Katherine Brown (Jones-Smith), Assistant Professor of Physics

B.S., University of New Mexico; M.S. and Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University
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Areas of expertise: fractal analysis of Jackson Pollock drip paintings

Kate Brown is a theoretical physicist who studies cosmology, fundamental physics and interdisciplinary science. Her first publication appeared in Nature and debunked claims that fractal analysis could be used to identify authentic drip paintings by Jackson Pollock. Since then Brown has published (under maiden name Jones-Smith) on diverse topics such as gravitational radiation arising from cosmological phase transitions, mathematical analogies between ordinary conducting materials and certain models of dark energy, and non-Hermitian theories of quantum mechanics. She earned her doctorate at Case Western Reserve University in 2010 and went on to a postdoctoral research position at Washington University in St. Louis. Prior to joining Hamilton she held visiting appointments at Oberlin College and Reed College.

Kristen Burson, Assistant Professor of Physics


Kristen Burson has conducted research on the atomic scale structure of glass at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, Germany through an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship. She earned her master's degree and doctorate from the University of Maryland, where she studied the surface structure and properties of novel materials for nanoelectronics using scanning probe microscopy.  Burson then taught physics for a year at Gettysburg College as a visiting assistant professor. In addition to her scientific interests, she has published on students’ perceptions of office hours and has been involved in physics education outreach, particularly focused on promoting women in physics. Burson grew up in Nebraska and received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

Brian Collett, the Winslow Chair in Greek, Latin, or Modern Science (Physics) and Acting Chair, Physics

B.A. and M.A., University of Cambridge; Ph.D., Princeton University
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Areas of expertise: computational and electronic projects, and the development of programs to help teach aspects of physics

Since 2000 Brian Collett has been collaborating with Hamilton's Gordon Jones on projects in nuclear physics. Their work has included the development of compact 3He neutron spin filters for use in neutron scattering, and they are participants in the aCORN experiment, studying neutron decay at the National Institutes of Standards and Technologies. They are responsible for the magnetic and electric fields in the experiment and have contributed extensively to the data collection and analysis. Before coming to Hamilton in 1986, Collett was a staff fellow at the National Institutes of Health and a visiting assistant professor of physics at Mt. Holyoke College. He received a doctorate from Princeton University.

Viva Horowitz, Assistant Professor of Physics

BA, Swarthmore College; PhD, University of California Santa Barbara

Viva R. Horowitz built dynamic artificial cells as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard and designed optomechanical gyroscopes as a postdoctoral research scholar at Caltech. Horowitz earned her Ph.D. in physics at UC Santa Barbara, where she built a new tool for magnetic imaging using the quantum bits in optically levitated nanocrystals of luminescent diamond. She graduated with her B.A. in physics from Swarthmore College and is excited to return to the community of a small liberal arts college.

Gordon Jones, the Litchfield Professor of Astronomy

B.A., Williams College; M.A., Princeton University; Ph.D., Princeton University
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Areas of expertise: neutron spin filters and angular correlations in neutron decay

Gordon Jones' research interests include using neutrons to study fundamental symmetries and polarizing neutrons for use in materials science. On the fundamental side, Jones studies time reversal symmetry and weak interactions in nuclei. On the applied side, he builds devices used to understand magnetic materials such as the read heads in computer hard drives. He has published papers in journals such as the Physical Review C, Journal of Applied Crystalography and Magnetic Resonance in Medicine. Jones previously worked as a NRC post-doc, NIST and a visiting scientist at Indiana University. He earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Princeton University.

Seth Major, Chair, Professor of Physics

B.A., Swarthmore College; M.S., Syracuse University; Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
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Areas of expertise: quantum gravity, quantum geometry, general relativity and quantum gravity phenomenology

Seth Major's research is in quantum gravity, a field of theoretical physics devoted to finding the deep structure of spacetime, and in the phenomenology of quantum geometry. Recently Major has focused on possible observable consequences of quantum gravity, particularly on how granular spatial geometry might be indirectly observed. He has worked on the quantum deformation of quantum gravity, causal sets, operators in quantum gravity and modified dispersion relations. Major was a Lise Meitner Fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Vienna and taught at Swarthmore and Deep Springs colleges. He earned a doctorate in theoretical physics from Pennsylvania State University.