The staff of the Physics Academic Programs Office supports every aspect of the Physics education program at MIT. We are a friendly, welcoming team of professionals dedicated to the success of all students in MIT Physics degree programs or taking an MIT Physics course.
From inquiries about the undergraduate major or questions about admission to our doctoral program, to overseeing degree completion and celebrating graduates, we are available at every step of the Physics education journey: providing information, interpreting academic policy, administering advising, organizing classes, and solving problems. As a part of your extended support network, we’re also available to help with non-academic issues as well, pointing you towards opportunities and resources of all kinds.
If you have a question about any aspect of academic life at MIT, ask the Academic Programs Office and we’ll help you find the answers you need.
Meet the Academic Programs Team
Catherine Modica (she/her)
Cathy oversees the administration of all Physics Department academic programs and manages the five-person staff of the academic office. Her expertise ranges from the macro (how to get things done around the Institute) through the nano (arcane details of MIT academic policy) to the human-sized (support and advice on successfully working with all of MIT’s flora and fauna). Her major interest is the well-being of students, all of whom she not-so-secretly thinks of as family.
Cathy loves drop-in visits from students and is hoping we can all come back to campus in the foreseeable future so she can run into you and chat about politics, books, art, and the meaning of life in general. Cathy lives in Arlington where she rides her bike on the Minuteman Bike Path and spends time with nearby family: sons Nick and Henry, daughter-in-law Lauren, and granddaughter Lily.
Sydney Miller (she/her)
Graduate Programs Administrator
Sydney manages the graduate student experience from prospective applicant inquiries through degree completion and graduation.
Sydney works with current students on recruitment and outreach for the department and is the staff liaison for the graduate admissions committee. She responds to inquiries from prospective applicants, handles applications, coordinates decision meetings, and runs the open house and orientation events for the prospective and incoming graduate class. Sydney staffs the first-year research seminar, documents written and oral exam results, thesis committee formation, and other academic progress benchmarks for current students. She publicizes thesis defense arrangements, collects completed theses for the department, and celebrates degree completion and commencement. Sydney provides letters to certify student status and funding and is the staff advisor for grad student groups, events, and activities. She is an alumna of the Physics Values Committee and champions their work. Sydney co-manages the grad student lounge and front office supplies when we are on campus and has ordered lots of catered lunches and snacks over the past 3+ years. Sydney and her dog Turbo are both adjusting to working remotely.
Emma Dunn (she/her)
Undergraduate Advising and Program Coordinator
Many undergraduates know Emma as their liaison to the Physics Academic Programs Office. She conducts degree audits, manages student records, hires non-UROP student employees (graders, tutors, TAs), manages senior thesis submission, and can generally find the answer to most of your physics department / academic-related questions even if she needs to consult others. If you’re an undergraduate, Emma is not only the person who you can send most forms and petitions to but she is also the person from the office who you will probably be getting the most emails from (so look for her name in your inbox)!
At her home in Rhode Island, Emma enjoys spending time with her fiancé and being an Auntie to her puppy niece, Rosie. Emma is a musician, a lifetime martial artist and a language-lover! She also loves practicing her Portuguese (falantes de português, não sejam tímidos!).
Karma Yangzom (she/her)
Student Payroll Coordinator
Karma processes and manages student appointments for the Physics Department. She also assists graduate and undergraduate students with any payroll/timesheet related issues or concerns.
Here are some of the things that Karma can help undergraduate students with:
- timesheet issues/questions
- student employment (TA, Graders, UROP)
- payroll related issues
- verification letter for UROP
- timesheet & direct deposit procedure
Here are some of the things that Karma can help graduate students with:
- TA and RA appointment related questions
- payment or account related issues
- Graduate grader and proctor appointment; payment and setting up appointment
- fellowship related questions; please email email@example.com
Karma lives in Medford, Massachusetts with her husband and her 1 year old daughter. She loves spending time with her family. Some of her hobbies include going on long walks, hiking, kayaking, and traveling to different countries. She misses being on campus and interacting with her colleagues and students.
Denise Wahkor (she/her)
Denise provides administrative support for the department’s teaching staff and to the undergraduate program within the Academic Programs Office.
Some of her responsibilities are:
- assisting faculty and teaching staff in managing courses
- coordinating the final exam schedule with faculty
- organizing meetings, grading sessions, tutor sessions, exam reviews and other course activities
- working with faculty and disabilities office to provide testing accommodations
- administering the subject evaluation process
- scheduling of section lecturers and recitation instructors each term
- arranging IAP subjects and events, including scheduling and booking rooms
- helping students, faculty and instructors with IAP course related problems
Denise lives in Woburn, Massachusetts. During her spare time, she likes to take walks around Horn Pond, travel, spend time with friends + family, and handcraft jewelry pieces and natural/organic skincare products.
Kimeee Heatley (she/they)
Web & Database Administrator
Kimeee is the Physics Web & Database Administrator and is reponsible for:
- the MIT Physics Website
- the MIT Physics Social Media accounts:
- the Physics Course Sites: working in conjunction with Course Manager, Denise Wahkor
- the Physics Student Database
Kimeee lives in Boston with her wife Jill, roommate Sawyer, cats Pickles and Trouble, and dog Nugget, who often appears in our APO office, under her desk. She’s a true crime nut and loves watching horror movies. In her spare time, she’s been slowly teaching herself how to play piano. Otherwise, she’s kept busy walking Nugget, playing flag football, and going on spontaneous road trips for ice cream or other yummy food.
Pets of Academic Programs
Likes: Seeing ‘his’ students and food.
Dislikes: Working from home.
Likes: Balls and tug toys. Being rescued from a strip mall parking lot.
Dislikes: Being surprised or tricked. Getting wet.
Likes: Eating socks, playing tug, and treats!
Dislikes: Being told what to do.