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Featured Alumni

Mingda Lv joins HPCAT Heading link


Mingda Lv, a student from the group of CDAC Academic Partner Susannah Dorfman at Michigan State University, has joined the HPCAT team at the Advanced Photon Source as a postdoctoral researcher after receiving his Ph.D. in Earth and Environmental Sciences.

In his new postion, Mingda will participate the development of X-ray diffraction-contrast computed tomography (XRD-CT) for high-pressure materials characterization in three dimensions, and he will apply XRD-CT and other cutting-edge synchrotron techniques to continue the investigation of physical and chemical properties of materials under high pressure and temperature conditions.  His work will be aimed at understanding the structure, composition, formation, evolution, and dynamics of Earth and planetary interiors.

Funded by the Laboratory Directed Research & Development (LDRD) Program, Mingda will work in collaboration with scientists from XSD’s Materials Physics and Engineering and Computational X-ray Science groups to advance synchrotron X-ray diffraction techniques for next generation high-pressure research leveraging the enhanced spatial and temporal resolutions of the APS upgrade, which will begin in 2023.

Mingda’s graduate work was recently recognized with two prestigious awards from the American Geophysical Union (AGU).  He received the John C. Jamieson Student Paper Award from AGU’s Mineral and Rock Physics section for his recent paper, “Spin Transitions and Compressibility of ε-Fe7N3 and γ’-Fe4N: Implications for Iron Alloys in Terrestrial Planet Cores,” * as well as the Graduate Student Research Award from AGU’s Study of the Earth’s Deep Interior section.

* [M. Lv, et al., Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 124, 020660 (2020)]


Bethany Chidester Receives Director’s Fellowship at LANL Heading link


Congratulations to former CDAC student Bethany Chidester on receiving a Director’s Fellowship from Los Alamos National Laboratory.

During her graduate work, Bethany was a CDAC student at the University of Chicago, where she earned her PhD degree in the Department of the Geophysical Sciences.  Prior to her graduate studies, as an undergraduate at the University of Toledo, she participated in the summer internship program with CDAC staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

After a postdoctoral appointment at Sandia National Laboratories, Bethany has carried out postdoctoral research at the University of California, Davis.  For more on Bethany’s research, visit her website at

The CDAC community sends its congratulations to Bethany as she begins her new appointment in July 2021.


Samantha Couper Joins LANL as Agnew National Security Fellow Heading link


Samantha Couper, a graduate student from the group of CDAC Academic Partner Lowell Miyagi at the University of Utah, has joined the Shock and Detonation Physics group at Los Alamos National Laboratory as an Agnew National Security Fellow.

During her graduate studies, Samantha focused on understanding the deformation behavior of Earth materials at high pressures and temperatures using radial diffraction and dynamic diamond anvil cell techniques combined with laser heating.  In addition, she applied finite element simulation methods to the challenging problem of modeling multi-phase assemblages.  Samantha earned her PhD degree in 2021 with a dissertation entitled Application of Novel Methods for Investigating High Pressure and Temperature Deformation of Earth Materials.

At Los Alamos, Samantha will be continuing to exploit these techniques and build on her recent developments as she works to characterize the deformation of Group IV transition metals.  She is the 82nd graduate student to receive the PhD degree with CDAC support since 2003, and she is the 25th CDAC graduate student to carry out postdoctoral research at one of the NNSA laboratories.

For more on Samantha’s scientific interests, please see her Los Alamos National Laboratory profile.