Monday, January 23, 2017

The 2017 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

The 2017 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) was held at several locations from January 13-16.   The locations included: Montana State University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of California–Los Angeles, University of Colorado–Boulder, Wayne State University, McMaster University, Princeton University, Harvard University, Virginia Tech, and Rice University.  Four students from JMU – Maria Gordon, Tara Jobin, Yvonne Kinsella, and Catherine Witherspoon –  attended the Conference held at Virginia Tech.

The weekend started out with dinner on Friday night, where Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt, an astrophysicist working at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and as adjunct faculty at UVA, talked about her career and her journey to becoming a physicist.  Her talk also presented the science of NRAO, with emphasis on how it was being built and its importance to the radio astronomy community.

Saturday brought four more physicists talking about their work, including Dr. Kate Scholberg of Duke University,  Connie Li from the Naval Research Labs, Dr. Laurie McNeil of the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and Dr. Laura Greene of Florida State University and Chief Scientist at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.

Also on Saturday, Yvonne Kinsella and Catherine Witherspoon presented their research posters. 

Left to Right:  Yvonne Kinsella, Maria Gordon, Tara Jobin, Catherine Witherspoon

The day ended with an informative panel on Professional Skills led by Dr. Laura Greene, Dr. Kate Scholberg, Dr. Jeri Brunson (Naval Research Labs), and Miranda Bard (staff at American Physical Society).  The plenary sessions of the next day were on Diversity and Inclusion by Dr. Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice provost for diversity and inclusion at Virginia Tech, and a panel hosted by Dr. Pratt-Clarke, Dr. Laura Greene, Dr. Kate Scholberg, and Dr. Leo Piilonen (Virginia Tech).

Throughout the last morning of CUWiP 2017, we had the opportunity to chose sessions of talks with topics that ranged from professional life after undergraduate school to presentations of the variety of fields of study  that physics offer as potential career choices. 
The program for the Conference's Sunday Sessions

The effort of the  organizers of CUWiP 2017 at Virginia Tech resulted in a weekend full of valuable advice from professional role models, and offered great resources for those contemplating their futures after they finish undergraduate schooling.   We certainly appreciated the opportunity to attend.