Plenary Speakers

Amanda Acevedo

Amanda Acevedo

President, Vedo Systems

Ms. Amanda Acevedo has over 25 years of experience in software development, integration, test and verification, project management, cross program integration and technical leadership. Currently, she is the owner of Vedo Systems where Amanda leads a growing team of software engineers who specialize in developing high performance, reliable software solutions for human rated spacecraft. Major efforts at Vedo Systems include developing & verifying onboard flight software for NASA's Orion program and providing software, modeling, and simulation systems engineering expertise for NASA's Gateway program. Prior to her work at Vedo Systems, Amanda worked on multiple NASA programs including the Space Shuttle, X-38, and AERCam, as well as several commercial software development projects in the aerospace, energy, and medical sectors.

Examples of her past projects include developing a 6 degree-of-freedom simulation for the X-38 spacecraft, building a display and control interface for an application to monitor patient safety while in a hospital setting, an acoustic ranging project for an oil and gas application, and requirements development in support of a commercial space station module, Axiom. Amanda's technical skills have been honed through involvement in software development and integration efforts in support of the US Department of Energy, and NASA Johnson Space Center. She is an alumna of the University of Iowa's Physics & Astronomy department.

Fran poses with Jupiter puzzle

Fran Bagenal, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics

Dr. Fran Bagenal was born and grew up in England. She studied Physics and Geophysics at the University of Lancaster. In 1976, inspired by NASA’s missions to Mars and the prospect of the Voyager mission, she moved to the US for graduate study at MIT. Her 1981 PhD thesis involved analysis of data from the Voyager Plasma Science experiment in Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere. She spent 1982-1987 as a post-doctoral researcher in space physics at Imperial College, London. Voyager flybys of Uranus and Neptune brought her back to the US and she joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1989. She was professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences until 2015 when she chose to stop teaching and focus on NASA’s New Horizons and Juno missions. She remains a Research Scientist at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. 

In addition to the Voyager mission, Dr. Bagenal has been on the science teams of the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Deep Space 1 mission to Comet Borrelly. She edited Jupiter: Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (Cambridge University Press, 2004). She’s on the plasma teams of the first two New Frontiers missions: the New Horizons mission that - after a 9.5-year flight - flew past Pluto on 14th July 2015 and Juno that went into orbit over the poles of Jupiter on 4th July 2016.

In 2021 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She took the honor as an opportunity to pay back to the community by co-chairing a study on Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Leadership of Competed Space Missions.

Headshot of Taviare Hawkins

Taviare Hawkins, Ph.D.

Professor of Physics, St. Catherine University
Chair, Math and Sciences Division, St. Catherine University

Prof. Taviare Hawkins is currently a Professor of Physics and Chair of the Math and Sciences Division at St. Catherine University. Prior, she was chair and professor of physics at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse (UWL). UWL grants the most undergraduate degrees in physics from a primarily undergraduate institution. Before that, she completed her postdoc at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in an experimental biophysics' lab. She attended graduate school at Syracuse University in New York, where she completed two MS degrees (in Computer Science and Physics) and a Ph.D. in Physics. She is an alumna of the University of Iowa, receiving her BS in Physics and minoring in African American Studies.

While at UWL, Prof. Hawkins ran a productive biophysics research laboratory and trained over 50 undergraduates in research. About half have gone on to graduate school. Her research involves working on problems at the intersection of physics, mathematics, engineering, biology, and chemistry. Dr. Hawkins is also very involved in activities that increase the number of women and other underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy, promote the sciences, and improve science students' retention and graduation rates. She uses her voice at the national and international levels to serve several professional societies. Dr. Hawkins is vice-chair elect on the American Physical Society's (APS) Forum on Outreach and Engaging the Public and is an outgoing member-at-large on the Division of Biology executive committee. She is a member of the Biophysical Society (BPS) nominations committee and serves as an elected counselor on the Council on Undergraduate Research's Physics and Astronomy Division (CURPA).

Headshot of Nadya Mason

Nadya Mason, Ph. D.

APS Physics Plenary Speaker
Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Nadya Mason is the Rosalyn S. Yalow Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she specializes in experimental studies of materials. She received her B.S. from Harvard University and her PhD from Stanford University, both in physics. Dr. Mason’s research focuses on the electronic properties of small-scale materials, such as nano-scale wires and atomically thin membranes. Her research is relevant to applications involving nano-scale and quantum computing elements. She currently serves as founding Director of the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (I-MRSEC), a $16.1 million multidisciplinary research and education center funded by the National Science Foundation, and was recently named Director of the Illinois Beckman Institute. In addition to maintaining a rigorous research program and teaching, Dr. Mason works to increase diversity in the physical sciences, particularly through mentoring, and is former chair of the American Physical Society (APS) Committee on Minorities. Dr. Mason can also be seen promoting science on local TV, at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and in a TED talk on “Scientific Curiosity.” Dr. Mason has been recognized for her work with numerous awards, including the 2009 Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award, the 2012 APS Maria Goeppert Mayer Award, and the 2019 APS Bouchet Award. In 2021 she was elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.

