Success Stories

Success Stories

Alissa Earle, 2013 - Astronomy


The thing that really sets Siena apart is the student/faculty relationship. During my four years in the physics department, I rarely encountered a closed door, didn't have to schedule appointments in advance, knew pretty much every professor in the department by the end of my freshmen year, and spent well into the triple digits worth of hours in airports/planes/vans with faculty members.  This has given me a level of comfort and confidence in talking to faculty members that I do not see in many of my peers from other institutions.

Her Siena Journey

Today- MIT

Starts PhD program in Planetary Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Senior Summer- Coding

Works as paid research assistant (more money!) w/Dr. Finn.

Helps supervise other siena summer students; writes python code to fit model data.


Senior Year- Thesis

Senior thesis: characterizes the star-formation properties of galaxies in the nearby and distant universe. 

Attends workshop at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Accepted into graduate school at MIT.

Graduates with double major in physics and astronomy.

Junior Summer- Arizona

Selected to participate Research Experience for Undergraduates program
at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Works on project related to detecting near-earth asteroids -
objects that could potentially collide with the earth - and loves it!


Junior Year- Independent Research

Takes observational astronomy course and installs and tests a new spectrograph.
Obtains a beautiful spectrum of the moon
(which, incidentally, looks just like a spectrum of the sun b/c the moon shines by reflecting sunlight)

Goes to Puerto Rico with Observational Astronomy class to observe at the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope.

Applies for summer research positions at other universities

Sophomore Summer- Analysis

Research job with Rose Finn - analyzed images of over 1500 galaxies!


Sophomore Year- Chile

Switches from physics education to physics.

Attends Astronomy Camp for Educators outside Tucson, Arizona.

Attends a workshop on radio astronomy at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

Travels to Chile to observe with Dr. Finn.

Runs astronomy classes for local girl scout troops.

Freshman Summer- Galaxies

Research job with Rose Finn working on the Local Cluster Survey.
   Classifies the morphologies of galaxies and learns to program in matlab and python. 


Freshman Year- Siena

Starts at Siena

High School

Attends Shenendehowa

Decides to come to Siena;
Wants to get a dual certification to teach secondary math and physics.

Awarded a Tech Valley Scholarship at Siena.



James Pater, 2013 - Nonoscale Physics

Nanoscale Physics

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at Siena improved my analytical problem solving skills and emphasized the importance of critical thinking. The professors were always willing to meet one-on-one, which helped me identify my strengths and weaknesses.


His Siena Journey


Graduate student at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering; working as a research assistant in a group that focuses on improving solar technology.

co-founded and Chief Operating Officer a company called Eonic, which focuses on increasing the energy capacity of next-generation energy storage technologies. 

Won first place in the Energy & Sustainability category of the 2013 New York State Business Plan Competition; featured in the Business Review.

Senior Year

Vice President of Physics Club

Applies to graduate programs-- decides on SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Junior Year

Submits a resume to Sematech and competes successfully against several students from Siena and other area schools for the job.

Presents at a meeting.

Sophomore Summer

Worked with Dr. Rosenberry on a molecular physics project and with Dr. Allan Weatherwax in the area of space physics

Sophomore Year

James goes on an observing trip with Dr. Finn to Kitt Peak National Observatory, where he used the NEWFIRM camera on the 4-meter telescope to measure star-formation rates of distant galaxy clusters.

Freshman Summer

Worked with Dr. Finn analyzing optical and radio data of a nearby galaxy group

Freshman Year

Arrives at Siena College


Kevin Risolo -Medical Physics








Laura Apicello - Medical Physics








Mike Hickey - Engineering








Department Chair

Rose A. Finn

Professor of Physics

254 Roger Bacon

(518) 782‑6764