We are thrilled to announce the addition of five new faculty members to our Schmid College team this fall!

polona durcik

Assistant Professor of Mathematics – Dr. Polona Durcik

Dr. Durcik received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Ljubljana in 2011 and went on to receive her Master’s of Science and Ph.D. from the University of Bonn in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Prior to coming to Chapman, she served as a Harry Bateman Instructor at the California Institute of Technology. Her research is focused on harmonic analysis.




kelsey gray

Assistant Director of Grand Challenges Initiative and Instructional Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences – Dr. Kelsey Gray

Dr. Gray earned her undergraduate degree in biomedical science with a minor in philosophy from The Ohio State University and earned her Ph.D. in genetics and molecular biology from the University of North Carolina, where she held a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Dr. Gray was most recently a Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Fellow at Drepung Loseling Monastic University in South India, where she carried out science education research and taught courses on genes and cells, development and physiology, and learning the English language through inquiry-based science. Her research and teaching were part of the science education efforts led by the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was previously a postdoctoral fellow. She has taught at the University of North Carolina, Morehouse College, Durham Technical Community College, and Emory University. Dr. Gray’s research has appeared in RNA Biology, Molecular Biology of the Cell, G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics and the Journal of Microbiology and Biology Education.


armen gulianProfessor of Physics – Dr. Armen Gulian

Dr. Gulian received his M.S. degree in Theoretical Solid State Physics (Superconductivity) and Ph.D. in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics at the Higher School of Physics at the Moscow Engineering-Physics Institute, where he worked with Nobel Laureate Vitaly Ginzburg. In 1990, he received a degree titled Doctor of Physical & Mathematical Sciences (Soviet Degree, similar to Habilitation in the German system) for this series of explorations. Between 1994 – 2010, Dr. Gulian was affiliated with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (Washington DC), where he developed novel concepts of cryogenic single-photon detectors. In 2008-2009, while researching at the Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Gulian developed physical models for Brillouin avalanches triggered in optical fibers by the phonon injection. This research captured the interest of the Office of Naval Research (ONR) for cryogenic communication tasks. Dr. Gulian has been a member of Chapman’s Institute for Quantum Studies. Before setting up the Advanced Physics Laboratory for Chapman, Dr. Gulian founded the Laboratory of High-Temperature Superconductivity at the Physics Research Institute, Armenia (overseeing the world’s first observation of phase-slip centers in high-temperature superconductors).

kate hillInstructor of Biological Sciences – Dr. Kate Hill

Dr. Hill received her BAS in Biology and Music at Stanford University, after which she worked as a middle school science teacher for Teach for America in Houston, Texas. Kate’s passion for science and teaching led her to Florida State University to pursue her Ph.D. Her dissertation research examined the communities of tiny animals that live inside marine sponges, including shrimps, worms, and brittle stars. A highlight of her research was traveling to field sites in Panamá, Belize, and the Florida Keys and working with undergraduate students. During her dissertation, Kate also engaged in science education research and assisted in developing a new Biology Laboratory, which incorporated inquiry-based learning methods. Kate is interested in promoting equitable teaching practices that improve student retention in the sciences and provide students with authentic science experiences. Her professional goal is to develop teaching methods and programs that support students in their transition to undergraduate coursework, particularly in the sciences.

cai waegellInstructional Assistant Professor of Physics – Dr. Mordecai (Cai) Waegell

Dr. Waegell has been at Chapman as a member of the Institute of Quantum Studies. He received his Doctor of Philosophy from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2013. Dr. Waegell studies the foundation of quantum mechanics, which lies at the frontier of modern science. His research focuses primarily on fundamental questions about the nature of the universe and finds some practical applications in quantum information processing and communication.