Undergraduate alumni feature: Jeff Drocco, '04

Author: Marissa Gebhard

Jeff Drocco, '04, is a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His affiliation with LANL began early: as an undergraduate, he joined a collaboration between Notre Dame physics professor Boldizsar Janko and LANL scientists Cynthia Olson Reichhardt and Charles Reichhardt, working on computational studies of vortices and granular matter.

At Notre Dame, Drocco won a Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious award in the U.S. conferred upon undergraduates in the sciences. He then moved to Princeton for his Ph.D. work, where he also held a Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship.  A biological physicist, he completed his dissertation on pattern formation in development, working in the laboratories of his advisor David Tank and Nobel laureate Eric Wieschaus '69.

In 2011, Drocco returned to Los Alamos as a Director's fellow in the Physics of Condensed Matter and Complex Systems Group. His most recent projects include modeling the dynamics of swarming microorganisms, as well as studying the effect of nanoparticle aggregation on toxicity to human tissue.

"Notre Dame planted the seeds of scientific curiosity in my mind and introduced me to the art of using the principles of physics to study diverse aspects of the natural world," Drocco says. "My experiences there inspired me to pursue a career in science after graduation."