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Featured Alumni

Dr. William Shaw : Staff Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Heading link


Dr. William Shaw received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2016 and was a member of the research group of CDAC Academic Partner Dana Dlott. Will’s work focused on the development of tabletop shock compression experiments and the design of experiments for understanding chemical processes taking place under shock compression. Will joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory as a postdoctoral fellow and has been a Staff Scientist at LLNL since 2019.

Currently, Will is Deputy Group Leader within the Reaction Dynamics Group and carries out experiments as part of the Energetic Materials Center at LLNL. His research interests focus on material aging, compatibility, and performance of initiation train components. This includes the development of energetic formulations, accelerated aging capabilities and test fire diagnostics. Will’s overarching goal is to correlate various non-destructive techniques to elucidate the underlying material and chemical drivers that change material performance for new and existing high explosives.

Read more about Dr. Shaws work at LLNL here


Dr. Mingda Lyu joins Rigaku Innovative Technologies Heading link


Mingda Lyu, Dr. an alumni from the group of CDAC Academic Partner Susannah Dorfman at Michigan State University, has joined Rigaku Innovative Technologies as an Instrumentation Scientist. Lyu’s research focuses on R&D of X-ray optics and instrumentation.

Before joining Rigaku in June 2022, Dr. Lyu was a Postdoctoral Appointee at HPCAT, X-ray Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, and a Visiting Investigator at Earth & Planets Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science.

In his work at Rigaku, Dr. Lyu’s research uses a wide variety of techniques including X-ray imaging and tomography, single-crystal and powder XRD, X-ray spectroscopy, geochemical micro-analysis, high-pressure experiments, data reduction and modeling, scientific software development, parallel and high-performance computation, which have multidisciplinary applications in geochemistry, geophysics, planetary science, and material science.

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.