students and professor

Past Events

2/21/2024

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend their senior capstone presentations:

  • Max Zinman: "Carrier Mobilities in Perovskite Solar Cells;"
  • Ishan Rayen: "Effects of Annealing on Room Temperature Deposited Zinc Oxide."

All are welcome! 

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

2/14/2024

Physics and Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend their senior capstone presentation:

  • Siri Erickson-Green: "Investigation of Tantalum Lead Borate Glass using LITOF-MS."

All are welcome! 

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

11/15/2023

Department of Physics & Astronomy Seminar: Setting Star Formation in Motion

Dr. Elena Sabbi, Deputy Head, Science Mission Office, Space Telescope Science Institute is presenting.

Star formation is a complex, multiscale process affected both by local and global factors. Modern models of molecular cloud collapse now incorporate variables such as stellar feedback, magnetic field, gas and dust temperature, galaxy sheer, galaxy mergers, etc., enabling the formation of loose associations and rich star clusters. However, the limited observational constraints hinder our ability to validate these models. I will discuss how characterizing the internal kinematics of young star clusters in the Local Group can provide insights into the assembly process of regions undergoing massive star formation. Additionally, I will demonstrate how multiwavelength studies of resolved stellar populations in galaxies in the local universe can reveal the dissolution dynamics of regions of recent star formation within the parent galaxy’s field, suggesting potential dissolution timescales.

Refreshments at 3 PM.

11/10/2023

Physics and Environmental Studies Movie Night

Hosted jointly by the Physics and Astronomy Student Group and the Environmental Studies Department. Join us in John B. Davis Hall located in the Campus Center. We will watch the documentary 2040 directed by Damon Gameau. 

11/8/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy Seminar: What nearby galaxies teach us about the beginning of the Universe

Dr. Alexandra Le Reste, Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Physics and Astronomy University of Minnesota, will present " What nearby galaxies teach us about the beginning of the Universe."

The Universe changed drastically during its first billion year as neutral hydrogen gas, which filled the intergalactic space, became ionized. This last major phase transition of the Universe is an important cosmological period known as the Epoch of Reionization. Simulations and new observations using powerful telescopes indicate that primordial galaxies were the main sources of the ionizing UV photons responsible for Reionization. However, many unknowns remain on the mechanisms that enabled these photons to escape the neutral interstellar medium of galaxies to ionize the space around them on much larger scales. Here, I will show how we can use observations of nearby galaxies to understand the physical processes that caused cosmological reionization. In particular, we will see what observations of the neutral gas reservoirs of rare local galaxies analogous to objects in the early universe teach us about the potential role of galaxy interactions during the Epoch of Reionization.

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

11/1/2023

Joint Physics/Astronomy and Philosophy Seminar: Kant’s Aethereal Hammer: When Everything Looks Like a Nail

Bennett McNulty, McKnight Land-Grant Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota will speak on "Kant’s Aethereal Hammer: When Everything Looks Like a Nail."

Throughout Immanuel Kant’s works on natural philosophy, he utilizes an omnipresent aether to explain a wide variety of physical events: including optical, thermodynamical, chemical, and magnetic phenomena. Kant even went as far as claiming that the existence of an omnipresent physical aether can be deduced a priori (without appeal to experience, observation, or experiment), in the notorious “aether proof” of his Opus postumum. In retrospect, these commitments are widely seen as a blunder, especially after the demise of the luminiferous aether at the turn of the 20th century.

Refreshments at 3 p.m. 

10/18/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy Seminar: LIGO and the Detection of Gravitational Waves Film

LIGO and the Detection of Gravitational Waves: A Film by Les Guthman

The thrilling, award-winning, inside story of the discovery that topped NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC's list of “The top 20 Scientific Discoveries of the Decade," the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of gravitational waves from deep space, 2015-2017.

Two discoveries two years apart, which opened a radical new era in astronomy. First, two colliding black holes and then the discovery of two crashing neutron stars and their spectacular light show opened up the 95% of the universe that had been dark to our existing observatories and space telescopes. It's the violent "warped side" of the universe predicted by Einstein -- but never seen until now.

Director Les Guthman witnessed and filmed this dramatic and emotional peak in the lives of the1,000 scientists around the world who risked their careers on a 40-year, $1 billion search for these exquisite messengers from the warped side.

Refreshments at 3 PM.

10/11/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy Seminar: Nanoscience Research at the University of Minnesota

Dr. James Marti, Senior Scientist & Outreach Coordinator, Nano Center, University of Minnesota is speaking about Nanoscience Research at the University of Minnesota.

