nearby stars. His past work includes building Hubble Space Telescope instruments, the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite, and the GIOTTO mission to Comet Halley.
Lyle Roelofs ('75, Ph.D., Physics, Maryland) On June 30, 2012, Lyle will become the ninth president of Berea College in Berea, Ky. Founded in 1855 by abolitionist preacher John G. Fee, Berea is a Christian liberal arts college committed to the Appalachian region and to interracial education. Lyle currently serves as Provost and Dean of the Faculty and as professor of physics at Colgate University. Besides teaching, Lyle has held a number of administrataive posts, visiting appointments and research fellowships in his 35-plus years of academic service. His research area is computational condensed matter physics; he spoke on campus in spring 2011.
Stuart Rupke ('71, M.D.) is a physician and assistant program director of a medical residency program at Synergy Medical Education Alliance.
Joe VanAndel ('78, Masters in Computer Science, U.C.Berkeley) works in the Earth Observing Laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, writing data acquisition and control software for weather radar systems.
James VanDam ('70, Ph.D.) is the research division director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, part of the U.S. Department of Energy. Previously Jim was professor and director at the Institute for Fusion Studies at the University of Texas, Austin.
Hugh Vander Plas ('72, Ph.D. '76 from Stanford in Materials Science) worked at Hewlett Packard for 22 years, filing several patents for devices that include components for high-speed ink-jet printers. He began a second career as the Science Program Director at the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust before his death in 2012.
John Zwart ('77, Ph.D. Michigan State) is a physics professor at Dordt College in Sioux Center Iowa.
Alvin Compaan ('65; Ph.D., 1971 Chicago) develops technologies for solar power cells as Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Center for Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Toledo.
After 19 years, Ryan Doezema ('64; Ph.D., Physics, U. Maryland) recently stepped down as Chair of the University of Oklahoma Department of Physics and Astronomy. "[Doezema] has secured a place in history as one of the most oustanding department chairs ever," said Paul B. Bell Jr., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University. (more)
Ken Klaasen ('68, M.S. Aerospace Science, University of Michigan) is Supervisor of the Imaging Science Group at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He has been involved in the imaging experiments on many solar system exploration missions including Mariner 10, Viking Orbiter, and the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and most recently coordinated all aspects of scientific mission planning and flight operation for the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1. Read an interview with Ken about the Stardust-NEXT mission he is currently involved in.
Rick Shoemaker ('66, Ph.D.) is professor and director at the Optical Sciences Center at the University of Arizona. He hosted the Astronomy in the Southwest interim class on the day they visited Tucson in January 2009.
Paul Vanden Bout ('61, Ph.D. U. C. Berkeley) recently completed 18 years as Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 2003. He was featured in an article in the Sparc alumni magazine.
Terry Van Kalker ('64) teaches at Grand Rapids Christian High School.
Alex Dragt ('58; Ph.D. Physics U. C. Berkeley) studies mathematical physics, is a Professor of Physics and former department chair at the University of Maryland, and won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1985.
The Honorable Vernon J. Ehlers ( '56; Ph.D. U. C. Berkeley) served as a United States Congressmen, representing western Michigan, from 1993 until 2011. A former Calvin Physics professor, he won Calvin's Distinguished Alumni Award in 1996.
Henk Van Andel ('59, Ph.D.) is past president of The King's University College in Edmonton Alberta.