Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Los Alamos Distinguished Postdoc Fellows

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Meet the Lab's Current Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows

Los Alamos National Laboratory Distinguished Fellows (pdf)

Joshua Burby

Feynman Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
Theoretical Division: Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics (T-5)

Joshua Burby

Education: PhD in Plasma Physics – Princeton University; B.S. in Engineering Physics – Cornell University

Mentors: Xianzhu Tang and Luis Chacon

Research: Josh's research aims to efficiently model the intricate multiscale properties of plasmas using tools from dynamical systems theory and differential geometry. He focuses on developing broadly-applicable analytic and computational techniques for coping with the time- and space-scale separation associated with stiff plasma dynamics. Through his research, Josh recognized that phase-space-geometric objects known as slow manifolds appear and play a foundational role in a variety of reduced models for multiscale plasma behavior. Notably, he used this observation to explain how those models inherit Hamiltonian structure from more-complete descriptions of the plasma state. As he continues to explore the ramifications of slow manifolds in plasma physics, Josh is developing "slow manifold integrators" at LANL. These are simulation algorithms that use a system's slow manifold to solve the preconditioning problem inherent to implicit simulations of temporally-stiff systems.

Bio: Josh earned his PHD under the mentorship of Professor Hong Qin at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Being more of a mathematical physicist than a traditional theoretical physicist, Josh spent his first postdoc at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences as a DOE Fusion Energy Sciences (FES) Fellow. After leaving Courant and before coming to LANL, he joined the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) as a Viterbi Fellow during the program "Hamiltonian systems, from topology to applications through analysis."

Francesco Caravelli

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
Theoretical Division: Physics of Condensed Matter Complex Systems (T-4)


Education: Ph.D. in Physics-University of Waterloo;
M.S. and B.S. in Physics-University of Pisa

Mentors: Eli Ben-Naim and Cristiano Nisoli

Research: Francesco is interested in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics and in particular in neuromorphic circuits. He has recently focused on the properties of memristors and their collective behavior. Memristors are 2-port passive devices, which have characteristics similar to a resistance, but exhibit a very nonlinear behavior. Neuromorphic circuits are, in general, interesting for many reasons. These provide in fact a valid alternative to the von Neumann architecture at the classical level (analog computation), in particular in view of the need of building circuits which can serve as brain-computer interface. His interest is in particular in the relaxation properties of the circuits under various conditions (AC or DC controlled), exact solutions and the use of statistical mechanics to understand their asymptotic behavior. In particular, in collaboration with Massimiliano Di Ventra and Fabio L. Traversa he derived an exact equation for the internal memory dynamics of purely memristive circuits. This equation allows to treat the system as a pseudo-spin model. With his mentors, he will explore the kinetic behavior of artificial spin ice and its memory features.

Bio: Francesco began studying Quantum Gravity as a PhD student, but moved to Complex Systems after he completed his thesis in “Quantum Pre-Geometry models for Quantum Gravity”. He then got interested in the properties of dynamical graphs and in statistical mechanics. He has a broad range of interests: from percolation phenomena to econophysics and power grids, although always interested in the dynamical aspects. Before arriving at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Francesco has been a postdoc joint between the Santa Fe Institute and OCIAM Oxford with Doyne Farmer, a researcher at UCL with Francesca Medda and a Senior Researcher at Invenia Labs in Cambridge.

Jessica Goodman

Feynman Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Theoretical Division: Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology (T-2)

Jessica Goodman

Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics - University of California, Irvine
B.S. in Physics and Mathematics - University of Arizona

Mentor: Michael Graesser

Research: While the Standard Model has been amazingly successful in describing fundamental interactions of particle physics, many questions remain unexplained. The recent discovery of the Higgs particle exacerbates one of these issues: why is the Higgs mass so light? This is known as the hierarchy or fine tuning problem. Additionally, astrophysical data provide us with strong, albeit indirect, evidence for the existence of dark matter. However it is clear that no Standard Model particle can completely fill this role. Jessica’s research interests lie in addressing these and other questions in Beyond the Standard Model Particle Physics.

More specifically, Jessica is currently considering general extensions of the Higgs sector. Quantum field theory tells us that we cannot add a scalar field with arbitrary isospin and hypercharge to the Standard Model. The size of a new Electroweak field is bound by perturbative unitarity. Given this, she is working on constraining the model space of extended Higgs sectors using Electroweak precision observables. This will place general limits on new physics participating in Electroweak symmetry breaking.

