About  Kathryn Z. Hadley Phd

Kathryn (Zadrozny) Hadley is a professor of physics, enthusiastic about teaching many aspects of physics, and dedicated to pursuing her research in astrophysics theory. She is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Whitman College, a liberal arts college in Washington State.

Before obtaining her Ph.D Kathy used to enjoy her summers tending flocks of sheep in the mountains.


Kathryn graduated with a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Oregon (UO) in 2011. While doing research and writing her dissertation, She taught at Lane Community College (LCC) where she received the Faculty Recognition Award.

Over her career she has taught a wide range of courses, including general physics as a conceptual class and as a rigorous calculus-based class, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Her experience includes leading a calculus-based lab focused on error analysis, and an advanced physics lab with topics such as Brownian motion, Fourier analysis and radioactive decay. She also taught astronomy, covering the solar system, stars, galaxies and cosmology as a sequence course, a survey course and an internet-based course.

Kathryn earned her degree in the field of theoretical astrophysics, working on high-powered computational linear and nonlinear modeling of astrophysical systems. Her dissertation is an in-depth linear analysis of hydrodynamic star-disk systems, particularly applicable to star formation. This topic is extremely timely, given our current wealth of new observational data regarding extrasolar planets and protoplanetary disks, and interest in the processes at work in their formation and evolution. Kathryn examined a very large expanse of parameter space involving systems of varying star-to-disk mass ratio, disk size and momentum field structure. This analysis involved identifying different kinds of modes inherent to the disks and their underlying driving mechanisms. She has also done extensive work on linear and nonlinear modeling of magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) systems. Inclusion of the magnetic field in modeling astrophysical systems is particularly difficult from a mathematical as well as a computational standpoint, but extremely important, as the vast majority of normal matter in the universe is plasma. The current project investigates corrugation instabilities in plasma shockwaves. This instability causes a rippling effect in the shock front which launches waves into the plasma. The calculations arise from fundamental conservation laws. The linear approximation uses an equilibrium solution to seed an eigenvalue problem involving a system of seven coupled differential equations. The nonlinear problem begins with the same equilibrium solution but advances the system in time by fluxing conserved quantities on a computational grid. In particular, we model strong, slow shocks. Strong shocks refer to high sonic Mach number. Slow shocks are especially difficult to model because their magnetosonic waves travel faster than the local sound speed, allowing them to propagate upstream, affecting the incoming flow of plasma.

Kathryn spent considerable time mentoring undergraduates on projects involving modeling of star-disk systems, plasma shocks and other systems such as neutron stars and strange quark stars while serving as a group leader and mentor in the Undergraduate Catalytic Outreach and Research Experience (UCORE) program. Since graduating, she has remained active as a Courtesy Research Associate in the Imamura group and retain access to large UO HPC computer cluster, as well as the new ACISS GPU-based cluster. Her research is fundamental in nature, with many applications and much opportunity for future work, such as modeling jets and bow shocks. Her group developed the Imogen MHD code, and they are working to adapt it to function as a teaching tool as well as a research instrument. Kathryn is familiar with many kinds of advanced technology and readily incorporate these technologies into her teaching on a daily basis. She writes in html to build and evolve her website, and in Fortran and Matlab to design and build simulations and animations.

Kathryn's focus has been on preparing for a career involving teaching and research. As a graduate student, she took every opportunity possible to teach a wide variety of physics classes, and to learn teaching methods from her professors. She has taken committee positions aimed at increasing skills necessary to be an effective professor. She has served on their graduate student admissions committee for two years, gaining insight about advising physics majors to successfully navigate the application process for graduate school. As a woman in physics, she understands the importance of diversity in academia. Bringing people together from all walks of life strengthens a field. This is especially true in physics, where comprehension of fundamental mechanisms is multi-faceted and multi-leveled. Kathryn has been active in outreach, serving as a fellow in the GK-12 program, working in elementary and middle school classrooms to help teachers learn to effectively teach science by doing hands-on experiments as well as imparting information and enthusiasm to the students. Working with elementary school students taught her to communicate deep fundamental ideas in everyday language. She recognizes that for many of the students in her general education classes, participation in my class will be their only experience involving a higher-education science class. Kathryn has a strong commitment to liberal arts education and strives to continually better her ability to reach students and to listen to them as well, recognizing that people come from widely diverse backgrounds with many different learning styles. Her method teaching is spontaneous within an organized structure, incorporate many methods developed by notable people in the field of physics pedagogy.

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