The 44th Annual University of Alabama High School Physics Contest will be held on Friday, January 31, 2020 at the Ferguson Center on the campus of the University of Alabama. This event is open to all high schools and usually attracts schools from surrounding states as well as many from Alabama. As with last year, we will be holding a career panel to advise high school students about their options if they choose to pursue a Physics degree. The panel will be held from 1:00 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. in the Ferguson Ballroom.


Our panelists are:

Dr. Broxton Miles is a UA alum who obtained his PhD in Physics with a specialization in astronomy in 2018. His research was in computational astrophysics. He used some of the world’s largest and fastest supercomputers to create and run simulations of exploding stars known as supernovae. After obtaining his PhD, Dr. Miles pursued a postdoc at NC State university working on explosions of massive stars. Dr. Miles is currently a researcher in the private sector.

Dr. Katherine Rawlins is a physics professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She studies how cosmic rays hitting the top of Earth’s atmosphere produce showers of particles, and how these showers are detected by the IceCube Observatory in Antarctica. She spent a year at the South Pole station in 2002 as a winter-over scientist, has been in Alaska since 2005, and moonlights as a flight instructor.

Sarah Tarbox is a UA alumna, high school physics teacher and an American Physical Society  (APS) STEP-Up ambassador.

Julie Covin  (Teacher/ASIM) is the Physics Specialist for Alabama Science in Motion (ASIM) at the University of Alabama. She works through the UA/UWA In-Service Teacher Education Center with 12 school systems in nine counties in West Central Alabama.  She provides training, equipment and support to teachers of high school physics.

Dr. Dawn Williams  is an astroparticle physicist who uses measurements of neutrinos, cosmic rays and gamma rays from outside the solar system to explore the high energy Universe. Dr. Williams group is developing techniques to identify tau neutrinos detected with the IceCube experiment, the largest neutrino detector on Earth, located at the geographic South Pole, deep in the Antarctic icecap. IceCube was built to detect the most energetic astrophysical neutrinos from objects such as accreting super massive black holes and gamma ray bursts.

Dr. Williams received her doctoral degree from UCLA in 2004. She joined the faculty of The University of Alabama in 2008.

Dr. Adam Hauser is a condensed matter physicist. His research focuses on the interplay of electronic, magnetic, and structural properties in tailored complex material systems. Understanding these complex interactions will result in the next generation of magnetic and electronic materials.  For details, please visit:

Dr. Hauser received his PhD in Physics from The Ohio State University in 2010. He won the California NanoSystems Institute Elings Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship to conduct research at the University of California Santa Barbara from 2012-2015. Dr. Hauser joined the faculty of The University of Alabama in 2015.

Dr. Preethi Nair is an observational astronomer who investigates the formation and evolution of galaxies. She is interested in the different processes which can lead to star formation or the triggering of supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies.  Dr. Nair is particularly interested in data mining large surveys to explore how galaxies have evolved over time. She is currently involved in the SDSS IV MaNGA survey.

Dr. Nair received her doctoral degree from the University of Toronto in 2009. She joined the faculty of The University of Alabama in January 2014.

Markus Garbiso is a graduate Physics student at the University of Alabama. He works under Dr. Matthias Kaminski on theoretical physics where they use math that describes black holes to describe the fluids in “Little Bangs”. Such fluid may have been present in the early universe. Markus hopes to work in academia in the future in the field of High Energy Physics.

Mason Blanke is a senior in Electrical Engineering, graduating in May. She will be starting a position with Chevron as an Instrumentation Engineer in Los Angeles after graduation. Her background experience primarily includes the civil space industry and academic research for the IceCube project.

Other Resources:

American Physical Society (APS): Find physics job listings, education and career advice (e.g.,Why Study Physics?), upcoming workshops and meetings, and career and job-related resources.

American Institute of Physics (AIP): Find employment data for physicists and astronomers, hiring trendscareer options (PDF), and other career resources.


Previous HSPC Career Panels can be found at:

2019 HSPC Career Panel
2018 HSPC Career Panel
2017 HSPC Career Panel
2016 HSPC Career Panel


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