Professor Patrick E. Hopkins


Patrick’s Google Scholar Profile

Patrick the Whitney Stone Professor in Engineering at the University of Virginia, with a primary appointment in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and courtesy appointments in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Department of Physics, and a co-director of the ExSiTE Lab.  Patrick received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from UVA in 2008, following a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and a B.A. in Physics at UVA in 2004.  He spent 3 years as a Harry S. Truman Postdoctoral Fellow at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM from 2008 – 2011.  Patrick is also the President and co-Founder of Laser Thermal, Inc., a company based in Charlottesville, VA that specializes in thermal conductivity measurement equipment and services.

Awards and Honors

-National Finalist, Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, 2022
-Whitney Stone Professor in Engineering, UVA, 2021-2026
ASME Gustus L. Larson Memorial Award, 2021
-Participant in the Defense Science Study Group, 2021-2023
-Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, 2021-2023
-Captain George Zinn Faculty Scholar, Dept. Mech. and Aero. Eng., UVA, 2020-2021
-MAE Graduate Advisor of the Year, Dept. Mech. and Aero. Eng., UVA, 2018, 2021
-MAE Researcher of the Year, Dept. Mech. and Aero. Eng., UVA, 2017, 2019, 2020
-Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 2019
-Research Award for significant contributions to research at the University of Virginia, 2019
Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE, “Class” of 2013), 2016
ASME Bergles-Rohsenow Young Investigator Award in Heat Transfer, 2016
-Outstanding Reviewer: ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, 2016
-National Finalist, Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists, 2014
-Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, 2013
-Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, 2013
-Sandia National Laboratories Harry S. Truman Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2011


Postdoctoral Research Associates


Eric Hoglund, Ph.D.


Eric graduated with his Ph.D. in Materials Science from the University of Virginia in 2020 following a B.S. in Materials Science from the NC State University.  In his Ph.D. he used state-of-the-art scanning transmission electron microscopy and electron energy-loss spectroscopy to understand the relation between the structural, vibrational, and electronic state of interfaces in materials. Eric is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the ExSiTE group continuing his study of interfaces and working to advance the use of scanning transmission electron microscopy as a tool for local thermal measurements. 

Ramya Mohan, Ph.D.


Ramya Mohan graduated with a Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering from the University of California, Riverside in 2021. Her dissertation research focused on the effects of structural inhomogeneities in magnetization and nanoscale thermal transport in metal-based systems. Prior to her Ph.D., Ramya graduated with a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles in 2015, following a Bachelor of Technology degree in Aeronautical Engineering from JNTU – Hyderabad, India, in 2012. Her current post-doctoral research at the ExSiTE group focuses on understanding thermal transport phenomena and quasi-particle interactions in carbon-based materials using IR laser spectroscopy. 




John T. Gaskins, Ph.D.


As Co-Founder and CEO of Laser Thermal, Inc., John has conducted research characterizing the mechanical, optical and thermal properties of materials since 2005. John received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2013.  His work developed methodologies for testing the size dependent properties in thin film structures.  After his Ph.D. John joined Patrick Hopkins’ group extending his Ph.D. work focused on mechanical property characterization to optical and thermal properties. John is leading LT’s development of SSTR-F to provide accessible small-scale thermal conductivity measurements to industrial and academic partners.

Hans Olson, Ph.D.


As Director of Product Development at Laser Thermal, Inc., Hans has performed extensive research in characterizing the thermal properties of bulk and thin film materials, in addition to constructing state-of-the-art optical systems for thermal measurements at the academic level since 2016. Hans received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia in 2021. His dissertation research consisted of the development and use of pulsed and continuous-wave laser systems for the measurement of thermal properties at varying time and length scales. During this time, he developed acquisition and analysis tools that streamlined the measurements and characterization of thin film and bulk, inhomogeneous material systems.




Kiumars Aryana


Kiumars (Mars) received his B.S degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Birjand in 2015 and his M.S degree from Miami University of Ohio in 2018. For his masters, his focus was on the self-assembly of multi-element colloidal particles using Molecular Dynamics simulations and computationally investigated their acoustic and optical properties. He joined the ExSiTE lab in 2018 as a Ph.D. student and is currently working on the thermal transport in phase change non-volatile memory devices as a part of a joint project between UVA and Western Digital.


Md. Shafkat Bin Hoque


Shafkat received his B.S. degree from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and his M.S. degree from Auburn University. His research background is in experimental micro and nano-scale heat transfer. He joined UVA from fall 2018 as a Ph.D. student and is working on high temperature thermal conductivity measurements. 


Daniel Hirt


Daniel graduated from James Madison University with a B.S. in Physics in 2021 where he worked under Dr. Costel Constantin studying the optical properties of various metal oxides using ellipsometry.  He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering focusing on studying non equilibrium mechanisms of thermal transport. 