Additionally, Jessica is exploring new methods to allow for larger coverage of dark matter model space for collider applications beyond effective operators. The different types of dark matter experiments probe different dark matter-Standard Model interactions; effective operators allow one to translate between these different types of detection. Based on work she did as a graduate student, much experimental collaboration now present their constraints in the language of effective theories. However, it has become increasingly clear that not all effective theories correspond to sensible theories at collider energies; and simplified models are being explored as a way around this breakdown. But, simplified models are non-generic and may rely on assumptions with no physics motivation. By comparing loop to tree completions of effective operators one can gain a better understanding of how inclusive simplified models are.

Background: Jessica did her Ph.D. studies under the guidance of Prof. Yuri Shirman. As a graduate student, she mostly focused on dark matter and models of supersymmetry breaking. Prior to joining the Lab as a Feynman Fellow, Jessica held two postdoc positions. After obtaining her Ph.D., she joined the Center for Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics at The Ohio State University as a postdoc working with Prof. Linda Carpenter. Most recently, she worked as a member of the Particle Theory Group in the physics department at Carleton University.

Conrad Goodwin

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Chemistry Division: Inorganic, Isotope, and Actinide Chemistry (C-IIAC)


Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in Chemistry – University of Manchester

Mentor: Andrew Gaunt

Research: Conrad works in the area of f-element chemistry, focusing on electronic structure, new oxidation states, and oxidation state/structure/bonding interrelations. Specifically, he is interested in exploring structure/oxidation state relationships in metal-ligand covalency, and how these factors perturb f-element properties such as magnetic response and optical phenomena. The discovery of new oxidation states throughout the f-block in recent years has opened up a new and unexplored regime where our fundamental knowledge is almost completely absent; the nature of the metal-ligand interaction, and electronic structures are not fully understood yet. Tied into this is the concept of covalency, which describes ligand-bonding throughout the periodic table, however our current knowledge of f–element and in particular trans-uranic covalency is sparse. The elucidation of this information along with how oxidation state affects these properties is a fundamental synthetic, computational and experimental challenge, and will greatly add to our understanding of these technologically relevant elements.

Bio: Conrad Goodwin received his Ph.D. under Dr. David Mills. His thesis focused on the use of novel bis(silylamide) ligands, {N(SiR3)2} for the synthesis of extremely low coordination number f-block complexes, and the study of the electronic structures of these complexes. A major sub-theme of his work to date has been on the synthesis of designer f-block Single Molecule Magnets (SMMs), single molecules that can act as tiny bar magnets. The culmination of this work was the synthesis of a Dy(III) complex that functions as a magnet at 60 K, a world record and the closest yet to functioning at liquid nitrogen temperature (77 K). In 2018 he received the Dalton Emerging Researcher award from the RSC, as well as a School of Chemistry Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Manchester.

Christopher Johnson

Feynman Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Earth and Environmental Sciences Division: Geophysics (EES-17)
and Science Program Office/Applied Energy Program (SPO-AE)  


Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in Earth, Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences - University of California Berkeley
B.S. in Geophysics - Georgia Tech

Mentors: Paul Johnson, George Guthrie and Andrew Delorey

Research: Chris studies the crustal response of earthquake activity from transient forces to decompose the mechanical processes of active faulting. Earthquake triggering is the occurrence of an event during a quantifiable stress transient. Studying these events advances our knowledge of what makes earthquakes nucleate. His research uses seismic measurements to detect earthquakes and non-tectonic sources of ground motion. He incorporates geodetic measurements, or how the surface of Earth deforms, to characterize stress perturbations that promote earthquake activity. The enhancement of earthquake catalogs and detecting new observations of weak ground motions using dense seismic arrays is his latest research focus. Applying data driven machine learning techniques is allowing more information to be extracted from seismic waveforms that can be analyzed in conjunction with existing geodetic networks. Current research at Los Alamos National Laboratory is to utilize machine learning algorithms for seismic noise analysis to characterize signals related to earthquake nucleation. Analyzing these observations with new techniques that enhance the resolution of the observations will advance our understanding of what makes an earthquake start rupturing.

Bio: Chris completed his Ph.D. with a NSF graduate research fellowship at the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at UC Berkeley. His dissertation work was advised by Roland Bürgmann with a focus on transient stress changes in the crust and the dynamics of earthquake triggering. He was awarded a NSF postdoctoral fellowship and spent 2.5 years at UC San Diego and Uni. of Southern California utilizing machine learning techniques to identity weak signals in dense seismic array data to enhance earthquake detection. Prior to entering a 4 year university as a non-traditional student, Chris worked as a diesel technician on heavy duty trucks before attending community college and transferring to Georgia Tech to study Geophysics. During his undergraduate studies he was involved in research exploring the dynamics of crustal strain that led to pursuing a graduate degree.

