Hichwa Family Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship

Established through the generous support of Dr. Bryant P. (C’68) and Ms. Diane V. Hichwa, this family fund annually supports an undergraduate student to carry out research in the department during the summer. Dr. Hichwa earned a B.S. in physics from Georgetown University in 1968. His participation in research while an undergraduate had a lasting influence on him. After graduating from Georgetown, Dr. Hichwa earned his Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame and worked in both the academic world and industry. He taught physics at Hope College in Michigan for ten years. He spent twelve years at Optical Coating Laboratory, Inc. (OCLI) in Santa Rosa, rising to the level of vice president of research. In 2000, he became president of MetroPhotonics (USA), Inc., a Santa Rosa outpost of a Canadian telecommunications company. Before retiring, he returned to his first love, teaching. Dr. Hichwa was Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State University from 2002 to 2008, where he was awarded the all campus Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005. Dr. Hichwa passed away in 2022. He is survived by his wife Ms. Diane V. Hichwa.

Hichwa Fellows

2024: Kayla Winters

2023: Sophie Taylor is working in the Van Keuren lab to synthesize and characterize nanocapsules consisting of a liquid core enclosed by a polymer shell. These types of nanoparticles have numerous applications, including as corrosion inhibitors, herbicide carriers, and drug deliverers.

2022: Bradley Fugetta is investigating machine learning of magnetic Hamiltonian parameters from magnetometry data. Working with Profs. Gen Yin and Amy Liu, Bradley is testing and optimizing a customized convolutional neural network to extract magnetic parameters such as the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction from minor hysteresis loops. This could become a useful tool in the search for new materials with topological spin textures for next generation information processing.  

2021: Catherine McCarthy is studying processes involved in the evolution of cement from an aqueous suspension of small particles to a rigid solid. Working in Prof. Emanuela Del Gado’s group, Catherine is carrying out atomistic simulations of confined ion-water solutions to understand ion-specific nanoscale forces that affect cohesion in cement. In addition to providing fundamental insight into the material, Catherine’s research will test ideas that could lead to greener formulations of cement. 

2020: Pia Bhatia is studying the degree of hydrophilicity of various thin-film metal oxide surface coatings on flexible substrates. Working with Prof. Mak Paranjape, Pia is using photolithography to fabricate a passive-flow microfluidic device comprised primarily of PDMS-PEO.

2019: Brian Damerau is applying computational techniques to investigate the mechanics and dynamics of reinforced gels. Working with Prof. Emanuela Del Gado, Brian is studying how the permeability and mechanics of  filler nanoparticles in complex soft gel networks depend upon their concentration and size.

2018: J. Andrew Paliotta is studying collective modes in superfluid 3He. The frequencies of these modes provide information about quasiparticle interactions, but the interpretation of experimental results has been uncertain due to unknown corrections from strong-coupling effects. Working with Prof. Joe Serene, Andrew is calculating corrections to the frequencies due to strong coupling.

2017: Max Waxman is studying active matter, which are materials in which the constituents can move under their own power as well as react to external forces.  Working with Prof. David Egolf, Max is using nonlinear dynamical analysis to study the liquid to glass transition in a simple model of active matter.

2016: Bridget Johnson studied the self-assembly of molecules in solution. Working the Van Keuren lab, she used a laser based method called fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to characterize the first stage in the growth of organic nanoparticles being developed for biomedical applications.

2015: Nicholas Quirk conducted research on graphene-based microelectronics devices in Prof. Barbara’s lab. He fabricated THz antennas and p-n junction field-effect transistors, and he tested their electrical properties.

2014: Andrew Stromberg performed initial experiments in the Urbach lab to study developing neurons using a high-resolution microscopy technique called Total Internal Reflectance Fluorescence.

2013: John Kerin worked with Prof. David Egolf to study medium energy interactions and decays using heavy hadron chiral perturbation theory.

2012: Andrew Jreissaty worked with Prof. Marcos Rigol on a project to explore whether a quantum distillation process previously seen in one dimensional system could also occur in two dimensions.

2011: Dionysios Koroulakis worked in the Van Keuren lab on the development of nanoparticles for the detection of cancer.