"Nanoscience and applied nanotechnology have attracted interest from scientists, engineers, and the general public for decades. But what is nanotechnology, and why would someone want to do research in the field of nanoscience? This presentation will offer an introduction to nanoscience and nanotechnology, present a summary of some of the current nanoscience research focus areas at Minnesota, and describe opportunities for faculty and students from other institutions to collaborate with the Nano Center."

Dr. Marti directs the Center’s Nanomaterials and Bio-Nano Labs, which focus on developing and analyzing nanoparticles and exploring their potential biomedical applications.

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

10/4/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy Seminar: Double copy: a new look at scattering amplitudes

Professor Tonnis ter Veldhuis, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Macalester College is presenting on "Double copy: a new look at scattering amplitudes."

The calculation of scattering amplitudes is essential to the field of high energy physics, since amplitudes provide the bridge between theoretical quantum field theory models and detector results from particle accelerator experiments.  Recent advances in this area have uncovered novel color-kinematics and double-copy structures in theories ranging from gauge and gravity theories to effective field theories. I will provide an introduction to these new developments and relate my own contribution in this area made during my sabbatical leave at the University of Groningen, namely a systematic classification of scalar field theories whose amplitudes admit a double copy formulation.

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

10/4/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy Seminar: Double copy: a new look at scattering amplitudes

Professor Tonnis ter Veldhuis, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Macalester College is presenting on "Double copy: a new look at scattering amplitudes."

The calculation of scattering amplitudes is essential to the field of high energy physics, since amplitudes provide the bridge between theoretical quantum field theory models and detector results from particle accelerator experiments.  Recent advances in this area have uncovered novel color-kinematics and double-copy structures in theories ranging from gauge and gravity theories to effective field theories. I will provide an introduction to these new developments and relate my own contribution in this area made during my sabbatical leave at the University of Groningen, namely a systematic classification of scalar field theories whose amplitudes admit a double copy formulation.

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

9/27/2023

Department of Physics and Astronomy: Physics Alumni Panel

Four Physics & Astronomy alums will give an overview of their career paths since leaving Macalester and answer your questions about their choices.

·         Emmy Curtis, '21 - Great Plains Institute

·         Nate Davies, '20 - PAR Systems

·         Jeff Rodgers, '07 - Concord USA

·         Elena Youngdale, '20 - TCC Materials

Refreshments at 3 PM. 

9/20/2023

Physics and Astronomy Seminar: Nonthermal plasma synthesis of photonic silicon nanocrystals

Professor Uwe Korsthagen, University of Minnesota, Distinguished McKnight University Professor and Ronald L. and Janet A. Christenson Chair in Renewable Energy, Mechanical Engineering is presenting.

Chemically reactive nonthermal plasmas at low pressure are an interesting medium for the growth of nanocrystals. Molecular precursors are dissociated by electron impact reactions and the resulting molecular fragments and radicals, many of them charged, nucleate to form clusters and nanocrystals. Energetic surface reactions heat these initial clusters to temperatures that exceed the gas temperature by hundreds of Kelvin. This enables plasmas to form crystalline nanoparticles even of materials with very high melting points.

In this presentation, we will discuss the plasma synthesis of silicon quantum dots with diameters on the order of ~3 nm for luminescent applications as well as the synthesis of larger silicon nanocrystals, 60-200 nm in diameter, that show interesting scattering behaviors.

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

9/13/2023

Physics and Astronomy Seminar: Summer Research Report Backs

Summer researchers presenting:

Camellia Schwartzman, "Synthesizing Nanowires from both Top-down and Bottom-up Approaches"
Lila Schisgal, "Low Mass Galaxies NGC5238 and DDO68"
Cain Rinkoski, "Galactic Magnetic Fields: Studying NGC4490/85"
Justin Potts, "Optimizing Strain Characterization of Graphene Using Raman Spectroscopy"
Rohan Lichtenberg, "Electro-optical Detection of Plasma Generated Terahertz-Radiation"

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

4/26/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend their final senior capstone presentations of the spring semester:

  • Ezra Wolf: "Tools for Refining the Baryonic Tuller-Fisher Relation"
  • Dengyu (Spud) Tu: "From Experiment to Theory: Time-Resolved Photoconductivity Measurements and 3D Approximation Methods to Investigate the Effect of Pump Beam Size on Photovoltaic Material Behavior"

All are welcome! 

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

4/19/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

  • Chloe Zheng: "Development of a Particle-in-Cell/Monte Carlo Simulation for Weakly Ionized Plasmas."