Beth Lindquist

Hoffman Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
Theoretical Division: Physics and Chemistry of Materials (T-1)

Beth Lindquist

Education: PhD in Chemistry - University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign; B.S. in Biochemistry - University of Notre Dame

Mentors: Christopher Ticknor and Jeffery Leiding

Research: Beth is interested in applying statistical inference and machine learning tools to facilitate computationally challenging statistical mechanical calculations. For example, she seeks to use machine-learning tools to accelerate highly accurate computations of the free energy for molecular systems--a prerequisite to making accurate predictions about chemical reactivity. She is also interested in using statistical inference to approximate complicated data (e.g., the output of complex simulation models or experimental data) with simplified models that can be more easily interpreted. 

Bio: At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Beth received her Ph.D. under the advisement of Prof. Thom Dunning, Jr., using electronic structure calculations to study the chemical bonding in sulfur-containing hypervalent molecules. Beth shifted into soft condensed matter for her postdoctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Truskett at the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied spontaneous assembly of colloidal models via computer simulation with a particular focus on using inverse design to facilitate the discovery of novel interaction models that self-assemble into complex morphologies.

Arshan Nasir

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Theoretical Division: Theoretical Biology & Biophysics (T-6)

 arshan nasir

Education: Ph.D in Informatics and M.S. in Bioinformatics -University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; B.S. in Bioinformatics – COMSATS University

Mentors: Thomas Leitner and Ethan Romero-Severson

Research: Arshan has developed and utilized protein structure-based phylogenomic methods to advance research on viral origins and evolution. His research has shown that viruses originated multiple times in evolution from ancient cells that once co-existed with the ancestors of modern organisms, Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. He has also shown that virus-to-cell gene transfer may transcend known host boundaries and the concept of virus host is rather ill-defined. In addition, he has associated the presence and absence of viral lineages in host organisms to major evolutionary transitions that shaped the diversification of life. His research is highly collaborative in nature with teams in USA, France, and Korea, and has been featured in popular science magazines and websites such as BBC Earth, Popular Science, Scientific American, among many others. Recently, he completed editing a special issue on ‘Viruses, genetic exchange, and the tree of life’ on the invitation of Frontiers in Microbiology (https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/7867/viruses-genetic-exchange-and-the-tree-of-life) alongside Professors Gustavo Caetano-Anollés (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Jean-Michel Claverie (Aix-Marseille Université, France). He also co-led the development of HGTree, a novel database to detect horizontally transferred genes in prokaryotes in collaboration with Seoul National University in Korea. The database is available online (http://hgtree.snu.ac.kr/) and has been frequently used by microbiologists worldwide to monitor the spread of genes within bacteria. At LANL, he will be focusing on studying HIV evolution and spread in human populations and developing resources to combat its threat along with advancing his earlier work on reconstructing the deep evolutionary history of organisms and viruses.

Bio: During his undergraduate education, he developed a strong interest in utilizing computational approaches to solve biological problems. He completed an undergraduate thesis studying the possible transmission routes of mouse mammary tumor virus into human populations. This increased his research interest and enthusiasm in studying and combating viruses and he continued with virus evolution research during his MS and PhD education and training under the guidance of Prof. Gustavo Caetano-Anollés. At Illinois, he was part of an international evolutionary genomics collaborative between USA, France, and Korea to study virus origins and evolution using a novel approach based on protein structures. After the completion of his PhD, he returned to his home country of Pakistan and served at the COMSATS University in Islamabad.

Johanna Palmstrom

Reines Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Materials Physics & Applications Division: National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MPA-MAGLAB)


Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in Applied Physics – Stanford University
B.S. in Physics – University of California Santa Barbara

Mentors: Ross McDonald

Research: Johanna’s research is focused on understanding unconventional superconductivity and the phase diagrams in which this exotic phase occurs. Her research leverages the relationship in solids between the electronic symmetries of a material and the symmetry of the underlying crystal lattice by using strain as a powerful tool to both probe and tune emergent phenomena and phase transitions. In her graduate work, Johanna investigated the large electronic nematic instability found in one family of unconventional superconductor, the Fe-based superconductors, via measurements of the elastoresistivity (the induced resistivity response to strain). At LANL she brings symmetry resolved measurements and strain to the extreme environment of pulsed magnetic fields to study broken symmetry phases and symmetry breaking fluctuations in strongly correlated electron systems.

