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Image of Paul Simmond's Research Group

Paul Simmonds, Ph.D.Image of Paul Simmonds, Assistant Professor MSE

Dr. Paul Simmonds completed his Ph.D. in semiconductor physics at the University of Cambridge, where he worked with Profs. David Ritchie and Michael Pepper. His research focused on the growth of thin III-V semiconductor films and nanostructures  by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) for studies of electron transport in low-dimensional, high-mobility materials. Dr. Simmonds moved to the US in 2007 to work as a postdoc, first with Prof. Christopher Palmstrøm at the University of Minnesota / UCSB and then, from early 2009, at Yale University with Prof. Minjoo Larry Lee. Dr. Simmonds’ research at Yale was chiefly based on his discovery that by using tensile strain it is possible to create III-V quantum dots on  (110) and (111) surfaces, with potential significance for the fields of quantum computing and spintronics. From September 2011 to September 2014, Dr. Simmonds managed the Integrated NanoMaterials Laboratory at UCLA. Working with Prof. Diana Huffaker, Dr. Simmonds oversaw research on two interconnected MBE tools configured to grow a range of different semiconductor materials for electronic and photonic applications. Dr. Simmonds was also Chair of  the IEEE Photonics Society, Los Angeles Chapter.

Dr. Simmonds joined Boise State University as Assistant Professor in October 2014, with a joint appointment in Physics and the Micron School of Materials Science & Engineering. He has been a Senior Member of the IEEE since 2016. Dr. Simmonds won the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2016, and the North American Molecular Beam Epitaxy Young Investigator award in 2018.

image of Christopher Schuck, Graduate Research AssistantChristopher Schuck

Graduate Research Assistant

Christopher is a graduate student in the Micron School of Materials Science & Engineering, working towards his PhD. He has a B.S. in Physics and Biotechnology with minors in Chemistry and Psychology from the University of Nebraska. While there he received a NASA Nebraska Space Grant Scholarship and the Vice Chancellor’s Outstanding Leadership Award.

He has also served in the United States Air Force in various capacities since 2001, including aircraft maintenance (Boeing E-4B and Fairchild Republic A-10), officer training, medical, and information technology.

His goals are to investigate the unknown mysteries of science and advance technology in so doing. Therefore, his research interests include the epitaxial growth and investigation of semiconductor quantum dots with possible applications in entangled-photon quantum encryption, spin-based quantum computing, and photonic devices.

Robin McCownimage of Robin McCown, Graduate Research Assistant

Graduate Research Assistant

Robin McCown is a Materials Science PhD student who started working with Dr. Simmonds in 2015. Before moving to Boise, she attended Baylor University, where she received her B.S. in 2008  and her M.S. in 2010 in chemistry synthesizing and characterizing organometallic carboranes.

At Boise State, her goal is to design and build tensile-strained quantum dots with a tunable bandgap. These will sense in the mid-IR and below and have potential applications in night vision, target identification, and trace gas monitoring.  She also would like to create a new class of nanoparticles called tensile-strained semimetallic nano-particles (TSSNs) by completely eliminating the bandgap from tensile-strained quantum dots.

Outside of the lab, Robin enjoys training mustangs and spending time doing other outdoor activities with her husband, Cameron.

Katie Sautterimage of Katie Sautter

Graduate Research Assistant

Katie started working with Dr. Paul Simmonds as a materials science and engineering graduate student in 2017. Prior to starting her graduate studies in Boise, she received a BS in materials science and engineering with Cum Laude distinction from Penn State University in 2017. During her undergraduate career, she interned for the III-V multijunction solar cell team at the National Renewable Energy Lab in 2016 and completed a Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Utah in 2015.

She is excited to delve into quantum mechanics and learn more about how materials engineering can alter the properties of a material. She is interested in investigating how tensile strain can shift the bandgaps of semiconductors and create a novel starting point for further engineering.

When not in school, Katie enjoys road cycling, hiking, walking, drawing, stargazing, and playing with dogs.

Kevin Vallejoimage of Kevin Vallejo

Graduate Research Assistant

Kevin Daniel Vallejo is a Ph.D. student in Material Science and Engineering at Boise State University. He completed his B.S. in Physics at The University of Texas at El Paso with minors in mathematics and philosophy. While completing his bachelor’s degree, Kevin received the Gilman Scholarship from the U.S. Department of State to study a semester in Turku, Finland.

His goals are to develop a better understanding of the composition and interactions between matter and energy, both in the theoretical and experimental aspects. 

During his free time Kevin enjoys the active reading and discussion of the philosophy of science, Latin and Greek classics as well soccer and basketball.

