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Physics Graduate Community (PGC)

Mission Statement

The Physics Graduate Community (PGC) was founded by UF physics students to facilitate the building of community and a robust peer-to-peer resource network for graduate students within the physics department.

Our goal is to improve the professional and social development of the graduate student community through frequent interactions including seminars, panels, presentations, and the sharing of snacks and meals. We regularly host events within the department that are designed to help our peers through all aspects of their careers.

Arriving in Gainesville for the first time, help with homework and exams, choosing courses, preparing for a conference or talk, writing a paper or dissertation, finding housing, and accessing key campus resources such as health and wellness services. These are challenges common to all physics graduate students. Our program is designed to help you through these challenges by leveraging the knowledge and experience of your fellow classmates.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the mentors listed below. We look forward to hearing from you!

Current Organizers:

Davis Chen

Davis Chen, Director
Office: B51
Email: dclover23@ufl.edu
Advisor: Dominique Laroche

Research Interests: Davis is working on fabricating and probing the magnetotransport properties of SiGe bilayer devices at low temperature and high magnetic field.

Bio: Although Davis was born in Ohio, he pretty much grew up in FL. He enjoys going to music events, being active, playing board/video games, drinking coffee and trying new things. He also likes traveling, experiencing new cultures and going on trips. Recently, he has been obsessed with rock climbing.


Rebika Makaju

Rebika Makaju

Office: 2110
Email: rmakaju@ufl.edu
Advisor: Dominique Laroche

Research Interests: Condensed Matter Experiment. I am currently working on Coulomb Drag experiments on GaAs/AlGaAs quantum wires. The main motivation for this experiment is to understand and quantify electron – electron interactions in the Luttinger Liquid regime and have a better understanding of these interactions in one-dimension where there is negligible tunneling. A potential application could be to harness these strong interactions to make zero magnetic field topological superconductors, which could be helpful in making stable qubits for quantum computing.

Bio: I am originally from Nepal. Besides doing Physics, I enjoy reading fiction (mostly sci-fi), gardening, cooking food(especially momo), watching NBA and biking around campus. I am a huge lover of doggos!!


David Sadek

David Sadek

Office: 2126
Email: david.sadek@ufl.edu
Advisor: Tarek Saab

Research Interests: I work with Dr. Tarek Saab on dark matter direct detection experiment with the SuperCDMS collaboration.

Bio: I love playing soccer and long distance running.


Mayra Silva

Mayra Silva

Office: 1228
Email: mayrasilva@ufl.edu
Advisor: Philip Chang

Research Interests: During my undergraduate studies, I became fascinated with particle physics research when I worked on increasing the performance of the particle identification for water Cherenkov detectors for cosmic air showers. Now, I am hoping to apply new machine learning algorithms to the CMS experiment.

Bio: I am from Guatemala City, Guatemala and I moved to Florida in 2022 to join the UF Physics PhD program. Besides physics, I really enjoy spending my time being involved in different activities from my local church, playing board games, trying out new foods, working out and playing sports.


Pranav Satheesh

Pranav Satheesh

Office: 2081
Email: pranavsatheesh@ufl.edu
Advisor: Laura Blecha

Research Interests: My research is in astrophysics of gravitational wave sources, particularly massive and supermassive black holes. These form low-frequency gravitational waves that could be detected in future missions like LISA and pulsar timing arrays. I use cosmological simulations as a tool to study inspiralling massive black hole binaries and galaxy co-evolution.

Bio: I grew up in the beautiful state of Kerala in south India. I went to undergrad at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai. Physics and math were my favorite subjects growing up and doing physics in undergrad only amplified my desire to pursue research. I got attracted to astrophysics following the joint detection of gravitational and electromagnetic waves from a binary neutron star merger by LIGO and Virgo. Apart from research, I am also very interested in science communication. In my free time, I love drawing on paper as well as digital art. I watch a lot of movies and play board games with my friends. I also enjoy cooking and I’m getting better at it.


Raed Diab

Raed Diab, GSPS Coordinator

Office: 1125
Email: raed.diab@ufl.edu
Advisor: Paul Fulda

Research Interests: I have always been interested in astrophysics. Right now I’m working on LIGO optics studying a new method to actively control the big interferometer.

Bio: I grew up in a small town in Palestine, where I got my bachelor’s degree in physics. I moved to the US right after that. I like music, soccer, and video games. Getting more into trails and hikes these days.


