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Department of Physics and Astronomy Collins Research Group


Principle Investigator

Brian A. Collins, Associate Professor

Phone: (509) 335-4671
Office: Webster Physical Science 523

Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. in Physics from Gustavus Adolphus College



Postdoctoral Researchers

None currently, but there will be a new position, hopefully opening soon.

Graduate Students

Victor Murcia

Office: Webster Physical Science 525

B.S. in Chemistry from Rochester Institute of Technology

Combining X-ray spectroscopy with Density Functional Theory calculations to develop an optical tensor and scattering model for the analysis and interpretation of polarized resonant soft X-ray scattering on molecular materials targeted for optoelectronic applications.

Awwad Alotaibi

Office: Webster Physical Sciences 529

B.S. in Physics from King Saud University
M.S. in Physics from Western Illinois University

Exploring morphological control of excited states and charge generation and recombination dynamics in organic solar cell devices.


Tamanna Khan

Office: Webster Physical Sciences 525

B.S. in Physics from the University of Dhaka
M.S. in Physics from University of Texas at El Paso

Investigating the effect of morphology on ion and charge transport in conducting polymers while developing in-operando resonant X-ray techniques to characterize these nano-structures during ion transport.

Obaid Alqahtani

Office: Webster Physical Sciences 521

B.S. in Physics from Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University
M.S. in Physics from Washington State University

Combining spectroscopy, microscopy, scattering, and diffraction for multimodal nanostructure characterization of organic solar cell active layer morphology using advanced resonant X-ray techniques.


Devin Grabner

Office: Webster Physical Sciences 525

B.S. in Physics & Chemistry from Walla Walla University

Development of a robust in-situ/in-operando nanoprobe sensitive to molecular identity, allowing for characterization of both structure and dynamical interactions of polymeric micelles and other nanostructures in liquid environments.


Fred Woodall

Office: Webster Physical Science 544-B

B.S. in Physics from Radford University

Determining optimal properties of organic solar cell devices by analysis of morphological, structural, and electronic properties of small organic molecules within thin-film samples prepared via physical vapor deposition (PVD).


Acacia Patterson

Office: Webster Physical Science 529

B.S. in Physics from Oregon State University

Investigating the morphological mechanism for the increased efficiency of ternary organic photovoltaics.





Undergraduate Students

Sierra Ray
Wasee Khan
Emma Speight


Post-Doctoral Alumni

  • Terry McAfee Ph.D.
    Post-Doc Work: Instrumentation Development for liquid in-situ/in-operando structural measurements of organic materials using Resonant Soft X-ray Scattering
    NOW: Senior Scientific Engineering Associate, APXPS and Chemical Sciences, Photon Science Operations at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
  • Prabodh Dhakal Ph.D.
    Post-Doc Work: Developing structure-property relationships in organic solar cell active layers by combining advanced resonant X-ray nanoprobes with optoelectronic characterization on the exact same devices

Graduate Alumni

  • Grant Thurman M.S. (2021)
    Thesis: “Building DFT Model for Y11.”
    NOW: Algorithm developer at Trace Soccer
  • Thomas Ferron Ph.D. (2019)
    Thesis: “Spectral model of resonant soft X-ray scattering to resolve molecule specific organization in 3D organic nanostructures.”
    NOW: NRC Postdoctoral Fellow at NIST
  • David Buckley M.S. (2017)
    Thesis: “Computational Modeling to Determine Molecular Orientation at Buried Interfaces in Polymer Thin Films”
    NOW: Physics Professor – Lab Specialist at Gonzaga University
  • Michael Pope M.S. (2017)
    Thesis: “Using resonant X-ray scattering to determine how structure controls the charge generation process in PCPDTBT:PC70BM solar cells.”
    NOW: Analyst at Discover Financial Services
  • Obaid Alqahtani, M.S. (2016)
    Thesis: “Probing nanostructure of organic films and photovoltaics via synchrotron X-ray techniques.”
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at Washington State University Materials Science and Engineering
  • Qun Lu, M.S. (2016)
    Thesis: “Calibration and automation of AAA solar simulator and external quantum efficiency measurement of organic photovoltaic devices.”

Undergraduate Alumni

  • Cameron Bennett B.S. (2020)
  • Jacob Hastings B.S. (2020)
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Connecticut Physics
  • Kyle Norbert, B.S. (2020)
    NOW: M.S. Candidate at U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology
  • Zachary Croft, B.S. (2018)
    NOW: DOE SULI Researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Michael Anderson, B.S. (2018)
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at University of Arizona Materials Science and Engineering
  • Keith Hillaire, B.S. (2017)
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at North Carolina State University Physics Department
  • Matthew Waldrip, B.S. (2017)
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate: Wake Forest University Physics Department
  • Eric Beier, B.S. (2015)
    NOW: US Navy