Panel Discussion


Henderson Welcome Center

Start Date

27-3-2018 12:45 PM

End Date

27-3-2018 1:30 PM

Panelist Info

Meghan Burleigh

Meghan is an Engineering Physics Ph.D. student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Daytona Beach, FL. She received her B.S. in Space Physics, with concentrations in Astrophysics and Remote Sensing, from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott, AZ. She will be the first person in her family to earn a Ph.D. when she graduates this December. As part of her doctoral studies, Meghan has developed a novel computer program used to simulate how the ionosphere, part of the near-Earth space environment, responds to auroral and atmospheric disturbances. Currently she is working on simulating the plasma flow due to aurora observed by a recent sounding rocket campaign and serving as a student representative on the CEDAR Science Steering Committee.

Audrey A. Butler

Audrey Butler earned her BS and Ph.D. in Chemical and Materials Engineering from the University of Iowa. In 1999, she joined the University of Iowa Chemical and Biochemical Engineering faculty as a lecturer. She also served as the departmental honors advisor and program ABET accreditation coordinator, guiding the program through three successful cycles and earning “exemplary report” status in 2015.

Career highlights include increasing the diversity of students participating in summer high school programs, revamping the undergraduate unit operations lab course, and maintaining high student satisfaction scores in all her courses.

Before joining the faculty, she directed the Iowa Secondary Student Training Program (ISSTO), which brought talented high school students to the University of Iowa for summer research internships. ISSTO also worked with the American Indian Science and Engineering Society and the Junior Science and Humanities Symposia to assist them in their STEM programs.

As a graduate student, she interned at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque as part of the Outstanding Student Summer Training Program. Her project focused on the use of solar energy to detoxify drinking water. She also interned at Iowa Electric where she worked on their landfill gas biofuel project.

Volunteerism has always been an important part of her life. She currently works with PACE Center for Girls, which provides education, counseling, and advocacy for at-risk girls in Volusia and Flagler Counties. In the past, her family delivered Meals on Wheels for almost a decade. She has also been a GED math tutor, a Cub Scout den mother and assistant Girl Scout troop leader, elementary school volunteer coordinator, and PTO president. She is certified as an administrative official with USA Swimming, the national governing body for competitive swimming, and trains others for certification. She has coordinated events for beginning swimmers, clubs, and NCAA Division I Men’s Championships.

Her interests include running 5K and 10K races, cooking, travel, and reading. She enjoys fiber arts and has taught quilting. One of her mini quilts was featured in a digital magazine in November 2015.

Sharmistha Chakrabarti

Sharmistha Chakrabarti is an Associate Professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU). She received her first Master of Science in Pure Mathematics from University of Calcutta, India and her second Masters of Science in Applied Mathematics from Clemson University. She was the winner of the Clayton V. Aucoin Award forOutstanding Masters Student. During her time at ERAU, Sharmistha taught a broad spectrum of math courses to students in Engineering, Business, and Aviation, that includes advanced engineering courses, special topics, and honors level courses.

She is the winner of 2016 Tej Gupta Outstanding Teaching Award. Previously she has received Outstanding Mathematics Instructor Award presented by Delta-Chi Fraternity. In 2012, she was recognized by the Student Government Association of ERAU with Student First Award for her dedication to students. Sharmistha is actively involved in promoting and supporting female students in STEM programs. She, along with other colleagues, hosted the annual Women in Math event from 2005 to 2012, in an effort to motivate female high schools students of Volusia County to choose math and science as programs of choice for higher education. She had participated in STEM Teachers Professional Development Workshop for middle and high school teachers and had given presentations. Since 2010, she is the advisor of the organization Up ‘til Dawn – a nationwide student-led and student-run program to raise awareness and funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Anastasia Diamond

Anastasia Diamond is a doctoral student in the Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology Department here at Embry-Riddle. She began her graduate career at Wichita State University where she received her Master’s in Human Factors Psychology, but was brought to Riddle for a new opportunity to finish her doctorate. Her main focus of study investigates the driving performance of distracted drivers, but she has also done research on the usability of various products and systems. She is also a co-organizer of a new local chapter called “Hexagon: Daytona Beach” that focuses on women in UX (user experience).

