After Lewis & Clark

Alumni follow a wide variety of career paths that include becoming a professor of physics, an industrial physicist, a patent attorney, or a medical doctor. Many students also pursue our pre-engineering program and become successful engineers. Several specific examples are listed below.

  • Benjamin Kolligs ’17 is a robotics engineer at Fuerst Group.
  • Katie Kowal ’17 was a science and technology policy fellow at the Institute for Defense Analyses: Science and Technology Policy Institute and is now pursuing graduate work in the U.K. after being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship in 2018.
  • Irene Duba ’17 is pursuing a PhD in biophysics at the Rockefeller University.
  • Katie Grohe ’16 is an engineer at SRC in San Antonio.
  • Alaina Greene ’13 is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland.
  • Miriam Robinson ’12 is a software engineer at Performance Logic.
  • Ethan Vella ’09 is a senior mechanical engineer at Simplexity Product Development.
  • Owen Kenton ’08 earned an MS in medical physics from the University of Pennsylvania and currently is a clinical instructor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Dmitri Gurkins ’05 is director of product development at Rouse Analytics.
  • Scooter Johnson ’05 is a research physicist at the United States Naval Research Laboratory.
  • Jeremy Wilson ’01 earned a PhD in physics from the University of Rochester and a JD from Columbia University and is currently a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, LLP.
  • Robert Bristol ’95 is an applied physicist at Intel.
  • Adam Johnston ’94 is a professor of physics at Weber State University.

Below you will find bios and pictures of former physics students who have gone on to do some pretty exciting things after leaving Lewis & Clark. In their own words”¦

Chris Scheffler ’10

Chris Scheffler grew up in Eureka, California in coastal Humboldt County. He came to Lewis & Clark in the fall of 2006, seeking an intimate education that was well rounded in subject matter, social activities, and athletics. During his time at LC, Chris was involved with Cross Country and Track on campus and spent many days snowboarding at Mt. Hood off campus. He was also drawn to LC because of its Study Abroad programs and was a member of the first trip to Greece and Turkey in 2007. He was involved with both the Physics and Mathematics departments, working as a summer researcher, teacher’s assistant, and tutor. He also served as the Physics Club President, where he helped to revive the group. 

In the end, Chris completed a double major of Physics and Mathematics & Computer Science. After a 6 month internship at FEI Company in nearby Hillsboro, he was recruited to work for Intel Corporation at their main headquarters in Santa Clara, California; where he is still today. Chris has spent most his time working in industrial research and development, primarily around the area of charged particle beam systems and has been an invited speaker and co-author for various entities and conferences.

In his free time, Chris is very active with traveling, enjoying the outdoors, and a great group of friends. After arriving at LC having only visited two states and no other countries, he has now visited over twenty states and a dozen countries across the globe. He currently lives in Sunnyvale, California.

Chris was recently elected to the Board of Alumni in 2015 and is looking forward to giving back to the College in new ways. He is most interested in improving the connection between the college’s strong scientific departments and industry, as well as increasing young alumni involvement with the college

Adam Johnston

I graduated from Lewis & Clark in 1994 and headed off to graduate school at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City the following fall.  Having grown up in Oregon, I thought spending a few years in a rocky mountain state with powdery snow and blue skies in the middle of the winter would be a fun change.  And, the programs offered at the U in medical and solid state physics gave me a lot of exciting choices.  I’d worked with Michael Broide in biological physics and John Abele in solid state and these seemed like great choices to have available.  I had a funny turn, though.  I always knew I wanted to have a professional emphasis in teaching physics, but once I was a graduate student, a teaching assistant actually having the duties of teaching, I had a big shift in my research interest and I found a way to earn my MS in physics and a PhD in science education.  I had advisors from across the university to do this, earning degrees from two different sides of the campus.  A couple years into this hybrid program, I got a temporary teaching gig at Weber State University, a public university with a focus on undergraduates in Ogden, 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.  I ended up doing my dissertation research on a course and some science students at Weber and, as luck would have it,  the physics department happened to have a tenure-track faculty opening in physics education at the same time I was working there.  I ended up applying for and getting this position at the same time that I was finishing my doctoral work in 2000.  Now, I’m a professor in the physics department at Weber State — so much for a “temporary” move to Utah — where I get to teach physics and science education courses.  I do research in science learning and have built up a program of outreach to local schools and teachers.  I’ve also done a few fun extra things like co-creating a conference in science education a few years ago (see and a program where my students and I go to public parks to “play” with kids by bringing science activities to them during the summer.  My favorite activity, though, is still teaching physics.

Robert Bristol

After finishing his degree at LC (”˜95), Robert retraced the footsteps of several of the LC faculty and found himself at UC Berkeley as a graduate student in physics.  Armed with years of tutelage under Professor John Abele in the Solid State Lab, Robert was able to quickly begin contributing in experimental Extreme UV astrophysics at Cal.  He then went on to obtain a PhD in physics in 2000 in the field of fluid dynamics, researching instabilities in certain classes of vortex flows.  But it was his astrophysics work that landed him a job at Intel Corp., working on assignment at the Sandia National Laboratory on light sources for emerging technology of EUV lithography.  Soon after, he found himself back in Oregon, working across town from LC at Intel’s research chip fabrication facility in Hillsboro.  He now spends his time in an applied research laboratory testing novel lithography materials received from collaborators around the world.  He lives with his wife Aliyih Bristol (ne’ Aliyih Conway ”˜95, LC Music) and two young boys near one of his favorite LC haunts, Forest Park.

