Alumni Updates


John Puckett 


“I worked as a graduate student research assistant and laboratory manager from 2007-2010 for the Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences Department Remote Sensing Group (AOSS-RSG). My focus was on airborne, ground based and space borne passive microwave remote sensing hardware applications as well as geophysical retrieval and data analysis. In 2010, I received 2 master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. As soon as I graduated I started an internship at JST Corporation and after a few months they hired me fulltime as a concept design engineer. I can say that concepts from every physics class I took at NMU have manifested in my work at UofM and JST."


Rick Mengyan

​“I graduated from NMU in May of 2007 with a bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics and earned a master’s degree in the spring of 2009 from Texas Tech University. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate working on a few projects, but my main interest focuses on the investigation of the microscopic distribution of magnetic fields within magnetic semiconducting materials with the prospects of potential applications in spin electronics. If all goes well with my next round of experiments, I ought to be on track for graduation from Texas Tech University in the spring of 2012."  2014 update:  Rick has since graduated from Texas Tech University with his Ph.D. in physics.  He is now a post doctoral research associate at Texas Tech.  Read more


Micha Kilburn

“I currently am a graduate student at Michigan State University. My research is in experimental nuclear physics and I spend most of my time at the National Superconduct Micha Kilburning Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL)at MSU. Over the course of my time here, I’ve been heavily involved in service in the lab and physics department."




Ali Tasson

“I graduated from NMU in 2004 and in 2005 completed a master’s degree in physics at Indiana University in Bloomington. Shortly after that, I started working for Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center  as a medical physicist. In 2010, my husband, Jay Tasson, finished his Ph.D. at Indiana University. The job hunt that ensued following his graduation led me to a position with Procure Treatment Centers in Warrenville, Illinois, where I worked for two years.  I am now working at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.  I am a medical physicist for their proton therapy program, which will begin treating patients in 2015."



Daniel Welling

DanielWelling_tlarge.jpeg“I’m starting my third and final year as a post-doctorate at the Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. I work on numerical simulations of the Near-Earth space environment with a focus on examining the sources of magnetospheric plasma. I defended my thesis in November 2008, and graduated from NMU in May 2003”.




Shun Yanai

ShunYanai_tlarge.jpg​“I am moving to Delft University of Technology (Netherlands) for Doctoral study. The focus of the lab at Delft is to make electromechanical devices wiht graphene and carbon nanotubes. While a student at NMU, activities that I participated in as a member of the Physics Club were really fun, and the Physics courses that I took helped a lot as I continued my education. One of the reasons I chose NMU was that I really liked the location. The city is beautiful, and it's close to the lake."



Sam Towers

“I graduated from Northern Michigan University in December 2008. In the 09-10 school year I studied at Stony Brook University on Long Island gaining invaluable research experience. Now I am attending Western Michigan University to earn a Ph.D. in physics with an emphasis on astrophysics I have been able to experience many research opportunities such as studying young stars, galactic dynamics and stellar nucleosynthesis. My favorite experience so far is my 12 days of telescope time in Nobeyama, Japan. I also really enjoy teaching astronomy laboratory classes and hope to some day get a position at a small university, much like NMU, teaching and doing research.  The physics department at Northern provided a great environment to learn and prepared me for many of the classes I have to take now. The physics teachers at NMU showed great dedication to their students and to the art of teaching and I model myself after those experiences. I consider my time at Northern as some of the best years of my life."



Sam and Robert Towers


Update:  December 11, 2013.  Physics alums, Sam and Robert Towers, are the proud parents of their first child, William, who was born in Marquette.  Sam and Robert recently returned to live in the Marquette area.  They own Taiga Games, a board game store, located on Third Street in Marquette. Both Sam and Robert teach physics labs as adjunct instructors.



Brad Schoenrock

Brad graduated from Northern Michigan’s physics department in 2010, and is currently a graduate student at Michigan State University in East Lansing. There he is involved with ATLAS Experiment taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. He is analyzing data from the ATLAS detector to look for the signature of single top production in order to better understand the detectors functionality. He is also involved with an outreach project, producing a show for the Abram’s planetarium about what the LHC and the ATLAS Experiment are doing to further our understanding of physics.



Jay Tasson

JayTasson_tlarge.jpg“As a physics student at NMU from 1999 to 2003, my interests in science and in teaching turned into a strong appetite for learning more physics and for sharing it with others, which lead me to pursue acareer in academia. After graduating from NMU, I received my Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at Indiana University studying fundamental symmetries in the context of gravitation. I have taught physics atseveral institutions and am currently a visiting faculty member in the Physics Department at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. It is a pleasure to share physics with students both in the classroom and through participation in my ongoing research, and to continue participating in the close faculty-student interactions that I enjoyed at NMU." In 2008, the following research article was published: New Constraints on Torsion from Lorentz Violation V.Alan Kostelecky (Indiana University), Neil Russell (NMU), Jay Tasson (Indiana University) Physical Review Letters 100 (2008) 111102 (


Michael McDonald


Michael McDonald graduated from NMU's Physics Program in 1959. Throughout his career in physics he has worked for companies like the Naval Research and Development Lab and NASA. Click here to view more information about McDonald's career.




Robert Kruhlak

Robert Kruhlak graduated from NMU's Physics Program in 1993. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. in Physics from Washington State University in 2000. Kruhlak is currently a term limited lecturer and post-doctoral fellow in the Physics Department of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. Click here to view more information about Kruhlak's career.



Arika Egan

A 2015 NMU Physics graduate, Arika Egan will be working as an 'independent contractor' with the NASA Develop program for ten weeks from September 14th to November 20th. They have 15 offices nationally, and she will be working at one in Wise, VA.

She be learning and using GIS and remote sensing to understand various water systems all over the world.  The current project proposed for her region is analyzing various water cycles.  For example, monitor and estimate drought in Ethiopia and locate indicators to predict deadly storms in the African Great Lakes region.  Here's the list of projects:





If you are an NMU Physics Alumni and would like to be included on our web page, please send an email with a short biography and picture to