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Local Organizing Committee

Hana Dobrovolny [co-chair, TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

Hana Dobrovolny is an Associate Professor at TCU. Her research focus is mathematical modeling of biological systems, primarily using models to understand infectious diseases and cancer. She received her B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Winnipeg, followed by an M.A. in physics at Bryn Mawr College. She finished her formal studies with a Ph.D in physics from Duke University. Before coming to TCU, she held a postdoctoral position at Ryerson University. When she’s not at work, she’s running after a rambunctious two-year-old and brain-washing a fourteen-year-old to also become a physicist. If there’s any time left after that, you can find her reading, playing piano, or ice skating.

Anton Naumov (co-chair, TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

Dr. Anton Naumov received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he started nanotechnology research separating chiral carbon nanotubes. He received his M.S. and Ph.D in Applied Physics from Rice University studying optical properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene. After his Ph.D., Dr. Naumov joined Ensysce Biosciences Inc. as a Research Scientist developing nanomaterials-assisted cancer therapeutics. Later on, he joined Central Connecticut State University as an Assistant Professor. In 2015, Dr. Naumov joined TCU as an Assistant Professor and in 2018 also the Burnett School of Medicine, continuing his bio-nanotechnology research focusing on nanomaterials that perform drug delivery, imaging, and diagnostics. In 2021, Dr. Naumov was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor at TCU.

Kat Barger (TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

Kat Barger is a teacher, mentor, and scientist at TCU. Her research focuses on the gas cycle of galaxies to track the material that they use to form stars and planets. Currently, she is leading a large Hubble Space Telescope Legacy Archive project to investigate a supernovae explosion driven galactic wind that is expelling 10-million times the mass of our Sun’s worth of gas out of the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. Outside of work, Dr. Kat spends her time playing the piano, gardening, and scuba diving.

Raymond Benge [TCC, Physics]

Raymond Benge is an Associate Professor at Tarrant County College. He is a native Texan, born in Houston and grew up during the height of the Apollo missions to the Moon, giving him a lifelong interest in space. After getting a BS in physics from Duke University, he came back to Texas for his graduate degree at Texas A&M University. He did an undergraduate internship in molecular biophysics, master’s degree in cryophysics, and then returned to his passion of astronomy. His research interests are interacting binary stars. He has also published a number of papers and encyclopedia articles on the history of science and space exploration. He holds the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching at Tarrant County College.

Ryan Rich (TWU, Physics & Chemistry)

Ryan Rich is an Associate Professor at Texas Wesleyan University where he teaches a variety of physics and astronomy courses for students at all levels of education. His primary research interests are in the area of biophysics and especially time-correlated, single molecule fluorescence microscopy. Specifically, he is interested in extremely sensitive detection of low-abundance biomolecules and the effects of disease on cell motility. When not at the University, he enjoys home improvement projects and playing with his children.

Elizabeth Sizemore (TCU physics alumnus)

Elizabeth Campbell completed her PhD in Biophysics at TCU in June 2021. The focus of her research was to enhance the imaging, sensing, and delivery capabilities for cancer therapeutics. She continued at TCU for an additional year to complete her MBA and is currently working at a consulting company in Dallas. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, travelling (safely), and exploring local restaurants.

Emma Kitchner [TCU, Physics & Astronomy]

Emma Kitchner is a 4th year physics graduate student at TCU. She earned her Master’s degree in December 2021. Emma’s research is in fluorescent spectroscopy where she spends a lot fo time collaborating with many disciplines across the sciences (Forensics, Chemistry, Geology, etc.) When she is not in the lab, you will find her in the gym, or trying various local breweries with friends.

Natalie Myers (TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

Natalie is a third year astronomy graduate student at TCU, and will be defending a Masters degree in the fall before continuing to a PhD.  Her research utilizes star clusters, which are groups of stars that were all born from the same gas cloud and thus all have the same age, chemistry, and velocity, to study the evolution of the Milky Way. When not at work, Natalie can be found either doing something crafty or playing video games with friends.

Baylor Fain (TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

Baylor Fain is a biophysics graduate student at TCU. He earned his B.S. in physics from Tarleton State University. His favorite topics to study are parallel processing, high performance computing, probability theory, and dynamical systems. In his free time he enjoys baking vegan treats, going for walks with his wife and two puppies, and serving a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.

Sachi Weerasooriya (TCU, Physics & Astronomy)

I came to the US in 2014 to pursue higher studies in the US. I earned my bachelors degree with a double major in Physics/Mathematics in 2018 from Midwestern State University and my masters in Physics from TCU with a concentration in Astrophysics in 2020. Now, I am a 5th year graduate student studying computational Astrophysics at TCU.

Alina Valimukhametova, Texas Christian University

I am a PhD candidate at Texas Christian University, having received my B.S. and M.S. in Physics from Kazan Federal University, Russia. My primary research lies in the application of carbon based materials including graphene oxide, graphene quantum dots, and carbon nanotubes in drug delivery, biological imaging, and sensing. Currently, I am the author/co-author of ten publications in this field.

Hope Sage (TCU, Biophysics)

Hope Sage is a junior Biophysics major and Mathematics and Chemistry minor at TCU from Houston, TX. She is a member of the Society of Physics Students and is currently working on a density-dependent infection rate model for infectious diseases under Dr. Hana Dobrovolny at TCU. Past projects include applications of the Fourier transform to characterize porous bone structures and 3D bioprinting a bionic pancreas during her REU experiences. She is passionate about using science to improve people’s lives. Hope loves the outdoors, writing, and endurance sports.

Katelyn Shelton (TCU, Astronomy)

I am a junior Astrophysics major and Mathematics minor at TCU. I am also both a member of the Society of Physics and the Computer Science Feminist organization on campus. I am currently conducting research under Dr.Bovill (TCU, Astrophysics) to understand star formation within the earliest fossils of first galaxies. In our research, we look for the mass cutoff required for a galaxy to accrete gas reionization and look at the star formations. In the future, I plan to attend graduate school and enter in the Air Force Reserve. In my free time, I enjoy reading novels and watching every possible Marvel series/movie.

Lauren Sdun (TCU, Astronomy)

Lauren Sdun is a junior Physics and Astronomy major at Texas Christian University. She is a member of the Society of Physics Students, as well as a tutor in the Physics Tutoring Center. She is currently conducting research with Dr. Kat Barger at TCU, working on a project investigating a galactic wind expelled by the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading a variety of different genres, working out, and spending time outdoors and with friends.

Melina Kopischkie (TCU, Biophysics)

Melina Kopischkie is a Junior Biophysics major at TCU and a member of the Society of Physics Students. Her interest in physics includes nuclear power and renewable energy. Outside of school and work, she enjoys running, travelling, and trying out new coffee shops.


  • Catherine May (Community member)