All are welcome!

4/14/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

  • David Geeganage: "Using Models of Cloud Formation to Address the RH Effect in Low Cost PM Sensors."

All are welcome!

4/12/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

  • Ross Ferguson: "Trinification with a Bi-Adjoint Higgs Field."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

4/5/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

  • Jackson Codd: "Extension of the LUX-ZEPLIN NR Background to 600 phd for Dark Matter Detection."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

3/29/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

  • Haoxuan Sun  "Machine Learning Refinements to Metallicity-Dependent Isotopic Abundance."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

3/22/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend their senior capstone presentations:

Ezra Kline ► "Tools for Refining the Baryonic Tuller-Fisher Relation;"

Josh Marine ► "Deriving Stellar Mass Values for 82 SHIELD Galaxies using the

Spitzer Space Telescope."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

3/8/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

Margaret Shepherd ► " SHIELD Galaxies with Offset Neutral Gas Distributions."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

3/1/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Honors Thesis Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend a senior honors thesis presentation:

Temazulu Zulu ► "SARS-CoV-2 Quantum Sensor Using NV Centers in Nanodiamonds."

All are welcome!

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

2/24/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend the senior capstone presentations:

  • Ross Relic: "Measuring the Pulse Length of a Femtosecond Laser Using Intensity Autocorrelation;"
  • Lance Bartol: "Effectiveness of Different Materials as Catalysts for Alkaline Water Electrolysis."

All are welcome! 

Refreshments at 3 p.m. near the pendulum.

2/15/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend their senior capstone presentations:

  • Erin Leary: "The Future of Solar Energy: Perovskite Solar Cell Fabrication;"
  • Bill Chen: "Adding Classical Novae abundance contribution to the Elemental Scaling Model."


All are welcome! 

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

2/8/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentation

The Physics & Astronomy Department invites you to attend this week's senior capstone presentation: 

  • Jon Kazor: "Solar Radio Bursts--Deployable Low-band Ionosphere and  Transients Experiment (DLITE) Arrays."

Refreshments at 3 p.m.

2/1/2023

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics and Astronomy Department invites you to attend the first of the senior capstone presentations during spring semester: 

  • Paige Stevenson ► "Machine Learning Methods for Predicting 2D Material Properties;"
  • Karlee Taylor ► "Hydrosphere: Modeling the Planetary Structure of Ocean Planets and Icy Moons."
All are welcome! 


Refreshments at 3 PM.

12/8/2022

Observatory Public Night—Last of Semester

Hi, it's been a while since we've hosted an Observatory Public Night! But we're doing one last open night before the end of the semester and finals week.

Come by Thursday, December 8th 7-10 pm. We'll be in Olin Rice 404 as usual, which you can reach through the Southwest stairwell and elevator.

Be sure to dress warmly! See the observatory on the roof of Olin Rice and hear about astronomy and physics on campus. We hope to see you there!

12/7/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "Power in Numbers: Developing Pooled Screening Tools to Study Drug Delivery"

Natalie Boehnke, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, University of Minnesota, will speak about "Power in Numbers: Developing Pooled Screening Tools to Study Drug Delivery." 

Prof. Natalie Boehnke received her B.S. in chemistry from Purdue University in 2012.  Natalie then obtained her Ph.D. in organic and polymer chemistry from UCLA in 2017, working with Prof. Heather Maynard on the synthesis and characterization of biodegradable hydrogels and nanogels. After graduation, Natalie joined Prof. Paula Hammond’s group at MIT to develop toolsets to integrate biology and engineering approaches for accelerated translation of self-assembled nanomaterials. Natalie has received a Department of Defense Horizon Award and NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award for her work. She joined the faculty at the University of Minnesota in summer 2022, where her group uses high throughput screening and machine learning to understand how biological heterogeneity affects nanoparticle delivery and efficacy.

Refreshments at 3 PM.

12/1/2022

Discovering the Mysteries of the Universe-Summer Research Ops for Physics & Astronomy Students

Interested in doing physics and astronomy research in summer 2023? Join us to learn about both on-campus and off-campus summer research opportunities.  We will discuss what options are available and the application procedures.

Find your ideal research project!

Pizza provided.  

11/30/2022

Physics & Astronomy Senior Capstone Presentations

The Physics and Astronomy Department invites you to attend senior capstone presentations: 


  • Aurora Hiveley ► "Mapping the Tesseral Field of Saturn"

    • Ryan Davies ► "A High-speed Portable Ground Heat Exchanger Model for use in Framework Development"

    • All are welcome! 

