Home VanguardSTEM #WCWinSTEM: Nadya Mason, Ph.D.
#WCWinSTEM: Nadya Mason, Ph.D.

#WCWinSTEM: Nadya Mason, Ph.D.


This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Nadya Mason, experimental physicist.

As compiled by Chrystelle Vilfranc

Our #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Nadya Mason, full professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mason received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard University in 1995. She then completed her doctorate from Stanford University in 2001. She completed her postdoctoral research as a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows.  Dr. Mason joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an assistant professor in 2005, and was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and full professor in 2016. As a condensed matter experimentalist, Mason focuses on electron behavior in low-dimensional materials such as nanowires, graphene, and nano-structured superconductors. Her research is relevant to the fundamental physics of small systems, as well as to applications involving nano-scale electronic elements.

Mason is an experimental physicist with a focus on the physics of materials. She studies the quantum mechanical properties of very small material which are so small that electrons can be observed as both particles and waves. Mason enjoys thinking about how microscopic particles (like electrons) can interact to create macroscopic behavior. When asked why experimental physics, Mason says, “it’s also motivating to think that some of the novel behaviors we uncover might someday be useful in future devices or applications.”

At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Mason teaches and runs a rigorous research program. Mason works to increase diversity in the physical sciences, embracing opportunities to encourage and mentor aspiring scientists from underrepresented groups and to promote a welcoming climate within the field. Dr. Mason was a recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2007. She was named a 2008 Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education magazine. She received the Denise Denton Emerging Leader Award in 2009 and the Maria Goeppert Mayer Award of the American Physical Society (APS) in 2012. She currently serves as the American Physical Society’s (APS) Committee on Minorities. She also serves as a General Councillor of the APS.

Mason on Highlighting women of color in STEM

Mason feels it is truly important to highlight women of color in STEM for a few reasons. We need to be seen. It shows that we are integrated, productive members of the scientific community. Rather than remaining hidden or marginalized, “we become role models for everyone in the field.” It is necessary for #WOCinSTEM to be celebrated and revealed to the world. Mason says, “there are so few of us, people get the impression that we are like unicorns – either non-existent or magical.” We are far from non-existent, but I find women of color to be quite magical. However, as Jesse Williams says, “Just because we’re magic, doesn’t mean we’re not real.”

Thank you, Dr. Mason for all that you contribute to the world of experimental physics! We appreciate all that you bring to #STEM! 

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