Current group members

Jay E. Sharping


Jay (shown modeling the latest laser safety eyewear with his son Thomas) is currently an Associate Professor at the University of California – Merced. He received his Ph.D. from Northwestern University in 2003 under the direction of Professor Prem Kumar and served as a postdoctoral scientist at Cornell University in Professor Alexander Gaeta’s Quantum and Nonlinear Optics research group.


Alessandro Castelli


Al has been working in the Applied Photonics Research Group at UC Merced since 2011. As an undergraduate student in the lab, he studied coupling efficiency parameters for dual beam, fiber integrated optical trapping. As a graduate student, he has changed his focus and began to study free standing Niobium membranes in a microwave cavity for use in parametric amplification. In his spare time, Al enjoys shooting pool at the local pool hall and jamming on bass guitar with his band, Focii. When the season is right he tries to snowboard as much as possible. He has also been known to drive several hours to see his favorite bands perform live. Al came to UC Merced as an undergraduate because he felt he had a great opportunity to get into the quality research being done there. He feels that the staff is committed and helpful and that UC Merced is a good fit for him.

Alison Huff


Alison has been working in the Applied Photonics Research Group since Fall 2012. Her current research projects focus on trapping particles in a dual beam fiber optical trap with varying fiber separation. She is also actively involved in a collaboration to study Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) with this optical trapping/stretching platform. She attended the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio for her undergraduate degree and Miami University in Oxford, Ohio for her masters degree. Alison’s undergraduate research involved studying a charged pendulum in a varying electric and magnetic field and examining the characteristics of 17R4 in water using refractive index measurements and dynamic light scattering. Her masters research involved constructing a dual high pressure generator for examining biological systems at high pressures. In her free time Alison likes to play games and read detective novels. She chose the Physics group at UC Merced because of the environment, faculty, research opportunities and proximity to home.

Rodolfo Lopez

Jacob Pate

Jake Pate

Jake has been working in the Applied Photonics Group since Spring 2015. His current work focuses on implementing macroscopic optomechanical systems using superconducting radio frequency cavities for the purpose of exploring the limits to the classical-quantum boundary. Jake attended California State University, San Bernardino for his undergraduate degree. He has spent five summers of internships at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California working on metrology and interferometry systems. Jake discovers motivation in setting goals and pursuing passions. In his free time Jake enjoys spending time with his wife and son, Marissa and Mason, in doing fun activities such as camping, swimming, and visiting Yosemite. 

Deepak Sapkota

Deepak Sapkota

I have been working in optics lab under the advisory of Prof. Jay E. Sharping. We investigate the output coupling scheme for a non-polarization maintaining microstructure fiber optical parametric oscillator (FOPO) considering the effect of polarization on it. We observe both sidebands, signal and idler, coupled out using optical analyzer. The polarization based output coupling scheme leads to an increase of output power by 20%-30%. This increases tunability of the system ranging from 965nm to 1165nm with centered at 1064nm, which is not possible to obtain from any laser.

Jeffrey Miller

Optoelectronic Oscillator

My project involves a combination of the fields of fiber optics, microwave electronics and superconducting radio frequency cavities. I am working towards building an optoelectronic microwave oscillator and incorporating a SRF cavity into the design for use as a band pass filter. In the future, I hope to extend the OEO and implement the functionality of an optical clock.


Former group members

Jeremy Sanborn

Robin Roces

Michael Lee

Gabe Cano

Bryce Kornreich

Erick Watanabe

Yashwant Verma

Christiane Pailo

Tessa Pinon

Yanhua Zhai

Nancy Duque

Raymond Cheung

Leily Kiani


Leily joined the Applied Photonics Research Group as an AGEP scholar in the summer of 2008. Since then she has worked on a variety of projects convergent on the development of fiber optical parametric oscillators based on microstructure optical fibers. She enjoys spending time with friends and family, visiting the California beaches and mountains and playing soccer. Leily was a member of the pioneer class at UC Merced. She chose to attend UC Merced to be involved in the unique opportunities that come with participation in a developing program. She is currently continuing her studies in nonlinear fiber optics in the Physics graduate program at UC Merced.

Thompson Lu


Thompson has been in the Applied Photonics Group for three active years. As an undergrad, his research was to study and model the feasibility using a near infrared laser source for clearing biofilms off surfaces. As a graduate student, his research is to characterize a microstructure fiber based optical parametric oscillator and its applications to coherent Raman Scattering spectroscopy and microscopy. Thompson obtained his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of California, Merced. He is currently pursuing a M.S. in Bioengineering and Small-scale Technologies at the same institution. During his free time Thompson plays the alto sax in the pep band and surfs the internet.

Chenji Gu

Chenji Gu joined the Applied Photonics Group in Aug. 2007 to pursue his Ph.D. degree. His research works focus on fundamentals and applications of ultrafast four-wave-mixing process for tunable light sources, i.e., fiber optical parametric oscillators (FOPOs) in the femosecond and picosecond regimes. He got Ph.D. in Physics at UC Merced in Dec. 2012. Before coming to US, he received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Southeast University, Nanjing, China in 2004 and 2007 respectively. His current research interests include experimental and theoretical studies on nonlinear fiber optics and ultrafast optics. During his spare time he enjoys visiting a variety of places in California.