Join our working group meetings

For transparency, openness, and accountability, all members of the community are welcome to attend our working group meetings on the first Friday of the month at 11am. Reach out to obtain Zoom access info.

Upcoming dates: March 5, April 2, May 7, June 4.

IREAP- ROLE is a task force that was designed to help institute constituents recognize the racial injustices that live within our community and help cultivate a way to dismantle said injustices and curate a space welcome to diversity, inclusivity, and equity of all people. This initiative was sparked by the continued escalation of racial tension within our state's nation. Our idea is to spread awareness, educate, and create striking conversations to be had within our institute and beyond.

Our hope is to keep the conversation going.

Our hope is to bring about change.


Meet the task force:


Amitava Banerjee

Graduate Student, Department of Physics

Amitava Banerjee (he/him, they/them) is a Ph.D. student from India, working with Prof. Edward Ott and Prof. Rajarshi Roy on applications of machine learning in analyzing dynamical systems. He believes that the biggest open problem in physics is not quantizing gravity or understanding the nature of dark matter, but it is making the physics community more diverse and serving justice.


Sai Kanth Dacha

Graduate Student, Department of Physics

Sai Kanth (he/him/his) is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maryland. After earning his undergraduate degree at IIT Madras in India, he moved to the United States to pursue his doctoral degree. He works with Prof. Thomas E. Murphy on experimental investigation of spatiotemporal nonlinear optics in multimode fibers. Outside of research, he is an avid photographer, and enjoys biking, playing chess and writing for his new blog.


Kevin Daniels

Assistant Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Kevin Daniels (he/him/his) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with a joint appointment at the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics. Dr. Daniels received his B.S., M.E. and PhD in electrical engineering from the University of South Carolina in 2009, 2012, and 2014, respectively. From 2014 to his start at UMD, Dr. Daniels served as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow residing at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (Washington, D.C.). His research interests include the synthesis of wide bandgap and two-dimensional materials for biological, chemical and environmental sensing.


Roxanne Defendini

Coordinator, UMD/ NIST- PML Fellows Program

Roxanne Defendini (she/her) joined the institute in May 2010. She was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and has been in the United States for over 40 years.  Exercising is a part of her life. Her true passion is sewing and up-cycling. Her love for reusing and revamping old objects and materials into something more beautiful is her way of reducing her carbon footprint.


Thomas E. Murphy

Professor, Dept of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Director, Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics

Tom Murphy (he/him/his) has worked in several capacities as an educator, researcher, and leader at the University of Maryland since joining the faculty in 2002.  He enjoys working with students on a variety of problems in areas as diverse as 2D optoelectronics, microwave photonics, ultrafast and nonlinear optics, integrated optics, electrooptics, and nonlinear dynamics.  He currently serves as the Director of the Institute for Research in Electronics & Applied Physics (IREAP).  


Heidi Myers

Graduate Student, Department of Geology

Heidi Myers (she/her/hers) is a Ph.D. student working with Prof. Daniel Lathrop and Prof. Vedran Lekic on geophysical instrumentation design and machine learning applications for the 3-Meter Geodynamo experiment and landmine detection. Outside of research, she enjoys writing music, cooking, and spending time with her dogs Electro and Magneto.


Taylor Prendergast

Coordinator, IREAP

Taylor Prendergast (she, her, hers) is a Coordinator in IREAP. She received her BA in Sociology in 2015 and earned her MBA in 2019. She has worked at the university in various roles since 2015. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking and spending time with family and friends.


Daniel Serrano

Senior Faculty Specialist, IREAP

Daniel Serrano (he/him/his) was born in Colombia and moved to the US right before his High School graduation ceremony. From a BS in Environmental Science to a PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology, he was driven towards research that would help us understand nature to develop sustainable technologies. But sometime during his PhD work, he realized he would rather be a career mentor to future scientists and communicator of science. That’s what he does now.


Marc Swisdak

Research Scientist, IREAP

Marc Swisdak is a Research Scientist. After earning his undergraduate degree at UMD, he attended graduate school at the University of Colorado, had a post-doc position at UMD, and worked for three years at the Naval Research Laboratory. His research centers on computer simulations of space and astrophysical plasmas. He lives with his family in College Park.

The task force will be charged with the following:

I - Inquire, collect and organize information, input, feedback and ideas from inside and outside of our community about combating racial injustice and promoting antiracism.  Examine best practices in place elsewhere, and where necessary seek external advice and consultation.

R - Represent, communicate, and publicize our Institute's efforts to promote racial justice, within our Institute, Colleges, University, and to our external peers, visitors and prospective students/staff/employees. 

E - Enlist participants from inside and outside of our Institute to support and enact in these new initiatives.  Find and implement ways to combat bias and promote diversity in how and who we hire and recruit.  

A - Advocate, on behalf of IREAP, for change and reform, in our Institute, on our campus, and and in our professions. 

P - Plan activities and events to raise awareness and promote equity.  Create and update a long-term plan for antiracism and diversity in IREAP, and establish long-term goals and milestones.


R - Recommend policies and practices to prevent racism, promote inclusion, and create a more diverse and welcoming environment.  Advise and consult with the IREAP leadership, organization and search committees.

O - Organize our efforts in racial justice and diversity.

L - Listen -  Starting with the survey results and discussions from last summer, provide and manage a platform, system or forum for ongoing feedback and ideas.  

E - Enact recommendations, with the support of the Institute community, and evaluate outcomes.

Perhaps the most fundamental requirement for any human endeavor is the availability of land and natural resources. Scientific research is no exception.

At the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP), we acknowledge that the University of Maryland is located on the traditional, ancestral and contemporary lands of the Nacotchtank (Anacostan) and Piscataway Peoples. We are here today after many generations of violence, genocide, displacement, migration, and settlement. To acknowledge the traditional stewards of this land is to recognize its long history reaching beyond colonization and establishment of European colonies.

Through this statement, we hope to bring about greater consciousness, at IREAP and beyond, of the historical and continuing connection between Indigenous peoples and their native lands. We hope that this land acknowledgement serves as an opening for us all to reflect on not only the violent history that brought us here, but also the ongoing struggles to defend Native sovereignty, identity and self-determination.




We are welcome to all suggestions and feedback.

Please contact us by sending an email to