Speaker Bios

Plenary speakers:

ReneeHorton Dr. K. Renee Horton currently works for NASA Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans, LA as the lead Space Launch System (SLS) Core Stage Metallic and Weld Engineer. She holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science with a concentration in Physics from the University of Alabama and Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Louisiana State University. Renee Horton was the first African American to receive her degree in Material Science from the University of Alabama in 2011.

MarchettiCristina Marchetti, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Physics at Syracuse University, was educated in Italy at the University of Pavia, earned her Ph.D. in the U.S. at the University of Florida, and joined the faculty at Syracuse University in 1987. She was awarded her present, endowed chair in 2005. Marchetti is a versatile theoretical physicist who has worked on a broad range of problems including supercooled fluids, glasses and superconductors. Currently, she is interested in understanding the emergent behavior of soft and biological materials, from vibrating grains of sand to cell motion in living tissues. She has held elected positions in the American Physical Society, and she continues to play a leadership role in the scientific community.

DSC_8885-EditRhonda Peters James currently serves as Senior Program & Engagement Marketing Manager of External Relations for Intel Corporation. In this role, she manages the overall strategic direction and tactical execution of the Stay With It™ Inspired by Intel Program. Stay With It is an online community that delivers engaging content about engineering in the workplace, academic resources, internship information, and encouragement to engineering students so that they will stay enrolled in their engineering majors and graduate. In addition, Rhonda is the engagement account manager for various external organizations where she partners with them to deliver impactful efforts designed to increase the number of underrepresented minorities graduating with engineering and other STEM degrees in the United States.

A 14-year Intel veteran, Rhonda has held various positions in engineering, marketing research and competitive intelligence, community management, and product marketing at the company. Rhonda has over 5 years of experience in similar positions in the semiconductor industry where she held team lead positions in process engineering and program management. Rhonda holds a Bachelor’s in Physics from Dillard University, Master’s in Electrical Engineering (Semiconductor Devices) from the University of Missouri at Columbia, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Arizona State University. She serves as a mentor to several high school girls and women in engineering both at Intel and other companies, and is an active volunteer in several local organizations.

Keynote speaker:

Kerrick-GingerGinger Kerrick, as a child, dreamed of growing up to be either a basketball player or an astronaut. When neither dream came to fruition, Ms. Kerrick developed a fresh perspective – best summed up by the phrase “It just wasn’t meant to be” – and is today part of NASA, serving in the Mission Control Center at the NASA Johnson Space Center as a Flight Director who has, to date, supported 13 International Space Station and five joint shuttle missions. It was there that Ms. Kerrick, a few years earlier, became the first non-astronaut Capsule Communicator (CapCom), the Flight Control position that relays information from Mission Control to an astronaut crew. Through her service in Mission Control, Ms. Kerrick shares in the experience of space travel; and while she may not be an astronaut, because of her support “each astronaut [is] taking a little piece of [her] with them.” But, it was only through hard work and perseverance that Ms. Kerrick arrived at this place, because to earn both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in physics she first had to win academic scholarships. For Ms. Kerrick, life is an adventure and a fulfillment of her childhood dreams best summed up in her own words: “I have no idea what is next for me, but I trust I will find myself exactly where I am supposed to be!”

Panelist and workshop leaders:

Kawtar Hafidi 31016D, Kawtar Hafidi portrait (PHY)Associate Chief Scientist for Laboratory Directed Research and Development, Argonne National Laboratory, trained APS negotiation workshop leader




A_Johnson_CUWIPAngela Johnson, Director of Teacher Education at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and  expert on intersectionality.





ELongElena Long is a Post Doctoral Researcher at the University of New Hampshire where she studies nucleon structure and nucleon-nucleon interactions with electron scattering from polarized targets. She’s also founder of LGBT+ Physicists, an executive member of the American Physical Society’s Committee on LGBT Issues (C-LGBT), the Post Doc Representative of the Jefferson Lab User’s Group, and the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for oSTEM.

LaToya Crayton received her B.S. in Physics from Syracuse University in 2006. Upon graduation she spent a year working as a Research Assistant in Houston, Texas at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in the Experimental Diagnostic Imaging & Nuclear Medicine departments, working on a clinical trial for leptomeningeal disease. She went on to obtain her M.S. in Medical Physics from Duke University in 2009, where she completed her thesis on the analysis of patient positioning errors in head and neck image guided radiation therapy (IGRT). She began her career working as a Junior Medical Physicist for USMD Cancer Centers. Ms. Crayton obtained board certification in Therapeutic Radiologic Physics from the American Board of Radiology in 2013. She currently works as a Medical Physicist at USMD Cancer Center in Arlington, Texas.

KatherineFace Katherine Thomas Wright received her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, where she studied various thin film surface phenomena in polymer, soft matter, and biological systems. During her Ph.D., Katherine spent several months working at the ExxonMobil Chemical Company research labs in Texas, and was actively involved in writing and editing for the Cambridge University science magazine BlueSci, as well as blogging for the journal Soft Matter.  She went on to work as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen, Germany. In 2013, Katherine joined the staff of Physical Review Letters, and is now an Associate Editor. She joined Physics as a contributing editor in 2015.

IMG_1884Laura Nuttall is currently a Post Doctoral Researcher at Syracuse University where her research focusses on detecting compact binary coalescences with the LIGO gravitational wave detectors. She has been a member of LIGO for the past 6 years, having earned her PhD at Cardiff University and previously been a postdoc at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Brianna2014_cropBrianna Blaser is a counselor/coordinator at the DO-IT Center at the University of Washington, where she works to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in science and engineering. Brianna earned a bachelors degree in math and psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and a PhD in women studies from the University of Washington. Before joining DO-IT, she was the project director for the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Science Careers Outreach Program.

Marie Garland PortraitDr. Marie Garland is the Executive Director for the NSF-funded SU ADVANCE program, The Inclusive, Connective Corridor. Dr. Garland’s research is in the area of organizational communication, specifically in the interpersonal negotiation of identity that happens in and through workplace interactions.  Prior to coming to Syracuse University expressly to serve in the role of ED, Marie was the Director of Faculty and Staff Diversity at Cornell University, and was an Assistant Professor at Ithaca College where she taught courses on diversity in the workplace, research methods, and program management and evaluation.

Wanda PhotoWanda Padula is a teacher of academic and AP Physics at Liverpool HS.  She received her BS and MS from SUNY Oswego. Her   awards include: Chair of Science Teachers Association of NY, member of the National Science Teachers Association.


Linda Barton received her BS in physics from MIT, where she worked for several years at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Lab on optical properties of semiconductors in high fields. She completed her PhD in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with thesis work on critical phenomena of dilute ferromagnets. Following graduate school, she joined the research labs at Eastman Kodak, where she worked on development of magnetic materials for magnetic recording. After 8 years at Kodak, she took 6 years out of the workforce to raise children. In 1996 she joined the faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology in the School of Physics and Astronomy. At RIT, she has focused her teaching efforts on development of intensive upper level laboratory training for undergraduate physics majors, and implementation of senior capstone research for all physics majors. She maintains an experimental research effort in novel magnetic materials, staffed solely with undergraduates.