Workshop/Panel Leaders

Charlotte Christensen Headshot

Charlotte Christensen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Physics, Grinnell College

​​​​​​​Dr. Charlotte Christensen is an Associate Professor in the Grinnell College Physics Department. Her research focuses on the evolution of galaxies over the history of the Universe using high-resolution computer simulations. She and her team of undergraduate research students have recently been using these simulations to understand what happens when low-mass satellite galaxies encounter a Milky Way-like galaxy. In addition to her astronomy scholarship, Prof. Christensen is passionate about incorporating programming instruction into the physics curriculum. As such, she is leading an effort to create computational exercises that teach programming skills while reinforcing physics concepts.

Firdevs Duru Headshot

Firdevs Duru, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Physics, Coe College
Local Organizing Committee Member (Coe College)

​​​​​​​Dr. Firdevs Duru is an Associate Professor of Physics at Coe College, Iowa. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa and she does research in the area of space physics. Her main interests are the ionosphere of Mars, its interactions with solar wind and comparisons with other solar system objects. She is also the advisor of Women in STEM club at Coe College, which is a very active organization working on promoting gender equality and creating awareness on issues women face in STEM fields. Dr. Duru will be leading Communicating your Research workshop during CUWIP 2023.

Cecilia Fasano

Cecilia Fasano

Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Iowa
Local Organizing Committee Member (University of Iowa)

Ms. Cecilia Fasano studies the manufacture and implementation of next-generation ultraviolet diffraction gratings for astronomy. A current PhD student at the University of Iowa, she graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a BS in Physics in 2020. Cecilia was awarded a NASA FINESST (Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology) grant to support her Ph.D. research with Prof. Casey DeRoo & Prof. Keri Hoadley. In addition to her research, Cecilia is deeply involved in graduate student governance and mentoring. She is a founding member of both the Physics & Astronomy department's Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) and the GradMAP graduate student peer mentoring program.

Dr. Rachael Filwett

Rachael Filwett, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Scholar, The University of Iowa
Assistant Professor, Montana State University (2023)
Local Organizing Committee Member (University of Iowa)

Dr. Rachael Filwett is currently a postdoctoral research scholar at the University of Iowa and going to be an Assistant Professor at Montana State University starting January 2023. Dr. Filwett does research in the area of space physics, with a particular focus on solar energetic particle transportation. She was awarded the University of Iowa Postdoctoral Excellence Award in 2021, is a National Science Foundation Atmosphere and Geospace Section Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and has been a part of many NASA missions and grants to study particle acceleration in the Earth's magnetic field and in the interplanetary medium. She is particularly interested in smallsat missions. She will be leading the NASA mission primer panel and is one of the lead organizers for this CUWiP.

Sarah Henderson

Sarah Henderson

Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Iowa
Local Organizing Committee Member (University of Iowa)

Ms. Sarah Henderson is currently a PhD student at the University of Iowa. She studies solar wind interactions at Mars using data collected by the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft. Sarah received her MS in Physics from the University of Iowa in 2019 and her Bachelor of Arts in Physics and German from Lafayette College in 2016. Between her MS and PhD studies, she worked for a NASA GSFC contractor helping to calibrate Earth observing optical data collected by the Aqua and Terra spacecraft, as well as scheduling calibration events for both spacecraft as a member of the Instrument Operations Team.

Allison Jaynes

Allison Jaynes, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, The University of Iowa

Associate Professor Allison Jaynes joined the faculty at the University of Iowa in 2017 after receiving a PhD from the University of New Hampshire and working as a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on inner magnetosphere particle dynamics, including the ring current and radiation belts and how they connect to atmospheric and auroral physics. She has served as a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Van Allen Probes and Voyager missions. She is currently serving as a member of the Heliophysics Advisory Committee to NASA HQ and as a member of the Heliophysics Decadal Survey Steering Committee. She previously served as Co-Chair of the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) Science and Technology Definitions Team for NASA. She was awarded an NSF CAREER in 2020. She is currently advising one postdoctoral researcher and four PhD students, and was a recipient of the University of Iowa Postdoctoral Association Mentor Award. She teaches multiple courses including a newly developed course on spaceflight hardware (The Edge of Space: Mission and Instrument Design for Spaceflight). She is deeply committed to equity and inclusion in STEM, and is passionate about promoting active learning and positive team dynamics.

Riley Troyer Headshot

Riley Troyer

Graduate Research Assistant, The University of Iowa

Mr. Riley Troyer moved from Fairbanks, Alaska, to the University of Iowa to study the northern lights (aurora) for his PhD. In addition to research, he is heavily involved with science policy and communication. In undergrad, he spent a summer working on Capitol Hill for US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. More recently, Riley help create and is currently the president of Connecting Science to Society, the University of Iowa's student org for science policy and communication. He also dabbles in citizen science and helped organize a citizen aurora watching campaign for the Loss Through Auroral Microburst Pulsations (LAMP) sounding rocket mission. In 2020, Riley was awarded a NASA Future Investigators in NASA Earth and Space Science and Technology (FINESST) grant to support his Ph. D. studies at the University of Iowa.