Scott Henderson

Since graduating from LC, I’ve found an easy transition into the field of geophysics. Immediately after graduating I found a great job in the Portland area at the Cascades Volcano Observatory where I studied debris-flows. The work inspired me to pursue and advanced degree in geophysics and I’m currently going into my second year in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University. My plan is to figure out certain physical conditions and mechanisms that govern volcanic eruptions, and in the meantime get a PhD. I recently received a grant from NASA to support my research at a site in SW Bolivia. I’m very excited about this opportunity and I know that it wouldn’t be possible without the excellent preparation in undergraduate research while at LC. You really can’t go wrong with a physics degree, if you’re considering it, go for it!

Andrew Dittmore

I continued with research at Lewis & Clark and used my physics education to study gecko adhesion. Through a self-assembly process, nature achieves a material that is hierarchal in structure and capable of directional and reversible bonding. I discovered that adhesion in gecko toes is directly related to the shear force applied while climbing, so that geckos are able to modulate the strength of attachment and release their toes with minimal effort. The beauty of this system inspired me to pursue graduate work in biophysics and continue learning from nature. In preparation for graduate school, I decided to supplement my physics education with engineering courses, which soon led to my next job as an engineering instructor at Portland Community College. This initial experience, combined with teaching physics lab sections at Lewis & Clark, made me want to become a professor. I am currently a 3rd year graduate student in the materials department at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I study biological systems at the single-molecule level. Specifically, I use force to probe mechanical and chemical transitions in single proteins by directly manipulating each molecule with “magnetic tweezers.”

Katie Clarkson 

Katie Clarkson joined the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Portland Regional Office in June of 2005 after an internship in FERC’s New York Regional Office.  Prior experience includes participating in a research trip to Honduras to study water quality, traveling to Thailand with the group Engineers Without Borders to work on a village water supply system, and two years of national service as an AmeriCorps Volunteer working at the City of Portland Water Bureau and a Portland-based nonprofit.  Katie earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Columbia University and BA in Physics from Lewis & Clark College.

Owen Kenton

I am a 2008 graduate of Lewis & Clark College with a degree in physics.  After graduating I held several seasonal jobs in the Portland area before deciding to join the United States Peace Corps.  I served as a volunteer in the country of Tanzania, leaving in the summer of 2009 and returning in 2011.  While there I taught secondary school physics and math.  The classes I taught ranged from introductory high school level to introductory college level.  I also worked in health education and teacher development.  Life in the Peace Corps was extremely challenging and rewarding.  While I may not have changed all my student’s lives, I know that I encouraged some to continue their education and hopefully look at the world in a different way.  My work would not have been possible without the education I received from Lewis and Clark.  The professors in the physics department produced fun, hands-on physics classes that inspired me to do the same for my students.  Furthermore, the liberal arts background helped me deal with the culture differences seen while living in another country.

After finishing my service, I lived in Washington, DC and worked for the State Department before deciding to go back to school in the summer of 2012.  Currently I am a student at the University of Pennsylvania.  I am pursuing a degree in Medical Physics with a focus on Radiation Therapy.  I am attracted to this line of work because it allows me to continue helping others by making cancer treatment safer.  This applied field of physics will give me the flexibility to work in hospitals around the country, and world.  Sometime in the future I hope to continue working overseas, helping countries develop cancer treatment centers.   In the fall of 2013 I will finish my degree.

If you are considering the field of physics or just interested in taking a few classes, I would encourage you to do so with this department.  The people there have encouraged and inspired me to be what I am today.

Brenna Gillman

After graduating from LC in 2003, I started a graduate PhD program in Physics at the University of Utah.  While there, I continued with course work, and was able to work as a teaching assistant until I decided what to do for a PhD project.  After finding the right research advisor and group, I started working on a project studying possible synchronization of miniature hermoacoustic engines.  I successfully found a way to couple the thermoacoustic engines so that there was maximal acoustic signal and power output that when used in conjunction with an acoustic transducer, allowing for effective conversion of sources of heat to acoustic energy, and finally into electrical signal.  After completing a Masters degree in 2007, and a Doctoral degree in 2009 from the University of Utah, I was offered a faculty position at Western Governors University in secondary science teacher education, where I am currently working in distance learning and helping to educate and inspire the next generation of Physics teachers.  My time at LC taught me not only the fundamental principles of Physics that I use everyday in teaching, but it taught me how to think critically and how to solve problems.

Devesh Khanal

After Lewis & Clark I directly entered the PhD program in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  As of Fall 2009, I am in my fifth year at Berkeley doing experimental and theoretical research on semiconductor nanowires and hope to graduate by summer of 2010.  Post-graduation plans include jobs in industry and technology-focused venture capital firms.

Kjell Schroder

I landed a job right after graduation that started the summer of 2008.  I worked for a small intellectual property law firm, Alleman, Hall, McCoy, Russell and Tuttle, and I helped all different types of companies and individuals obtain patents.  The school to work transition was not the easiest, but I used my degree every day doing analytical thinking, drafting legal correspondence and mining my physics knowledge to try and understand how stuff works. 

In fall of 2010, I began a PhD program, and I am a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin in the field of Materials Science and Engineering.

Calling all physics alumni! What have you been up to since graduation? Start an interesting job? Discover a hidden talent? Used your liberal arts experience and degree to better the world? Adopt a cat? We’d love to know!