|The attendees of the 2018 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics at University of Virginia|
The 2018 regional APS Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) was held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA and was held from Friday, Jan 12th – Sunday, Jan 14th. The JMU Physics & Astronomy students attended the event were: Natali Bushamani (’18), Yvonne Kinsella (’18), Katie Porter (’18), Alle Goodis (’19), Maeven Luedke (’20), Sloane McNeill (’20), Nicole Voce (’20), Mary Ogborn (’21), and Aliyah Hall (’21). Dr. Iona Niculescu, also from JMU, was a member of Sunday’s panel on undergraduate research.
The weekend opened on Friday night with a speech from the University of Virginia’s provost, Dr. Thomas Katsouleas, followed by the first keynote talk given by Prof. Elizabeth H. Simmons, who is the Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at UC San Diego.
On Saturday, the day began with lab tours that the attendees chose from which include the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, The Radiation Oncology Center at the UVA Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center, as well as various labs related to materials science and engineering, theoretical physics, and experimental physics.
In the late morning, various short presentations were given by many women during which they discussed their own paths in physics and how gendered issues made an impact on them. The speakers included: Prof. Gail Dodge, the Dean of A&S at Old Dominion University, Dr. Cynthia Keppel, the leader of Jefferson Lab Halls A & C, Prof. Christine Nattrass, assistant professor at University of Tennessee, Prof. Petra Reinke, associate professor of materials science at University of Virginia, Dr. Stefania Perrucci, a business woman from Philadelphia, and Prof. Fulvia Pilat, a scientist at Oak Ridge National Lab.
|Dr. Patricia Burchat, the national keynote speaker|
for CUWiP 2018.
In the afternoon, the national conference keynote speaker’s presentation was livestreamed to all Dr. Patricia Burchat, The Gabilan Professor of the Physics Department at Stanford University, spoke about her life and research. Her bio in the event program explains how she is a first-generation high school graduate from a small area of Canada that didn’t even have a high until she started the ninth grade. She is part of an international team of scientists that are preparing for analysis of data from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.locations.
The second keynote speaker for the UVa conference, Prof. Shohini Ghose. Her bio from the even program states that her research examines the laws of quantum physics for how they can be harnessed to transform computation and communication, and that she and her colleagues made the first ever experimental observations of a connection between chaos theory and quantum entanglement. She is also the founder of Laurier University’s Research Centre for Women in Science (WinS).
|The break-out session on career paths in physics|
Sunday consisted of multiple breakout sessions. Attendees chose three of the twelve to attend. The topics included: science policy, undergraduate research, APS Step-Up for Women, Resilience, What is graduate school like?, career paths in physics, work/life balance, mental health, professional skills/communication/negotiation, solidarity/mentorship/sponsorship/allies, brilliance, and impostor syndrome.
Overall, the conference was a positive experience for the undergraduates who attended in its ability to inform students of some of the gendered issues in the physics world and spread awareness of the resources that exist for dealing with those issues, to expose students to exciting research in various areas of physics, and to help students find resources for developing professional skills to give them the tools they need to excel.