      Refreshments at 3 PM. 

11/16/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: Physics Alumni Panel

Four Physics & Astronomy alums will give an overview of their career paths since leaving Macalester and answer your questions about their choices.

William Setterberg, Mac 2020

Sarah Taft, Mac 2019

Dauda Mawanda, Mac 2006

Fitih Mohammed, Mac 2003

11/9/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "Practical Quantum Advantage in Sensing"

Paola Cappellaro, Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, Quantum Engineering Group, will speak about "Practical Quantum Advantage in Sensing." 

"Quantum sensors exploit the strong sensitivity of quantum systems to external disturbances to measure various signals in their environment with high precision. Nitrogen Vacancy color centers in diamond have in particular emerged as exquisite probes of magnetic fields. These quantum sensors have the potential to be a revolutionary tool in material science, quantum information processing, and bioimaging. For example, they could be used to image single molecules, thus performing MRI at the nanoscale. However, the same strong coupling to the environment also limits their sensitivity due to its decohering effects. Error correction strategies, including  dynamical decoupling, can help in fighting decoherence, but they incur the risk of also canceling the coupling to the signal to be measured.

"Here I will show recent advances in tackling this challenge, including exploiting and improving control and the use of ancillary systems, that achieve an advantageous compromise between noise and signal cancellation. These strategies can not only improve the sensitivity of quantum sensors, but also yield new applications, via the transduction of biological signals of interest into quantum perturbations or the frequency up/down-conversion of signals of interest."

Refreshments at 3 PM. 

11/7/2022

Public Observatory Night

Come visit the Macalester Observatory tonight! 7-10 pm in Olin Rice 404, through the Southwest stairs.

It'll probably be cloudy, but it might clear up around 9:00 but you're still welcome to come by, hear about the observatory and astronomy on campus, and have a good time.

Hope to see you there!

10/31/2022

Halloween Public Observatory

Come by Olin Rice 404, through the Southwest stairs, 7:00 - 10:00 pm.

Right now, it's expected that there will be clear skies. Jupiter and Saturn will be visible again, and Mars might be sen low in the eastern sky. See the telescope and the astrolab and learn about physics and astronomy at Macalester.

We hope to see you there!

10/27/2022

Public Observatory Night

Hi, we're hosting another public observatory night tonight. Unfortunately, it looks like it'll be cloudy. You're still welcome to come by, get a tour of the astronomy lab, the observatory, and the function of the telescope. Find us in Olin Rice 404, through the Southwest stairwell and elevator, 7-10pm.

We hope to see you there, anyway!

10/26/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "JWST and Me: An Early View of JWST Science"

Professor Evan Skillman, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, University of Minnesota, will share his experiences about "JWST and Me: An Early View of JWST Science."

The James Webb Space Telescope has been successfully launched and commissioned, and science observing started this past summer.  I will provide a very personal view of my experiences so far.  I am a member of one of 13 Early Release Science programs, which were prioritized in the first months of the telescope's operations.  I will highlight that program and give an insider's view of what has been happening. I will also be happy to answer questions about the JWST and its science mission, to the best of my ability.

10/17/2022

Public Observatory Night

Hello again! There is a Public Observatory Night tonight, 7-10 pm.

Olin Rice 404, reachable through the Southwest stairwell and elevator. Current prediction is clear skies for this entire session again!

Come by to hear about physics and astronomy and look through the telescope. We hope to see you there!

10/12/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: Summer Research Report Backs

Summer Researchers presenting:

Uditi Chandrashekhar, "The Hodgkin-Huxley Model of Neuron Action Potentials;"

Ally Hurd, "Measuring Charge Lifetimes in Organic Solar Cells;"

Seth Buesing, "Trinification Symmetry Breaking with a Bi-Adjoint Higgs Field35;"

Sylvia Greene, "The dark matter search with XenonnT: Impurity measurements in liquid Xenon (IMix);"

Siri Erickson-Green, "Investigation of Tantalum Lead Borate Glass using LITOF-MS."

Refreshments at 3 PM. 

10/10/2022

Public Observatory Night

Hi all,

Maybe you're used to seeing this pop up, but we've got clear skies, a full moon, and a visible Jupiter and Saturn tonight.

Come by Olin Rice 404, reachable through the Southwest stairwell and elevator (by the Geese). We'll be open 7-10pm to tell you about Physics and Astronomy and show you the telescope and dome.

