Alumni Spotlight

Featured Story:

Scott Courts, 82′ –  Dr. Scott Courts is an Applications Scientist at Lake Shore and has been active in the field of cryogenics for more than 30 years. Dr. Courts received his BSc in Physics from Marshall University and a Ph.D. in Experimental Solid State Physics from The Ohio State University in 1988. While at OSU, he studied the transition to superfluid turbulence in two-fluid flow of helium-II. In 1989, Dr. Courts joined Lake Shore as a Senior Scientist in our Sensor R&D Division. In this position, much of his focus was on developing thin-film thermometer materials exhibiting high ionizing radiation tolerance and low magnetoresistance offsets for use in accelerator applications. This work led to the development of Lake Shore Cernox™ sensors. Dr. Courts then moved to Lake Shore’s manufacturing engineering group in 2001 to fill the role of Applications Scientist and work on improving sensor products, processes, and testing. He has also served as Technical Director for Lake Shore’s thermometer calibration facility and worked to extend the calibration range capabilities to its current 20 mK lower limit and up to 900 K at the upper end. Currently, he serves as a metrologist/scientist with the responsibility of maintaining Lake Shore’s traceable thermometry scales. A member of the American Physical Society and on the Board of Directors for the Cryogenic Society of America, Dr. Courts has published more over 40 articles on cryogenics/thermometry and served as a reviewer for various journals and proceedings. He has also taught short courses on cryogenic thermometry and instrumentation in both public and private settings for the past 25 years.

Outside of work, Dr. Courts performs physics demonstrations for science classes at local schools, serves as an adult leader for a local Boy Scouts of America troop, is a singer/guitarist in a rock and roll oldies band, and has taught as an adjunct professor in the Physics Department at Otterbein University.

Tony Hernandez, 10′  I graduated with a undergraduate degree in Physics and one in Applied Mathematics from Marshall in Spring 2010. I finished a masters degree in math Spring 2012. I now teach physics (general and AP), various maths (calc 3, statistics, algebra), and computer programming at the Highlands Latin School in Louisville, KY. I am also serving as a soccer coach for our high school team, a youth minister for our church, and teaching math for Boyce College. Katie (wife) and I have had 3 daughters: Eliana age 4, Atalia age 2, and Elenora age 1. We plan to serve the Eli House Mission in San Luis, Rio Colorado, Mexico next year as the director of operations.

The Hernandez Family Fall 2017:
Katie, Tony, Elenora (Nora, 1).
Atalia (Tata, 2), Eliana (4).


 Shannon Durfee (Shannon McKinney), 08′  – I graduated with my B.S. in Physics from Marshall University in 2008, where I was also a Yeager Scholar.  I started calculus based physics my very first freshman semester, which gave me a bit of a head start and allowed me to take more upper-level classes later on that were not offered every year.  With such small classes, I grew close to several professors.  Notably Dr. Oberly, who was my adviser and was also involved in the Yeager Program, and Dr. Nguyen, who taught nearly all of my upper level classes.  Dr. Oberly went above and beyond for me academically and personally–but I wasn’t special in that regard, he would do that for anyone.  Dr. Nguyen’s ability to balance research and dedication to instruction, and her personal warmth made a huge impression on me and continues to inspire me to this day.  And of course Dr. Orsini was there to push me when I needed it.  I was also very involved in SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, and completed an REU at Indiana University the summer of my junior year.

Upon graduation, I was unsure what to do next, but only because I felt like a physics degree gave me an overwhelming number of options!  I decided to stay at Marshall and work in the department for a while to give myself time to make a decision, but still be in an academic environment.  It was during these years that my grandfather developed cancer and by taking him to his radiation treatments, I learned about the field of medical physics.  After two years working in the department, I applied to the Medical Physics graduate program at Columbia University.  My education from Marshall Physics served me very well, even at an ivy league school.  I completed my graduate studies in 2013 and was offered a job back in Huntington.  Since 2013 I have become recognized by the American Board of Radiology as a boarded Therapeutic Medical Physicist (DABR).  I currently work at both local hospitals in the Radiation Oncology departments as a radiological physics consultant.

