2021 UA High School Physics Contest Career Panel

The 46th Annual University of Alabama High School Physics Contest was held in February 2021. Due to covid-19, we held lab tours and an online career panel for students with speakers from industry, government, and universities.


Our panelists were:

Dr. Stephen Granade is a physicist who specializes in sensors for robotic vehicles. At Dynetics he is a Principal Analyst working on sensors for Army Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. He has worked on sensors that can read your fingerprint from 10 feet away, systems that let unpiloted helicopters land automatically, and a video-based sensor that helped guide the Space Shuttle to the Hubble Space Telescope.

His PhD research was on laser cooling and trapping neutral atoms to nearly absolute zero in order to create Fermionic superfluids and to study quantum mechanical effects on a macro scale. He is the host of NASA’s “No Small Steps” YouTube series, and has provided scientific commentary for FoxNews.com, CBS Marketwatch, and Jalopnik.

Dr. Krista McCord obtained a PhD in Physics with a specialization in Astronomy from the University of Alabama in 2017. She is currently a Software Engineer at Deep Space Systems Inc.

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: http://hauserlab.ua.edu/

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.


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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