Group Leader: Professor Benjamin Frandsen

Contact info:, 801-422-2341, N234 ESC

Hi! I am an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at BYU, where I have been since 2018. My research involves structural studies of interesting and useful materials using neutron, x-rays, and photons. I currently teach General Physics II (Physics 106) and Advanced Mechanics (Physics 321). Before beginning my current position, I was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where I worked with Prof. Bob Birgeneau on neutron and x-ray scattering studies of iron-based superconductors. Prior to that, I performed my graduate studies at Columbia University in New York, where I was co-supervised by Profs. Tomo Uemura and Simon Billinge on muon spin spectroscopy and pair distribution function analysis of strongly correlated electron systems. And before that, I was right back here at BYU as an undergraduate, where I studied physics and German and did research with Prof. Branton Campbell on relaxor ferroelectric materials. I grew up in southern California and enjoy going back to visit whenever I can.

My wife and I have been married since 2011. She is a writer with an undergraduate degree in English from BYU, an MA in literature from the City University of New York, and an MFA in creative writing from BYU. We have three wonderful and vivacious children. Outside of work and family, my passions and hobbies include music (piano and cello), athletics (soccer and running), the outdoors (hiking, snowboarding), traveling, and working to make BYU a more inclusive and loving place.

Faculty webpage: //

Graduate Students

  • Sabrina Hatt (PhD): Methods and applications of 1D- and 3D-mPDF techniques
  • Emma Zappala (MS): Determining magnetic interactions through Monte Carlo and mPDF
  • Edison Carlisle (PhD): Interaction space analysis of mPDF data

Undergraduate Students

  • Camille Shaw: Muon spin relaxation studies of technologically important antiferromagnets
  • Mitch Hilbig: Local structure of amorphous topological insulators and molten salts
  • Blake Hawkins: X-ray scattering investigation of magnetocaloric ferromagnet MnSb
  • Ethan Robinson: Muon spin relaxation investigation of low-dimensional magnet CoTa2O6
  • Ethan VanDerwerken: Synthesis and characterization of mixed B-site pyrochlores

Former Group Members

Graduate students:

  • Raju Baral (PhD; graduated December 2022): Short-Range Magnetic Correlations, Spontaneous Magnetovolume Effect, and Local Distortion in Magnetic Semiconductor MnTe
  • Parker Hamilton (MS; graduated August 2023): Enhanced Capabilities for Investigating Local Structure and Magnetism: Three Dimensional Magnetic Pair Distribution Function and Symmetry Mode Analysis 
  • Braedon Jones (MS; graduated December 2023): Local atomic and magnetic structure of multiferroic (Sr,Ba)(Mn,Ti)O3


  • Alex Shaw (2018 - 2020): Calculating dipolar magnetic fields from atomistic structure models for muSR analysis. Took a software engineering job.
  • Dylan Bailey (2018 - 2020): Fitting muSR spectra in python.
  • Nick Ducharme (2019-2020): PDF analysis of dilute magnetic semiconductors. Went on to a PhD program at Boston University.
  • Jake Hughes (2019 - 2020): PDF fitting methodologies using symmetry mode analysis. Took a job with a Chicago-based electronic trading firm.
  • Ethan Gibson (2019 - 2020): Analysis of muSR data on magnetocalorics. Went on to a PhD program at George Mason University.
  • Ethan Fletcher (2018 - 2021): PDF analysis of Mott insulator V2O3 and iron-based superconductors. Went on to a PhD program at Michigan State University.
  • Charlotte Read (2018 - 2021): Synthesis and advanced characterization of magnetic nanoparticles (co-advised with Dr. Karine Chesnel). Went on to a medical physics graduate program at Duke University.
  • Caleb Dame (2020 - 2021): Visualizing and creating magnetic models for magnetic pair distribution function analysis. Took a job in software/data science.
  • Godofredo Fajardo (2020 - 2021): Tools for cutting-edge analysis of molten salt structure for nuclear reactors.
  • Jade Stevens (2018 - 2021): Muon spin relaxation analysis of magnetic nanoparticles.
  • Alec Petersen (2018 - 2022): Introducing BEAMS, a new and improved analysis suite for muon spin spectroscopy.
  • Jacob Christensen (2020 - 2022): Developments and applications of magnetic pair distribution function techniques. Went on to a graduate program at University of Illinois.
  • Karolyn Mocellin (2020 - 2022): Understanding the structure of nuclear-relevant ionic salts.
  • Christiana Zaugg (2021 - 2022): Muon spin relaxation analysis of antiferromagnetic semiconductor MnTe.
  • Emma Zappala (2021 - 2023): Muon spin relaxation analysis of antiferromagnetic semiconductor MnTe. Continued to master's program at BYU.
  • Kane Fanning (2021 - 2022): Advanced data reduction algorithms to improve magnetic PDF analysis. Went on to a PhD program at NYU.
  • Victor Velasco (2021): Upgrading PDFgui to include magnetic PDF analysis.
  • Elizabeth Vargas (2021): Upgrading PDFgui to include magnetic PDF analysis.
  • Beric Bearnson (2021): Upgrading PDFgui to include magnetic PDF analysis.
  • Ethan Payne (2021 - 2022): Upgrading PDFgui to include magnetic PDF analysis.
  • Aaron Payne (2021 - 2022): Upgrading PDFgui to include magnetic PDF analysis.
  • Ross Lee (2021 - 2022): Neutron PDF studies of molten salts for nuclear reactors.
  • Eric Stubben (2021 - 2022): Enhancing magnetic structure representation in diffpy.mpdf. Went on to graduate program in math at BYU.
  • Jared Black (2021 - 2023): BEAMS software development.
  • Elliot Tidd (2022 - 2023): Improved software infrastructure for magnetic PDF analysis and application to doped MnTe.
  • Matt Scherer (2023): Synthesis and PDF studies of antiferromagnetic ilmenites.
  • Kristina Brown Nuttall (2022 - 2023): Short-range magnetism in frustrated magnet NaYbO2.
  • Russel Anderson (2022 - 2023): Source gap analysis of environmental impact.