10/6/2022

Astronomy Observatory Public Night

Hi all, if you've come already, thank you! We said a few times that we intended to be open nearly weekly and that we would move the day of the week around in order to meet the demands of more guests.

So, this week, we're open on Thursday! Unfortunately, we've been experiencing fall temperatures and now we are beginning to experience fall skies. That means this week is cloudy. Clouds are hard to predict three and a half days from now, but current expectation is spotty cloudy at best.

Regardless, we'll be up in Olin Rice 404 from 7-10pm to talk about physics and astronomy, space, and our observatory on campus. Reach 404 through the Southwest stairwell.

We hope to see you there!

10/5/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "How Do Galaxies Control Their Growth?"

Jay Gallagher, Distinguished Visiting Professor, Macalester College and Emeritus Professor of Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will speak about "How Do Galaxies Control Their Growth?"

The visible components of galaxies grow as star formation converts gas into stars and a small percentage into black holes. In turn stars and central massive black holes feed mechanical energy into interstellar gas and the surroundings of galaxies thereby modifying conditions for future star formation. These galactic feedback processes, which also are affected by gas inflows, can control evolutionary rates in galaxies and therefore are central to the cycling of baryons through cosmic systems. This talk will review the observational evidence for the important role of feedback in the evolution of stellar bodies of galaxies and discuss why proper observational characterization of galaxy feedback remains an astrophysical challenge.

Refreshments at 3:00 PM

9/29/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: Mining Data (& REU Opportunities) in Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy Majors & Minors: Please join us for an informal session led by Dr. Ralf Kotulla (Research Scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison) and our very own Dr. Jay Gallagher (Distinguished Visiting Professor). Dr. Ralf Kotulla is a Scientist in Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on data mining and analysis to address major problems in astrophysics ranging from stellar variability to galaxy evolution. He manages the Wisconsin NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer program. During the Thursday lunch Dr. Kotulla will discuss applying to REU programs and present some informal perspectives on data-intensive astronomy.

Pizza provided. 

9/28/2022

Joint Chemistry/Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "So Much Water in the Atmosphere"

Professor Joseph S. Francisco, University of Pennsylvania and 2022-23 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, Macalester College," will present "So Much Water in the Atmosphere."

Professor Joseph S. Francisco is Macalester College's Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for 2022-23.  He is currently the President's Distinguished Professor and Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania.   His research laboratory uses laser spectroscopy and computation to study the properties and chemical reactions of unusual short-lived species in the earth's atmosphere.  His laboratory focuses on chemical reactivity both in the gas phase and at air-water interfaces.  For decades, Professor Francisco has been a leader in atmospheric chemistry research.  His scientific accomplishments were recognized by his election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.  He has also been a leader in the broader scientific community, serving as President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers from 2005 to 2007 and as President of the American Chemical Society in 2010.  

9/19/2022

Astronomy Observatory Public Night

Join the Physics and Astronomy department in welcoming back Public Observatory Nights!

Learn about the physics and astronomy program here at Mac, learn about the astronomy lab and observatory, and (weather permitting!) take a look through the eyepiece of our 16 inch reflecting telescope!

Olin Rice 404 can be reached through the southwest stairwell and elevator.

9/16/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "Quantum Coherence at Space-Frequency Limit"

Professor Jigang Wang, Department of Physics & Astronomy, Iowa State University and the Ames National Laboratory-U.S. DOE, will speak about "Quantum Coherence at Space-Frequency Limit."

The challenge of pushing the switching speed-limit and integration density of today’s logic and memory devices into the terahertz (THz, 1012 hertz) and sub-20 nanometer regime underlies the entire field of information processing, recording, storage and communication. We approach this challenge via developing an Extreme Quantum Terahertz nanoscope that operate at temperatures down to liquid helium temperature and high magnetic fields. The simultaneous space, energy and time visualization under these extreme conditions breaks new ground for coherent control of quantum matter.

9/7/2022

Physics & Astronomy Seminar: "A Random Walk into Optical Signal Processing & Integrated Optofluidic Devices"

Professor Marty Baylor, Carleton College will present "A Random Walk into Optical Signal Processing & Integrated Optofluidic Devices."

"Light not only has the power to help us learn about the physical world, but it can also help us solve problems that are hard to solve in other ways. I fell into optics through what felt like a winding path to me. As I share about my path from my childhood dreams of being a paleontologist to my current work using photopolymers for integrated optofluidic devices, I will periodically pause to describe the varied optics work I have done along the way at Kenyon College, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and CU Boulder. During this talk, I invite the audience to consider the role of power and privilege in helping me arrive at where I am today.