Steven Taylor ’06 – I am currently a Family Medicine Physician at the HSHS Medical Group in O’Fallon IL. I completed medical school at the Marshall University JCE School of Medicine in May 2006, then Residency at the 375th Medical Group Scott AFB/Saint Louis University School of Medicine as a Chief Resident in 2013. Since then, I have served as a Major in the USAF and Medical Director of Langley Family Medicine. I have completed a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Inherent Resolve/Freedom’s Sentinel. I have now separated from active duty and joined a practice in O’Fallon Illinois for full scope outpatient Family Medicine. My lovely and brilliant wife, Megan Collins, and I met in the physics department at Marshall. Both of us became close with Dr. Oberly with his constant support of the department and I worked with Dr. Wilson in collaboration with the American Foundation for the Blind. ~ Steven Taylor, MD

Steven Taylor’s career has been laced with over a dozen awards from his most recent the Air Force Meritorious Service & Air Force Commendation Medal (2017) to his earliest awards earned at Marshall, the Brigadier General Charles “Chuck” Yeager Scholarship at Marshall University and Sigma Pi Sigma Physics Honorary Member (2008).

Kelly Yannizzi, ’05– I graduated with a B.S. in Physics from Marshall in 2000. I subsequently attended medical school at Marshall from 2001 to 2005. I completed my first year of post graduate training at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD in 2006. I then completed a nearly 4-year tour as a General Medical Officer with a US Marine Corps Unit based out of Beaufort, SC. During that time, I deployed to Iraq twice as a Senior Medical Officer in charge of 30+ Medical Officers and Corpsmen (medics). I also met and married my husband. I completed post graduate training in Family Medicine at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC in 2012. Subsequently, I transferred to Millington, TN where I led a department of military and civilian medical staff in providing primary care to active duty and retired military service members as well as their families. I transitioned from an active duty Naval Officer to a reservist in 2015. I continue to practice Family Medicine in the Memphis, TN area.

I really enjoyed majoring in physics at Marshall. Having small classes directly led by approachable professors was a huge asset for me. The critical thinking skills that I developed during that time has served me well in virtually every role I’ve played since- physician, leader, investor, parent, homeowner, etc. I was a member of the Marshall University Tennis team and also enrolled in the Honors College as John Marshall Scholar throughout my undergraduate years. I was still able to achieve a great balance between my various academic and athletic responsibilities. And, yes, I still had plenty of time for fun! I would definitely recommend pursuing a physics degree to current and future Marshall students – the pursuit itself, as well as the result, would be quite rewarding.

Thank you,
Kelly Yannizzi MD (maiden name Kelly Peller)

Chad Mitchell, ’91 – I am a diagnostic medical physicist working for a consulting firm in Maryland, Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania and eastern West Virginia. My career has followed a circuitous path, but I have been able to see some pretty cool stuff along the way.

I got my bachelors in physics and math from Marshall in 1991, and I immediately went to graduate school at Ohio State. As I progressed through my studies at OSU, I realized that I never really found a passion for my research (detector development in experimental nuclear physics), and I frequently found myself thinking back to a course in medical physics and radiation safety taught by the late Dr. Manakkil. So, I started volunteering at the James Cancer Hospital and Research Institute and immediately realized that medical physics brought together fascinating challenges with a sense of accomplishment and service to others.

After committing to a career in medical physics, I left graduate school as a Ph.D. candidate and tried my luck on the job market. Unfortunately, I was unable to get any interviews when I had so little job experience. It was at that point that I decided to call a Navy recruiter. After a year of paperwork and interviews, I began my naval career in 1996, initially working in clinical medical physics in military hospitals. Over the next 20 years, my career expanded to include deployments on aircraft carriers, emergency preparedness in shipyards, homeland security-related research and humanitarian assistance efforts in Japan following the tsunami of 2011. Also, along the way, I was awarded a Navy fellowship to return to OSU to finish my Ph.D., this time in biomedical engineering studying RF coil design in ultra-high field (8 Tesla) Magnetic Resonance Imaging.

While my naval career covered a wide variety of radiation-related work, my principal interest was always in diagnostic medical physics, and that has been my full-time career since retiring in 2016 at the rank of Commander. The demand for diagnostic medical physicists has exploded since I began my career in the 1990s because insurance reimbursements, in recent years, require quality control and dose optimization under the direction of a medical physicist.

Chad A. Mitchell, Ph.D., DABR
Medical Physicist

Dear Alumni! Please let us know what you are up to!

If you have graduated from the Physics Department (or the once Department of Physics and Physical Sciences) in the BS program, Physics 9-Adult Comprehensive program, or the Master’s program in Physical and Applied Science, please drop us a line a tell us what you are currently doing. We would also like to know how your experiences and interactions with the faculty and staff in the Department and/or College of Science (and/or your overall experience in general when you were here at Marshall) has influenced you and your current career. Please send any correspondence to:

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