Nadya Mason

Keynote Speaker – Dr. Nadya Mason

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.




Plenary Speaker – Vandana Tripathi

Dr. Tripathi was born in Agra, a small town in India, and earned her master’s degree from St John’s College Agra and her Ph.D in experimental nuclear physics from Jawahar Lal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, working on understanding fusion reactions of subatomic nuclei at energies below the Coulomb barrier. Dr. Tripathi joined the Florida State University as a Post -Doctoral Fellow in 2003 and now serves as an Assistant Professor.


Dr. Tripathi’s current research focuses heavily on understanding the structure of subatomic nuclei, especially those that are unstable and do not occur in nature but are very crucial to understand nucleo-synthesis as it happened in the early stages of the universe. She employs gamma-ray spectroscopy to obtain information about excited states in the nuclei of interest which then leads to a better understanding of the forces that hold the nucleons together inside the nucleus. Her experiments are carried out both at FSU and national facilities like the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory at MSU and Argonne National Laboratory. As an educator, Dr. Tripathi enjoys teaching the concepts of physics and advancing students’ understanding.




Plenary Speaker – Rose Lejiste

Rose LeJiste is a proud first generation Haitian-American born and raised in South Florida. She received her bachelor’s in industrial engineering at the University of Central Florida and then worked at Kennedy Space Center for 15 years. Rose is the Founder and CEO of RL Engineering and Tech Solutions. She is an expert in data analytics, business intelligence and optimization, process improvement and streamlining, reliability/safety engineering, performance and project management in both government and commercial environments.

Rose’s ecosystem building work includes, but it not limited to, a two-year tenure as Executive Director of a local tech nonprofit committed to accelerating minority economic advancement through careers and entrepreneurship in tech; developing and facilitating entrepreneurial development programs that equipped underrepresented startup founders with business knowledge, skillsets, education, and resources; leading an initiative focused on assessing the small business ecosystem in Orange County/Orlando area; and playing an active role as an advocate and collaborator in the Florida innovation and tech community.





Plenary Speaker – Jami Valentine-Miller

Dr. Valentine Miller , A native Philadelphian, graduated from Florida A&M University (FAMU) cum laude and  earned a master’s at Brown University. In 2006 Jami became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University where she studied the spin properties of rare earth metals. This also made her the first female FAMU alumna to earn a Ph.D. in Physics. Later in 2006, she joined the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office where she currently serves as a primary examiner.


Dr. Valentine Miller engages in many outreach activities, including speaking to young physicists, future scientists and engineers and those interested in non-academic physics careers, especially intellectual property.  She founded a website dedicated to  African-American women in physics (AAWiP.com). She is a wife, mother, and in her spare time,  a licensed Zumba instructor.