PAW+ Officers

President –Källan  Berglund


Källan Berglund is a fourth year physics grad student at Penn State, researching quantum gravity. She graduated with Honors in Astrophysics from Brown University in 2016, with a thesis on the black hole firewall paradox. She is currently part of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, researching black hole entropy as part of her work on canonical gravity. She is also a martial artist, dancer, and artist





Treasurer –  Sakon, Shio


Shio is a second-year physics graduate student at Penn State and a member of the LIGO Collaboration. Currently, she is researching gravitational waves under Professor Chad Hanna. She earned her bachelor’s degree from International Christian University (Tokyo, Japan) in 2019, where she majored in physics and minored in education. She hopes to contribute to the field of gravitational wave and multimessenger astrophysics, as well as science education. In her free time, she enjoys photography.


Outreach Chair –  Unnati Akhouri


Unnati Akhouri, graduate student in physics, is interested in uncovering the fundamental underpinnings of our universe. In particular she is interested in developing an understanding of the small, quantum mechanics, the big, gravity, and the bridge between them through research in quantum gravity. She has previously worked as a science communicator at Cactus Communications and independently sketches comics on physics (phy-mics) on her website ‘Fatal Physics.’ She hopes to contribute to the field of fundamental science as well as education; to use her knowledge and excitement to impart the same in others.

Akhouri completed her bachelor’s in physics from the University of Delhi and a Masters in mathematical and theoretical physics from the Universtiy of Oxford, UK.


 Professional Development Chair – Gianni Sims


Picture of Gianni Sims

Gianni Sims is a senior undergraduate student who is an astrophysics major with a minor in philosophy. She is interested in theoretical astrophysics and is currently working on the topic of loop quantum gravity for research. Gianni is also interested in writing, which is why she is the treasurer of the Creative Writing Club.





Social Events Chair – Meghan Tanner


Meghan is a fourth year graduate student doing research in particle astrophysics under Miguel Mostafa. She works on the HAWC (High Altitude Water Cherenkov) Observatory, an array of 645 light-tight water tanks fitted with photomultiplier tubes on a mountain near Puebla, Mexico. These tanks detect cosmic and gamma rays through a process known as Cherenkov radiation, which produces a cone of light similar to a sonic boom. She earned her bachelor’s degree in traditional and applied physics from Lock Haven University in 2017. In her free time, Meghan enjoys running, reading, and practicing her culinary skills.




Fundraising Chair – Rachael Huxford


Rachael is a third year physics grad student at Penn State, researching gravitational waves. She graduated with Honors in Physics and a minor in Theatre from Towson University in 2018. She is currently a member of the LIGO Collaboration, researching gravitational waves from neutron stars. In her free time, she stage manages with local theatres, plays video games, and runs her scrunchie-making business.





Webmaster – Yanan Li


Yanan Li is a third-year physics grad student at Penn State, researching condensed matter physics. In particular, she works on molecular beam epitaxy growth of two dimensional superconductors in Prof. Nitin Samarth’s group. She got her bachelor’s degree from Qingdao University, China, and a master’s degree from Peking University (PKU), China. During her free time, she likes to play squash.


Webmaster – James Kennington


James Kennington, graduate student in physics, is interested in quantum gravity and mathematical physics. He hopes to apply his computational experience from industry to numerical approaches within quantum gravity and cosmology. He previously used gravitational-microlensing techniques to study quasar systems at the United States Naval Academy. A reference described him as “well read, well spoken, courteous and thoughtful, and capable of exceptional independent work on open-ended problems.” Kennington completed his bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Texas at Austin.




Faculty Advisor – Doug Cowen



Doug is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy & Astrophysics and who works in the field of experimental particle astrophysics.  He has taught all of the Physics 21x introductory courses at one time or another, and relishes the challenge of making those large lecture classes effective and enjoyable for the students who take them.  For most of his professional career Doug has studied neutrinos.  During the past 15 years or so he has been working on the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and its predecessor AMANDA, both located under the icecap at the South Pole.  He is leading the US effort to build an IceCube in-fill array called PINGU that will enable us to measure, for the first time, a fundamental property of neutrinos known as the “neutrino mass hierarchy.”  He also works on AMON, a virtual observatory project at Penn State that we hope will open up the field of multimessenger astronomy.  Doug also loves tea (second flush Darjeeling from Boston Tea Campaign!), is a vegetarian, and doesn’t get to go swimming as often as he’d like.