Nicola Fox

Dr. Nicola “Nicky” Fox joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in 1998 as a research scientist where she studied various aspects of the geospace impact of coronal mass ejection events from the Sun. She serves as the Chief Scientist for Heliophysics in the Space Research Branch. She has extensive project and program science leadership experience and is project scientist for the Parker Solar Probe (PSP) where her main role is to ensure the scientific integrity of the mission. She represents the PSP science team in all aspects of the project, leads the Science Working Group activities and liaises with the mission engineering team and the NASA/Goddard and Headquarters program offices. Prior to joining APL, Nicky was a USA National Research Council fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and a research scientist at Raytheon, with special responsibilities for the operations of the NASA Polar spacecraft and the International Solar Terrestrial Physics Program. She earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Imperial College of Science, a master’s of science degree in telematics from the University of Surrey, and a bachelor’s degree in physics from the Imperial College of Science.

Karen Gaines

Dr. Karen Gaines has served as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Daytona Beach since 2016. Prior to joining ERAU, Dr. Gaines worked at the US Department of Energy’s (USDOE) Savannah River Site, before joing the faculty of Eastern Illinois University where she served as Department Chair of Biological Sciences and founding Director of the Geographic Information Science Center. Dr. Gaines is an interdisciplinary scientist whose expertise primarliy focuses on toxicological exposure pathways for both environmental and human risk assessment, specifically as it pertains to health physics, radiobiology, metals and organics. Dr. Gaines has received numerous research and leadership awards for her work with the USDOE, US Environmental Protection Agency as well as the US Department of Defense. Dr. Gaines continues to serve these agencies, not only as a risk assessor, but also as an expert in spatial data analytics.

Dr. Gaines’ PhD is in Environmental Health from University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health, where she was awarded the doctoral achievement award for her work in identifying pathway exposures for vulnerable populations living near nuclear waste sites. Dr. Gaines works closely with the Aerospace Medical Society, American Public Health Association, and the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in various capacities and is an appointed member of both the Health Physics Society and the International Union of Radioecology. Since joining ERAU, Dr. Gaines has expanded the depth and breadth of the research and training capacities of COAS, especially as it pertains to Human Factors, Aerospace Physiology, and Engineering Physics.

Katariina Nykyri,PhD

Dr. Nykyri obtained her Ph.D in 2002. In her thesis she demonstrated for the first time how Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability can produce significant plasma transport due to magnetic reconnection. She worked as post-doctoral research associate in Imperial College, London between 2002-2007. She is a co-investigator for the Flux Gate Magnetometer onboard 4 Cluster spacecraft and received in 2005 and 2015 European Space Agency awards for Cluster Exploration of Geospace. In January 2007 she started as an assistant professor of Physics in Embry-Riddle and was tenured and promoted to associate professor in 2010, and to a full professor of physics in 2016. Dr. Nykyri has an externally well-funded research program in magnetospheric physics and supervises ERAU undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D student research. Her major research interests involve understanding the physical mechanisms that transport and heat plasma in solar wind -magnetosphere system. Dr. Nykyri was awarded the NSF career award in 2009 and ERAU researcher of the year award in 2010. She is a Co-director of the ERAU's LASMIR laboratory. She is currently a Steering committee member of the National Science Foundation's GEM program. Since 2015, Dr. Nykyri is the Space Physics Program Coordinator at ERAU.

Sarena Robertson

Sarena is a current senior in her final semester pursuing the Bachelor of Science degrees in Astronomy & Astrophysics and Computational Mathematics. Last Summer she was selected for the Nuclear Propulsion Officer program (NUPOC) in the United States Navy and will be based in Charleston, South Carolina as a Nuclear Submarine Prototype instructor. Currently, she works part-time through NASA Goddard Space Flight Center writing models for potassium emissions in the lunar exosphere. Recently she was awarded the Dr. John Mather Nobel Scholar award from NASA Goddard for her dedication to research in space science. Sarena has published work in the fields of physical oceanography and planetary science through various meetings and journals throughout her undergraduate studies. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in Applied Physics or Space Systems through Johns Hopkins' graduate program during her time as a Naval officer. In the long run, she would like to have the opportunity to serve as an astronaut on a future mission to Mars or the moon. Her most important aspects of life are family, faith, and freedom. On a day away from campus, you can find her at the beach, on a hike, or looking at the stars.


Mar 27th, 12:45 PM Mar 27th, 1:30 PM

Panel Discussion

Henderson Welcome Center