Simon Royimage of Simon Roy

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Simon Roy is an Idaho native, and an undergraduate in the Physics department. He is pursuing a B. S. with an emphasis in Applied Physics, and minors in Applied Mathematics and Materials Science. Simon has worked for the Physics department as a lab instructor, teaching assistant, and research assistant. Currently, in addition to his work at CEN, Simon is also involved in astrophysics research with Dr. Brian Jackson.

Simon’s goals at Boise State University are to accumulate as much knowledge as possible, gain valuable hands-on lab experience, and participate in exciting new research. Simon’s future goals include graduate school in Applied Physics or Materials Science.

Ariel Weltnerimage of Ariel Weltner

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ariel Weltner is an undergraduate student, pursuing a B.S. in the Micron School of Materials Science & Engineering. Ariel joined the CEN group in May of 2017 with the goal of expanding her research experience and becoming more involved in the Materials Science and Engineering field. Currently, Ariel enjoys working as a nanny and a tutor, and is passionate about encouraging youth of all ages to pursue interests in science-related fields.

At Boise State, Ariel is looking to gain more knowledge and experience of materials science, chemistry and physics, and to study the possibilities for manipulating atomic structures and characteristics to produce and utilize new material properties.

Trent Garrett

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Trent Garrett is an undergraduate student, pursing a B.S. in Physics. Trent has worked as a lab instructor in the Physics department and is currently working as a research assistant in the CEN group. In his free time, Trent enjoys watching Star Trek and learning about new computer hardware. Trent’s goal at Boise State is to take information from the classroom and apply it to research being done in physics and materials science. In the future, Trent hopes to pursue a graduate degree in materials science or physics. 

Administrative support

Jamie HaywardImage of Jamie Hayward , Administrative Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Materials Science & Engineering
phone: 208-426-5649 | office: ENGR 338



Former CEN members

Kenton BurnsImage of Kenton Burns, Undergraduate Research Assistant

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kenton graduated from Boise State University in Spring 2016 with a B.S. in Physics in the spring of 2016. While in the CEN, Kenton was instrumental in helping set-up the MBE system and get the lab ready for research. Kenton now works as a transmission electron microscope (TEM) engineer at Micron Technology in Boise.

Joseph Spinuzzi

Undergraduate Research Assistant

In spring 2017, Joe Spinuzzi graduated from Boise State University with a B.S. in Physics with emphases in Applied Physics and Astrophysics, and minors in Math and Materials Science.  While in the CEN Joe built and calibrated a Hall effect measurement system, and was awarded a HERC fellowship for his research. Joe also worked in Dr. Dmitri Tenne’s lab using Raman spectroscopy to determine structure and phase changes of different materials. Joe is now a graduate student in the physics department at University of California, Merced.

Carlos I. Cabreraimage of Carlos I. Cabrera

Visiting Graduate Research Assistant

Carlos I. Cabrera is a physics PhD graduate from the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, Mexico, who visited the CEN during Spring 2017 on a CONACYT scholarship. He has a B.S. and a M.S. in physics from the University of Havana, Cuba, in computational modeling of quantum heterostructure solar cells. While there he received an Academy of Science of Cuba Award in 2013.

While at Boise State University, Carlos gained research experience in the epitaxial growth and characterization of semiconductor materials. He also built computational models to support our research into self-assembled quantum dot nanostructures.

Ashlie Hushimage of Ashlie Hush

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ashlie Hush is an undergraduate in the Micron School of Material Science & Engineering, working towards a B.S. with a minor in Physics. She currently works at Micron Technology in the Research and Development Yield Enhancement Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory using multiple advanced characterization methods to supplement the development of new Micron products.

Her goals at Boise State are to gain as much research experience as possible, further enhance her skills in quantum mechanics and materials characterization, and explore the possibilities of quantum computing through molecular beam epitaxy. 

Austin Melloimage of Austin Mello

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Austin Mello is working towards his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Physics and plans to attend graduate school for Materials Science in the future. Joining the CEN group in February of 2017, Austin looks forward to learning more about possible applications of materials science and physics. Previously working as a chemistry and math tutor, Austin is currently working for Woodland Manufacturing as a metal technician.

His goals at Boise State are to gain as much knowledge as possible about materials science and physics, and to build skills involved in materials research. Austin has a deep love for science, chemistry in particular, and looks forward to applying that passion to his daily work life.

Kati Wadaimage of Kati Wada

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kati Wada is an undergraduate in the physics department working towards her B.S. in Physics with an Applied Mathematics minor.  Kati has worked with a few different research professors broadening her experience.  First in cosmology research, primarily shell scripting and writing Python code for Dr. Daryl Macomb.  She is also currently doing research for Dr. Dmitri Tenne doing Raman spectroscopy and data analysis, becoming proficient in Origin.  Kati is excited to now have the opportunity to work with Dr. Simmonds and the CEN group.  Kati is particularly interested in quantum mechanics and the use of physics in the material science field.  She is looking forward to attending graduate school for Materials Science to further her education and research.