A Baylor graduate herself, Dr. Matthews comes from a big family of Baylor Bears. “My father, five brothers and sisters, my husband, and two sisters-in-law also attended Baylor,” she says.
Dr. Matthews met her husband while attending Diadeloso, a long-standing spring tradition at Baylor, and the two were married the following December of her senior year. “Since we were leap-frogging each other in degrees, I continued my Honors research in graduate school,” says Dr. Matthews. “With the help of an NSF graduate fellowship, I was able to finish my Ph.D. in four years.” Soon after, she went to work for Raytheon (now L-3) as an engineer, but her favorite part of the job was making presentations for the customers. “I realized teaching was a better job for me.”
Dr. Matthews has been teaching at Baylor since 2000. “I love being able to learn something new each day and be able to pass that along to my students,” she says. Currently she teaches graduate courses in classical mechanics and plasma physics, undergraduate courses in astrophysics, and an honors section of PHY1430. She also leads an Honors Colloquium and a section of University 1000 each year.
Cosmic Dust Bunnies
Dr. Matthews is currently conducting theoretical and experimental investigations of dusty plasmas. “Dust and plasma are found everywhere in the universe and help shape many processes,” she said. “I investigate the dynamics of charged dust grains immersed in a plasma.” Additionally, she studies the coagulation of dust in protoplanetary disks as a precursor to planet formation (or cosmic dust bunnies as she puts it) and the dynamics of dust in Saturn’s rings.
She was recently honored with the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award. The CAREER grant is given to creative junior faculty likely considered to become academic leaders of the future.
When Off the Clock ...
Dr. Matthews maintains a great balance between her work and personal life, but her family does keep her busy. “With four young children, I don’t have a lot of time to pursue my favorite hobbies right now.” When she does find a spare moment, Dr. Matthews enjoys painting, sewing, and “making fancy birthday cakes—the one thing I do get to do!”