Dr. E. J. Downie is Associate Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives within the Columbian College. She is also Professor of Physics (2021, Assistant Professor Jan 2012 - August 2015, Associate Professor Sept. 2015 - Aug. 2021) at the George Washington University. Prior to GW, Dr Downie was a Carl Zeiss Research Fellow at the Institut fuer Kernphysik at Johannes Gutenberg University, Germany (2008 - 2011) and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Glasgow, UK (2007 - 2008). She was awarded her Masters in Science with first class honors in Physics from the University of Glasgow in 2002 and her PhD in Nuclear Physics in 2007.
Dr Downie is spokesperson of the MUSE collaboration, a group of around sixty physicists, who will perform the MUon Scattering Experiment, an experiment to determine the radius of the proton via elastic muon scattering at that the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. MUSE is a key future experiment in the quest to resolve the Proton Radius Puzzle, one of the most prominent current issues in hadronic physics, which has been featured in Nature, Science, Scientific American and New Scientist. She is coPI of two experiments and lead PI of one experiment at the MAMI accelerator in Mainz, Germany which are designed to access the nucleon polarisabilities via elastic photon nucleon (Compton) scattering. Two of the three programs have begun taking data and the first results from one have been published in PRL, giving the world's first experimental extraction of the nucleon spin polarizabilities, and the other in EPJ giving the first extraction of the scalar polarizabilities from a photon asymmetry. Polarizabilities are fundamental quantities of much theoretical interest, and importance across a wide range of disciplines. Dr Downie has 75 peer-reviewed publications and an h-index of 33.
Dr Downie's research is supported by an NSF grant on which she is the lead PI, and one DOE grant on which she is coPI. She previously ran an NSF-sponsored International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program, which took up to six undergraduates to MAMI each year to gain research skills. The IRES program involved nineteen students, nine of whom were from underrepresented groups and four of whom continued with Dr. Downie for their senior research thesis projects. Until December 2014, Dr Downie also supervised postdoctoral researcher Dr Vahe Sokhoyan, who has now been awarded a Carl Zeiss Fellowship. Dr Sokhoyan's successor, Dr Cristina Collicott also left Dr Downie's group in December 2016 to take up a Carl Zeiss Fellowship, and Dr Alexander Golossanov left in May 2021 to take up a position at the University of Basel. In addition to these formal supervisory roles, she has supervised very many PhD students and undergraduates informally, especially in her roles as Technical Coordinator and Analysis Coordinator of the A2 experiment at MAMI.
In addition to her research, Dr Downie takes her teaching responsibilities very seriously. Since starting at GW, she has taught 370 students in College Physics I, where she employs modern Scale-Up methodology, coupled with DBER techniques to continually reevaluate and improve the course and her teaching methods. She aims to have her students, who are primarily taking the class to fulfill a requirement, recognize the value of, and gain appreciation for and understanding of physics. Each semester she has taught the class, at least one of her students has changed major to physics or biophysics.
Prof. Downie is committed to improving the diversity and quality of the physics department. She was a Physics Undergraduate Advisor and was very active in the undergraduate committee, working to improve advising and the educational quality of the undergraduate program. In recognition of her efforts, she was elected to membership of Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society. Dr Downie leads the Women and Gender Minorities In Physics group in the department, mentoring and encouraging under-represented students in physics at all career stages, and was PI of the GW Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics, which took place in January 2018. She has also made a concerted effort to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ issues which may affect students and other physicists, and arrange appropriate training, in order to make the department as safe and welcoming as possible, She is also actively building relationships with Montgomery College and NOVA to provide a recruitment pipeline of high quality, diverse students into the Columbian College, through the IRES program, CUWiP, and her MUSE work. Within the Compton Scattering community, she is often responsible for collaboration and discussion between labs, such as coordinating the response to the NSAC Long Range Plan efforts, proposing and organizing a polarizability workshop at ECT in Trento Italy in 2013, and giving very many invited plenary talks, colloquia and seminars.
She was recently part of the Chair-Line of the National Organizing Committee for the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics. She was also trained as a Skills Seminar Leader for the APS Skills Seminar on Communication and Negotiation Training for Women and has led workshops at Georgetown, Harvard, Rochester, Colorado College, Syracuse, the University of West Virginia, GW and the APS April meeting for audiences from undergraduate students to faculty. She is a member of the national APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics, and is a member of DOE and NSF's Nuclear Science Advisory Committee.