William Hutchins



Md. Rafiqul Islam


Rafiqul received his BS and MS degrees in Materials and Metallurgical Engineering from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology. His research experience includes synthesizing nanomaterials (carbon-based and multiferroic) and studying their functional and physical properties. He is pursuing his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UVa. His research interest lies in studying the thermal properties of interconnect metals for very large-scale integration.


Milena Milich


Milena received bachelor degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly, SLO). Her research background includes projects from fields ranging from algal biofuel studies and paleoclimate modeling to underwater vehicles and cyber-physical systems. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UVA, researching high temperature thermometry and thermomechanical failure of thermal barrier coatings. Milena is a recipient of the NSF National Research Traineeship for research in cyber-physical systems, and is a member of UVA’s Link Lab.


Sara Hoseini Makarem


Sara received her B.S in materials science and engineering form Iran University of Science and Technology. Later, she pursued higher education in financial economics and management science and graduated from University of Virginia with an M.S. in quantitative economics. Following her graduation she spent more than two years in the investment industry. Sara is now a PhD student in materials science and a recipient of an NIH training grant.


Thomas Pfeifer


Thomas Pfeifer received a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he studied polymer processing, composites, and additive manufacturing. Following his masters, he joined industry for three years in software development. Thomas is now pursuing his Ph.D., studying the thermal and electrical properties of semiconductors.


Will Riffe


Will received his B.S. in Chemistry from James Madison University in 2021 where he focused on materials characterization of metal oxide thin films. He is currently a PhD student in the Materials Science and Engineering department at UVA focusing on the thermal transport of novel protective coatings for extreme environments.


Emma Tiernan


Emma received a B.S. in Engineering Physics and Chemistry from Randolph-Macon College in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked under Dr. John D. Thoburn researching the synthesis of enlarged supramolecular cubes for the encapsulation of nanocrystals. She joined the ExSiTE lab in the fall of 2019 as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Currently, she is studying thermal transport mechanisms in organic superlattices and proteins. Emma is a recipient of the Dean’s Scholar Fellowship.




The ExSiTE Lab is searching for our next group of talented, motivated, and energetic engineers and scientists. We generally hire 2-4 graduate students a year in addition to post-docs on an as needed basis. Interested parties should have experience with research, a strong academic background in physics, materials science, and/or mechanical engineering, with additional knowledge of either electrical engineering or computer science a plus, and be capable of handling a high intensity learning and research environment. Please send a CV and a brief introduction via email to ExsiteLabRecruiting[at]virginia[dot]edu. Please make your introduction both concise and clear that you have an understanding and interest in our research field. Prospective graduate students with a Masters degree or about to complete a Masters degree should note this in their introduction.



Mahboobe Jassas (Postdoc: 2021 – 2022): Onto Innovations
John Tomko, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2021) – Silicon Valley
Kathleen Quiambao-Tomko
John Gaskins, Ph.D. (Principal Scientist: 2013 – 2021) – Laser Thermal, Inc.
Mallory DeCoster, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2021) – Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Hans Olson, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2021) – Laser Thermal, Inc.
Ethan Scott, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2021) – Sandia National Labs
Jeffrey Braun (Ph.D., 2019) – Northrop Grumman Corporation
Christina Rost (Postdoc: 2016 – 2019) – Assistant Professor at James Madison University
Ellie Radue, Ph.D. (Postdoc: 2016 – 2018) – FiberTek Inc.
Chester Szwejkowski (M.S., 2018) – Surface Optics Corporation
Sofie Ravesteijn (Undergraduate Research Assistant: 2015 – 2017) – Northrop Grumman Corporation
Brian M. Foley, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2016) – Assistant Professor at The Pennsylvania State University
Brian Donovan, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2016) – Assistant Professor at United States Naval Academy
Ramez Cheaito, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2015, Postdoc: 2015 – 2016) – Gooch and Housego
Lei Wang, Ph.D. (Postdoc: 2015 – 2016) – Morgan Stanley
Ashutosh Giri, Ph.D. (Ph.D., 2016) – Senior Scientist at the University of Virginia
Kelsey Meyer (M.S., 2016)
Matt Caplan (Undergraduate Research Assistant: 2013) – Assistant Professor at Illinois State University
Caitlin Crawford (Undergraduate Research Assistant: 2014 – 2015) – Ph.D. Student at Colorado School of Mines
Bryce H. Crane (REU Student: Summer 2012; Undergraduate Research Assistant: Summer 2013) – Leonardo S.p.A.
John C. Duda, Ph.D. (Postdoc: 2012 – 2013) – Seagate Technology
Caroline Gorham (Graduate Student: 2012-2013) – Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University
Nan “Vinnie” Chen (High School Intern: Summer 2013) – Research Assistant at Harvard University
Dave Henry (Summer Research Associate: Summer 2013) – Assistant Principal

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