Skip to main content Skip to navigation
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



Graduate Students

Devin Grabner

Office: Webster Physical Sciences 525

B.S. in Physics & Chemistry from Walla Walla University
M.S. in Physics from Washington State 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.

Acacia Patterson

Office: Webster Physical Science 529

B.S. in Physics from Oregon State University
M.S. in Physics from Washington State University

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



Harlan Heilman

Office: Webster Physical Science 521

B.S. in Physics from Northern Arizona University
M.S. in Physics from Washington State University

Investigating DFT models to simulate structural, optical and electrical properties of organic molecules.



Tanner Melody

Office: Webster Physical Science 529

B.S. Physics from San José State University

X-ray characterization of nanostructures and morphology of ternary organic photovoltaic devices.


Undergraduate Students

Elijah Allen
Chandler Ketelsen

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

  • Harlan Heilman M.S. (2024)
    Thesis: “Combining DFT based optical models with resonant X-ray reflectivity to measure orientation at buried interfaces​”
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at Washington State University Physics & Astronomy
  • Acacia Patterson M.S. (2023)
    Thesis: “Morphology-driven comprehensive charge loss analysis of organic photovoltaics processed with non-halogenated solvents​”
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at Washington State University Material Science and Engineering
  • Obaid Alqahtani Ph.D. (2023)
    Thesis: “Structure-Property Correlations in Heterojunction Organic Solar Cells Across Material Systems via Synchrotron X-ray Techniques”
    NOW: Professor of Physics at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University
  • Victor Murcia Ph.D. (2022)
    Thesis: “Development of tensor-based building block models with density functional theory calculations and clustering algorithms for a quantitative description of molecular orientation using near edge x-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy of small molecule and polymeric thin films”
    NOW: Senior Management and Program Analyst at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Fred Woodall M.S. (2022)
    Thesis: “Characterization and Optimization of Zinc Phthalocyanine Thin Films in Organic Solar Cells”
    NOW: Process Development Engineer at Corning Inc.
  • Awwad Alotaibi Ph.D. (2022)
    Thesis: “Accurate Measurement of Charge Generation at Interfaces of Organic Solar Cell Devices Printed from Non-Halogenated Solvents”
  • Tamanna Khan Ph.D. (2022)
    Thesis: “Controlling Ion Transport Pathways in Polymer Mixed Ion/Electron Conducting Devices”
    NOW: Quality and Reliability Engineer at Intel
  • Devin Grabner M.S. (2022)
    Thesis: “Label-Free Characterization of aPS50 Nanostructure, Chemistry, and Dynamics via In-Situ Resonant Soft X-Ray Scattering (RsoXS)”
    NOW: Ph.D. Candidate at Washington State University Physics & Astronomy
  • 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: Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • 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: Lead Model Validation Specialist 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

  • Chris Lum B.S. (2023)
  • Emma Speight B.S. (2023)
    NOW: Applied Physics MS Program at the University of Oregon
  • Derrick Adams B.S. (2023)
    NOW: Nuclear Engineer at the Naval Nuclear Laboratory
  • Hunter Gedicke B.S. (2022)
  • Catherine Martin B.S. (2022)
    NOW: Chemical Process Engineer with British Petroleum
  • Sierra Ray B.S. (2021)
  • 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: Military Officer for the United States Space Force
  • 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