Physics Phenom Nominees 2015

Jacob Barandes

Jacob cares about students and thinks really hard to help students

Lisa Cacciabaudo

Lisa is super nice and helpful!

Stan Cotreau

My nominee has unbelievable impact on the lives our students, not only while they enjoy their time here at Harvard, but for the rest of the lives. His clear instruction ensures that all the knowledge they learn in the classroom is put to good, safe use in the lab, and in the world lab, long after they have left 02138. What is the use of vast knowledge if you don’t know how to apply it? Stan Cotreau has built a treasure in our basement where our students can learn the ultimate value of safety, precision, accuracy, and measurement. I am so grateful for his training, his firm and steady guidance, and all the essential values of safety he demonstrates and instills in our community. An unsung hero of sorts…may we always be so lucky to have such a dedicated leader looking out for the safety of our students.

Lisa Crossman

I would like to nominate Lisa Crossman because of her ability to manage several tasks with ease and efficiency. She provides thorough explanations, is patient, and a valuable asset to the Physics team. I am grateful for her kindness and support and believe she deserves this award and recognition for the wealth of work she is able to prioritize and complete in such a timely fashion with a smile and a sense of humor.

Carol Davis

Carol's worth to this department is not easily expressed, because what she does for so many of us is so very subtle. She is an ear when you don't know where to turn, a hug that makes everything better and a laugh when everything seems grey. You cannot quantify something like that, or measure what it shifts in people's moods, but it is like the grease that keeps the emotional stability of the department turning. Carol says what needs to be said, recognizes what needs to be recognized, and keeps us all on our toes. And we love every minute of it!


Carol is a unique fixture in the physics department.  She is one of the first people I remember meeting in the department who made me feel really welcome and made me want to come here.  Whether you need to process reimbursements or just want to have some snacks and talk to someone for a little while, Carol usually keeps her door open.  The department wouldn't be the same without her.


I nominate Carol Davis as a Physics Phenom. She is a team player who always pitches in to help with extra-ordinary department events, above and beyond her job description. She provides a listening ear to undergrads, grads, fellow staff and faculty, and represents the heart of the department. She is the longest serving staff member, and truly deserves this award.


She's an incredible source of support to the graduate students, and goes well out of her way to ensure their happiness.


Carol is there for the students in the good times and the bad. She'll listen to you and support you and help you figure out what to do about your problems. She reaches out to even very shy people and makes sure they feel at home in the department. It is a great comfort to know that whatever else is happening to you professionally and personally, there is a room in that hallway where you can go and be welcome and be yourself.

Wilhelm Engelbrecht

Wilhelm certainly met the definition of "above and beyond" this year - in fact he exceeded even that. In addition to working for his own faculty, Wilhelm also worked for the LPPC faculty while the LPPC faculty assistant position was vacant. Anyone who has worked with the LPPC group knows that there are a lot of nuances; Wilhelm was able to navigate those nuances and succeed. He was helpful, thoughtful, and competent. Additionally his work was always turned in on time, it was always organized, and it was almost always correct. Being able to lean on him during this 6 month period was extremely important and I am very thankful for his efforts.

Furthermore, Wilhelm took on project management responsibilities in the second half of the year. He is very much on top of those responsibilities and again, being able to count on him - especially given the deadline driven nature of the tasks - is invaluable.

There is no doubt that Wilhelm is deserving of the Physics Phenom distinction.

Colleen McMahon

Colleen McMahon is part of the finance team that helps to support the High Energy Theory Group among other Professors and Faculty Assistants. She is resourceful, kind and hardworking. It is a combination that I appreciate having in my work environment and I think this makes her a Physics Phenom.

Carolyn Moore

Carolyn has helped me above and beyond her capacity as an administrator. When I was struggling with graduate school she always listened. She reassured me and gave me the advice I needed. Carolyn is one of the major reasons I am still in graduate school. She deserves this award and far more.


Carolyn is always responsible for what she's doing and helps us with various things!


If the sky was falling over and if the ground was turn to dust, I would go to Carolyn. She always knows what to do and takes care of the problem regardless of her situation. It's a miracle how she manages. Graduate school would not have been possible if Carolyn wasn't there to take care of us.


Carolyn is very dedicated to her job. She definitely goes above and beyond what is required of her. Carolyn is very reliable and I feel I can always trust her. When I need to make an urgent purchase, she always gets it done on a very short notice. When it comes to reimbursement, she only requires us to submit the receipts without telling us that she's been filling out the reimbursement form for us. When she is sick, she always emails us and provide us a number to reach her for urgent matters. She leaves as much as administrative work to herself as possible and put in long hours, so that we graduate students are less burdened. Her dedication deserves a recognition from the department and I hope the Physics Phenom Award can be awarded to her this year.


Carolyn is kind, sweet, professional and nice to work with. As a postdoctoral fellow, I've received many helps ranging from buying major equipment to sending sample to our collaborators, all of which are vital to our research.

Jean O’Connor

Often overlooked and always under-appreciated in these days of electronic communication, the staff member in charge of our mail room, Jean O'Connor, goes above and beyond.

Whether the shipment is inbound or outbound, 100 pounds or 100 grams, Jean makes sure the shipping dock is manned, the packages are logged, and the notices sent out.  Jean, when the need arises, and on her own initiative and time will head to the UPS store after our dock is closed, to ensure that an important package gets out on time.

After years of student-run mail rooms at boarding school and undergrad, it is awesome to have a consummate professional handling our valuable cargo and correspondence.

Jan Ragusa

Jan always goes the extra mile beyond her job description to help students take care of administrative matters-- or even science mysteries! One example: she helped identify a piece of equipment by digging out a requisition from 1992. But more importantly she is always a kind listener, always encouraging us and making us feel welcome and cared for and like we're all part of a community, all in this together.