Bio: Johanna’s interest in science and research began at a young age when her father, a materials scientist, took her into lab for a “Bring Your Child to Work Day.” She assisted with a thin-film single crystal growth and assembling toy model crystal structures. She was a Regents Scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara where she pursued a B. S. degree in the College of Creative Studies Physics program. She was actively involved in research throughout her undergraduate studies where she worked with Prof. James Allen and Prof. Omar Saleh and was awarded the Arnold Nordsieck Award as a graduating senior for her promise in scientific research. She completed her Ph. D. at Stanford University under the advisement of Prof. Ian Fisher. For her dissertation research she investigated the role of electronically driven rotational symmetry breaking in iron-based superconductors. During her graduate studies she was honored to receive the G. J. Lieberman Fellowship, the Gabilan Stanford Graduate Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and to attend the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Johanna joined Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Frederick Reines Postdoctoral Fellow in 2020.

Ivan Popov

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow
Theoretical Division: Physics and Chemistry of Materials (T-1) and Center for Non-linear Studies (T-CNLS)

Ivan Popov

Education: Ph.D. in Chemistry - Utah State University
M.S. and B.S. in Physical Chemistry – Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia.

Mentors: Ping Yang and Enrique Batista

Research: Ivan’s research involves accurate quantum mechanical calculations of electronic properties, chemical bonding interactions, and spectroscopic signatures of actinide and transition-metal containing compounds. He is currently working on the computational prediction of novel redox flow cells for large-scale energy storage that are critical for the deployment of power grids with significant renewable energy. Specifically, Ivan’s work is focused on the development of design principles needed for the discovery of novel electrolytes with higher energy density storage characteristics. The proposed complexes and their electrochemical properties will be chemically and spectroscopically verified by the experimental groups in the Materials Physics and Applications (MPA) and Chemistry (C) Divisions at LANL.

Bio: Ivan received his Ph.D. under the guidance of Professor Alexander I. Boldyrev. His Ph.D. research focused on the rationalization of the structure, stability, and development of chemical bonding models for various exotic molecules and solid-state materials, including gas-phase clusters produced in a molecular beam (e.g. CoB16- cluster with 16 coordinate metal atom), condensed-phase cryptand salts (e.g. aromatic [Au2Sb16]4- cluster) as well as unique periodically extended materials exhibiting unprecedented structures and unconventional chemical bonding patterns (e.g. hexacoordinate Cu2Si monolayer, high-pressure Na2He compound). In 2017, Ivan joined the Lab as a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow before becoming an Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. For more information, access Ivan's Google Scholar page.

Andrey Sadofyev

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Theoretical Division: Nuclear and Particle Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology (T-2)

Andrey Sadofyev

Education: Ph.D. in Physics - MIT;
M.S. and B.S. in Physics – Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Mentor: Ivan Vitev

Research: Andrey is interested in dynamics of quark-gluon plasma (QGP): a novel state of matter produced in experiments on heavy ion collisions. Currently, his work is focused on non-perturbative phenomena and strongly coupled dynamics in quantum chromodynamics at finite temperatures and densities. In particular, Andrey’s research relies on the rapidly developing tool of holographic duality, which relates higher-dimensional gravity and a strongly coupled gauge theory in one lower dimension.  Combining various approaches, this research provides theoretical insights helping to understand the details of QGP behavior that is seen in experiments.

Bio: Andrey started his scientific research as an undergraduate under the supervision of Valentine I. Zakharov at the Institute for Theoretical and Experimental Physics, Moscow. He then completed his Ph.D. studies under the guidance of Krishna Rajagopal.

Loreen Stromberg

Reines Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Chemistry Division: Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (C-PCS) and Inorganic, Isotope, and Actinide Chemistry (C-IIAC)

Loreen Stromberg

Education: Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering – University of New Mexico; B.S. in Biochemistry – University of New Mexico

Mentors: Harshini Mukundan and Stosh Kozimor

Research: Loreen is interested in studying methods for simulating and creating complex biomimetic membranes to observe the interactions of pathogenic biomarkers at the cell surface. Her work currently focuses on developing precision patterned membranes and studying how different lipid and protein membrane compositions and architectures affect the interactions of amphiphiles such as lipopolysaccharide, lipoarabinomannan, and mycolactone with said membranes. Understanding these interactions is critical as it adds to the global knowledge base for mechanisms of innate immune recognition and vaccine technology which furthers our abilities to detect and fight infectious diseases.