Matthew Dittrich

Matthew Dittrich

Office: 2032
Email: matthew.dittrich@ufl.edu
Advisor: Philip Chang

Research Interests: I am interested in studying the building blocks of matter and their fundamental forces. Specifically, I am a member of the CMS collaboration at CERN, and I am using Run3 data to analyze mutiboson (WWZ) signatures.

Bio: I grew up in Atlanta, GA. I then moved to Charleston, SC where I did my undergrad at The Citadel, and I was fortunate enough to meet my wife. I enjoy weight-lifting, reading, and playing basketball.


Alex Hipp

Alex Hipp

Office: B172
Email: ahipp@ufl.edu
Advisor: David B. Tanner

Research Interests: My primary interest is in the nature of dark matter. I subscribe to the axion theory and my work is in axion detection. I’m a part of the ADMX collaboration and perform data analysis and prototyping.

Bio: I was born and raised in Wisconsin. Growing up there, I’m very fond of the cold with winter being my favorite season. During my free time I enjoy playing video games, reading, and playing disc golf.


Don George

Don George, Photographer (2020-2024)

Office: 1127
Email: daniel.george@ufl.edu
Advisor: Guido Mueller

Research Interests:  LISA aims to overcome the seismic noise wall that LIGO experiences by being a space-based gravitational-wave detector. Don is working on characterizing spurious signals that manifest as artificial gravitational-waves that emerge from angular jitter of the three spacecrafts. One of the main components of the three spacecrafts is the telescope that sends and receives light between spacecrafts. He is also working with the LISA group to build optical setups that will test stability requirements.

Bio: After being born in Kerala, India, Don moved to Qatar when he was 3 years old. After learning about the states of matter and microbes in middle school, he thought English literature was a far more interesting subject. Things changed in high school where he had an amazing physics teacher that changed everything. After coming to Gainesville, he likes to travel whenever possible, play the guitar, and take pictures. He still thinks about the shawarmas he had in Doha.

Other Organizers:

Sagar Gupta/Christos Litos/Dylan Tagrin



Retired Organizers

Brooke Emison

Brooke Emison, Co-Vice Director (2022-2023)

Email: bemison@ufl.edu
Advisor: Purushottam Dixit

Research Interests: My research is in computational biophysics and I work with Purushottom Dixit. Me and Mayar are in the same group and actually share an office.

Bio: I am a Floridan by trade and absolutely love the beach. I did my undergrad in Florida as well (go knights!). My hobbies include watching TV, playing video games, reading books (my highest recommendation is the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson), crocheting, and rock climbing. I also love playing soccer and if you’re interested please reach out and we can try and get a game going.

Antonios Kyriazis

Antonios Kyriazis, Columnist (2021-2023)

Email: akyriazis@ufl.edu
Advisor: Pierre Sikivie

Research Interests: My main interests are in axion dark matter and I am currently working with prof. Pierre Sikivie.

Bio: I was born and raised in a small town somewhere in northern Greece. I did my undergrad studies in Greece and moved to Gainesville to pursue a PhD in particle physics. I am also co-chair of GAU’s organizing committee. My hobbies include reading, politics and these days I am trying to learn some Spanish.

Andrew Goetz

Andrew Goetz, GSPS Coordinator (2022-2023)

Email: agoetz@ufl.edu
Advisor: Purushottam Dixit

Research Interests: My research interests involve bringing tools from physics, chemistry, and programming to explore biological systems in novel ways. Specific topics of interest to me are information theory, linear algebra, cell signaling, metabolomics, and high-performance computing.

Bio: I spent my childhood in northern Kentucky and have fond memories of watching the leaves change colors, snow days, and exploring the hills and forests near my home. While I miss the snow and the colorful leaves, there is more than enough scenery in Florida to explore and love. My hobbies involve walking, running, and generally exploring Gainesville by foot. A guilty pleasure of mine is gaming, the hours fly by all too fast when you are playing a good game with friends.

Jake RosenzweigJake Rosenzweig, Director (2020-2022)

Email: rosedj1@ufl.edu
Advisor: Andrey Korytov

Research Interests:   Jake is performing a precision measurement of the Higgs boson mass using 2016-2018 (Run2) data collected from the CMS detector and looking for evidence of new particles which may be produced through exotic Higgs boson decays.

Bio: Jake grew up in Jacksonville, FL, earned a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UF in 2011, and joined the UF physics graduate program in 2016. Fun fact: he met his wife, Suzanne, in Prof. Sikivie’s quantum mechanics class – talk about romantic! Jake is grateful to “pay it forward” by helping organize the PGC. Jake enjoys adages, exercise, programming, board games with friends, and hiking on Coloradan mountains.

