Passing on the spark: New physics professor aims to inspire


September 26, 2018

Antia Sanchez Botana grew up in the northwest of Spain and was drawn to physics at an early age. The subject appealed to her natural curiosity.

“The need of trying to explain why do things happen, that curiosity is what drove me to science,” she said. She also credits her high school physics teacher, who became her role model and steered her career as a physicist. Antia Botana “Most of the people were working in high energy, but I was always drawn to condensed-matter physics,” Antia Sanchez Botana said. “I always wanted to understand why the components that went into my phone were chosen, why they worked that way.” Download Full Image

That career now has led her to join Arizona State University as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics. 

Botana attended the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain as an undergraduate; there she began to refine her research interests. While completing her master's and doctoral degrees, she had the opportunity to study abroad, spending four months in Vienna, Austria, and three months in Washington, D.C., in the naval research lab. She then went on to accept a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Davis and afterward at Argonne National Lab in Chicago.

Her research employs density functional theory to direct the computational design of materials with novel functionalities. She works on topics ranging from superconductivity to frustrated magnetism, thermoelectricity and confinement effects in nanostructures.

“Most of the people were working in high energy, but I was always drawn to condensed-matter physics,” she said. “I always wanted to understand why the components that went into my phone were chosen, why they worked that way.”

She is excited to join ASU’s faculty and energized by the university's commitment to excellence and diversity. She is eager to engage with students and build her research group, hoping to serve as that spark of inspiration for her students — “getting to motivate their curiosity for research the same way it happened for me,” she said.

When it comes to teaching a new generation, particularly those who don’t already have an interest, the reputation of physics can sometimes be its greatest challenge. Students tend to come with a preconception that the subject will be overly difficult and the worst experience of their education, but Botana insists it does not have to be that way.

“That’s why I think it’s important on our end to show students that physics is beautiful — the preconceptions of physics being a horrible subject, it’s not that horrible, it really is not,” she said.

She is also excited at the prospect of founding her own research group. “I intend to bring together materials physics and mineralogy,” she said. “Materials, going back to nature – because no one has more experience making materials than nature itself.”

When she isn’t studying nature’s material modeling, Botana has a wide variety of hobbies. She is fond of photography and architecture and likes to combine those interests as she travels. She also enjoys running and practices Pilates. 

Dominique Perkins

Events and Communications Coordinator, Department of Physics

480-965-6794

Christine Wilkinson's service, leadership honored with 2 awards

ASU senior VP receives Don Carlos Humanitarian Award from Tempe, makes AZ Business Magazine's 2018 list of Most Influential Women in Arizona


September 26, 2018

Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson recently has received two honors recognizing her career that has been dedicated to education and leadership with an extensive history of community service. 

The Tempe Community Council has named Wilkinson the recipient of its Don Carlos Humanitarian Award, presented at an awards ceremony Wednesday evening. The Don Carlos Humanitarian Award, which honors those who have dedicated their lives to giving back and caring for others, is named after Tempe’s founder, Charles Trumbull Hayden, who was known as Don Carlos. Her parents, Margaret and William Kajikawa, received the same award in 1986 for their commitment to Tempe. Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson Christine Kajikawa Wilkinson’s current roles at ASU are senior vice president and secretary of the university; president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association; managing director of the Trustees of ASU; and a tenured faculty member in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College. Download Full Image

AZ Business Magazine named Wilkinson to the 2018 list of the Most Influential Women in Arizona, which recognizes women who demonstrate professional excellence, innovation and community impact. AZ Business Magazine featured the list in its July/August edition of the publication and held an awards reception in Phoenix on Aug. 23.

Wilkinson’s current roles at ASU are senior vice president and secretary of the university; president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association; managing director of the Trustees of ASU; and a tenured faculty member in the division of educational leadership and innovation in the Mary Lou Fulton Teacher College. Other positions at the university she has held include vice president for student affairs, vice president in the Office of the President, and interim director of intercollegiate athletics on three occasions.

Her community involvement includes serving on the following boards: Arizona Business Leadership Association, Valley of the Sun United Way, and Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center. She also serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America National Leadership Council. Wilkinson is a member of the ASU Foundation’s Women and Philanthropy Program and the Arizona Women’s Forum.

For her leadership, contributions and commitment to service, Wilkinson has received the following honors and awards: Most Admired Leader Lifetime Achievement Award by the Phoenix Business Journal in 2017, induction into the Arizona Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017, the Golden Saguaro Award in 2016 by the Japanese American Citizens League, the Tempe Business Woman of the Year in 2014, One of Arizona’s 48 Most Intriguing Women in 2012 as part of the Arizona Centennial Legacy Project and the Woman of the Year in 2009 by Valley Leadership.