Wesleyan Hosts Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

More than 200 women undergraduates from the North East who are majoring in physics attended the American Physical Society Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP)

Attendees from the American Physical Society Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics gathered for a group photo. Wesleyan is the first liberal arts college to host a CUWiP.  Pictured in red at far left, assistant professor Chris Othon, and pictured at far right, assistant professor Meredith Hughes co-organized the conference at Wesleyan.

More than 200 women undergraduates from the Northeast attended the American Physical Society Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) Jan. 15-17 at Wesleyan. Wesleyan was one of nine institutions from around the country to host a conference. (View an extensive recap of the conference starting on Page 8 of this APS newsletter.)

The APS CUWiP provides female physics majors with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics with whom they can share experiences, advice and ideas.

The program included panel discussions about graduate school and careers in physics, presentations and discussions about women in physics, laboratory tours, student research talks, a student poster session, banquet and career fair.

Participants had the opportunity to network and interact with more than 200 fellow undergraduate women physicists as well as a variety of industrial and academic leaders.

From Wesleyan, 10 undergraduates, nine graduates, 11 faculty members and eight alumni participated in the event. Chris Othon, assistant professor of physics, assistant professor of integrative sciences, and Meredith Hughes, assistant professor of astronomy, assistant professor of integrative sciences co-organized the conference at Wesleyan.

“It was amazing to have so many bright, curious and ambitious young female physicists taking over Exley Science Center this weekend,” Hughes said. “When it came time to compile the scores and comments from the faculty judging the student posters and talks, it was clear that everyone was just floored by the quality of the research and the infectious enthusiasm of the student presenters. It was also amazing to see the wide range of careers showcased by the panelists (many of whom were Wes alumni), with women taking their physics degrees and using them to make robots, understand neurons through circuit diagrams, write comic books with scientific superheroes, and teach at every level.”

Many members of the Wesleyan science community, from Wesleyan students, staff and faculty, pitched in to make the conference run smoothly.

“It was wonderful to see how invested everyone was in making the conference a success and promoting women in physics,” Othon said. “I think the influence of all of the Wesleyan faculty, students and alumni who presented during the meeting went a long way in showcasing the strengths of combining high-quality teaching and scientific research in the context of a liberal arts environment. It is essential to provide students a sense of community and support in a discipline where they are dramatically under-represented. I think we were really successful in providing that opportunity.”

Photos of the CUWiP are below: (Photos by John Van Vlack and Olivia Drake)

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