Mayar ShahinMayar Shahin, Vice Director (2021-2022); Director (2022-2023)

Office: 2232 NPB
Email: mayar.shahin@ufl.edu
Advisor: Purushottam Dixit

Research Interests: Biophysics. I have been working on dynamical microbiome data analysis. I am particularly interested in dimensionality reduction techniques and their use on biological data.

Bio: I like putting things together; wooden and jigsaw puzzles. I like cooking and going on long walks. Adjusting to the move from Cairo, Egypt to Gainesville, Fl.

Hoda AklHoda Akl, Treasurer (2021-2022)

Office: 2232 NPB
Email: hodaakl@ufl.edu
Advisor: Purushottam Dixit

Research Interests: There are many ways in which one can use physics to think about biological problems. If we look at the cellular system we can imagine that there are many parameters that determine its behaviour, and if we examine real data we will find that this “determination” is not fully deterministic, but probabilistic. I am currently interested in figuring out the underlying distribution of those parameters that are relevant to a certain biological signalling model pathway. I am also interested in machine learning and information theoretic application to biological problems.

Bio: Hoda grew up in a home where you, if you were willing to pay attention, could see the Egyptian pyramids through the window. She had a good time there before deciding to join graduate school for even more physics. Some of her interests outside of physics are reading, writing and organizing which when taken to an extreme, is a little counter-productive. Hoda tries hard to not become a robot during her time doing physics Ph.D. and to help with that she likes to engage and relate with other students and learn from their valuable experiences.

Alex Schachtner

Alexander Schachtner, Founding Member

Research Interests: Novel light emitting-transistor technology, carbon nanotube thin film deposition, image and micrograph statistical analysis.

Bio: Alexander came to study physics at UF after completing the 2014 Materials Physics REU Program. Alexander is a co-founder of PGC and is passionate about improving the community for all of his colleagues. Alexander graduated in August of 2021 and the title of his doctoral dissertation is “Directed Drying and De-suspension of Single Wall Carbon Nanotube Thin Films for OLED Applications.”

Suzanne RosenzweigSuzanne Rosenzweig, Founding Member

Research Interests: Searching for new physics signatures within the scalar sector of the standard model in a kinematically-rich final state comprising a high multiplicity of b jets. The search will be performed on proton-proton collision data collected by the CMS experiment during the LHC’s Run 2 period.

Bio: Suzanne transferred to UF at the beginning of her junior year of undergraduate and enrolled in the graduate program in 2017. She has a diverse background in physics, with work experience in a biophysics experiment lab, a condensed matter experiment lab, and a high energy experiment group. She enjoys reading, hiking, and playing the piano.

Sanjib KatuwalSanjib Katuwal, Founding Member

Research Interests: Quantum Gravity and Cosmology.

Bio: Sanjib is originally from Nepal and came to US with his wife Rojina in 2017 to join UF as a physics graduate student. Beside physics, he enjoys reading philosophy and literature. He spends most of his free time pondering about the nature of human suffering and bondage.


1-on-1 Mentors:

Shubhagata Bhaumik
Analis Evans
Don George
Mayra Silva
Yining You

Ioannis Michaloliakos
Pawan Prakash
Moinul Hossain Rahat
Jake Rosenzweig
Alex Tucker
Yining You

Sanjib Katuwal
Soham Kulkarni
Ioannis Michaloliakos
Taylor Miller
Moinul Hossain Rahat
Alex Roman
Jake Rosenzweig
Suzanne Rosenzweig
Mayar Shahin
Ambika Shakya
Yining You

GSPS Seminar Organizers:

Astrophysics: Don Georga & Shubhagata Bhaumik
Biophysics: Mayar Shahin & Michael Chung & Andrew Goetz
Condensed Matter: Davis Chen & Ammar Jahin
High Energy: Yining You & Alex Roman

Fall 2022: Don Georga & Shubhagata Bhaumik
Spring 2023: Raed Diab & Sourath Ghosh
Biophysics: Michael Chung, Andrew Goetz & Karthik Srinivasan
Condensed Matter: Ammar Jahin & Soumitra Ganguly
High Energy: Alex Roman, Karthik Srinivasan & Roy Forestano

Astrophysics: Sourath Ghosh & Jesse Kelley-Derzon
Biophysics: Jiawei Dong
Condensed Matter: Soumitra Ganguly & Ananth Kandala
High Energy: Roy Forestano & Boran Yesilyurt