Bio: Loreen’s research has always fundamentally focused on developing biomedical solutions to address human health and disease. Her undergraduate research with Dr. Pavan Muttil (University of New Mexico) worked to develop assays to evaluate the toxicity of novel drug carriers for cancer treatment. Under the supervision of Drs. Harshini Mukundan, Gabriel Montaño (Los Alamos National Laboratory), and Steven Graves (University of New Mexico) she began studying membrane interactions during her doctoral studies as a means to develop and improve detection methods for pathogenic E. coli. As a postdoc in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University, she worked with professors Jonathan Claussen and Carmen Gomes as well as Jeroen De Buck (University of Calgary) to develop an array of rapid, disposable diagnostics for various targets such as cancer, Salmonella, E. coli, and immunoglobulins. Their work ultimately led to the founding of the startup biotech company, NanoSpy, Inc., that Loreen co-founded and served as the CEO until returning to Los Alamos National Laboratory as a Postdoctoral Research Associate.

Daniel Trugman

Feynman Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Earth and Environmental Science Division: Geophysics (EES-17); Theoretical Division: Physics and Chemistry of Materials (T-1)


Education: Ph.D. and M.S. in Earth Sciences / Geophysics - Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
B.S. in Geophysics - Stanford

Mentors: Paul Johnson, Andrew Delorey, and Kipton Barros

Research: Daniel’s research applies machine learning techniques to tackle challenging problems in the solid earth sciences, with a particular emphasis on understanding earthquake source processes and quantifying seismic hazard. Current projects at Los Alamos National Laboratory include data-driven analyses of the waveform features radiated during the initial rupture process of large earthquakes, and imaging of failure stresses and stress transfer from human-triggered earthquakes that occur during industrial mining operations.

Bio: He was born and raised in Los Alamos, and began work at the lab as a high school summer student in the Materials Physics and Applications (MPA) division. Daniel studied Geophysics as an undergraduate student, and returned to the Laboratory for one year as post-baccalaureate researcher in EES-17. Daniel’s Ph.D. research was advised by Peter Shearer, and spanned a broad range of problems in observational seismology.

Hsinhan Tsai

Oppenheimer Distinguished Postdoc Fellow
Materials Physics and Applications: Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (MPA-CINT) and Pulsed Field Study (MPA-MAGLAB); and Theoretical Division: Physics and Chemistry of Materials (T-1)

Hsinhan Tsai

Education: Ph.D. in Materials Science and Nanoengineering – Rice University; M.S. in Institute of Organic and Polymeric Materials – National Taipei University of Technology; B.S. in Chemistry – Fu Jen Catholic University

Mentors: Wanyi Nie, Vivien Zapf, and Sergei Tretiak

Research: Hsinhan’s research interest focuses on fundamental materials science, including material synthesize, structure-function relationship in organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites semiconductors for optoelectronics (photovoltaics and LEDs) applications. During his PhD, he developed a novel “hot casting” approach to precisely control the crystalline structure and long-range crystal orientations to obtain high quality 3D and 2D perovskites semiconducting thin films, that suppress the non-radiative recombination and improve the charge transport and collection for high performance electronic device operation. Hsinhan’s current research at LANL focuses on integrating hybrid perovskites-based materials in functional device applications, such as high energy radiation detector and opto-electronic devices. He also tries to explore other novel properties, such as coupled magnetic & electrical properties. For more detail information about his research, visit Hsinhan's Google Scholar page.

Bio: Hsinhan started his scientific research in 2006 as an M.S. student under the supervision of Prof. Leeyih Wang at the Center for Condensed Matter Sciences at National Taiwan University and former LANL Scientist Dr. Hsing-Lin Wang (now chair professor at Southern University of Science and Technology). Prior to Ph.D., he worked as post mater student at LANL during 2012-2014. During his Ph.D. under the guidance of Prof. Pulickel M. Ajayan, Prof. Jun Lou and Prof. Aditya Mohite (Ph.D. co-mentor), a former LANL scientist now associate professor in Rice University, Hsinhan established his expertise in layered perovskite material synthesize and characterizations and got his Ph.D. on May 2018. In 2012, he received a Los Alamos Distinguished Performance Award for Small Teams for his contribution in using conjugate polymer for sensor applications as a member of the C-PCS group, as well as a Graduate Student Gold Award from the Materials Research Society for its “particularly significant and timely research” of hybrid perovskites materials and its applications in photovoltaics and LEDs in 2018.