skip to main content
Women in physics 04

Inspiration follows when 150 young scientists gather at Virginia Tech

In January 2017, the Department of Physics hosted the 2017 American Physical Society's Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP).

Nearly 150 East Coast early-career scientists attended the three-day conference. Events included research talks, panel discussions on graduate schools and careers in physics, and laboratory tours. Hosting the event for the first time, Virginia Tech was one of 10 national hosts for CUWiPs.

"As with previous events in this series, I was impressed with the energy and enthusiasm of all the students who attended Virginia Tech’s CUWiP," said Lara Anderson, assistant professor of physics, who organized the event with Associate Professor Giti Khodaparast. "The speakers and the participants formed an ongoing and many-voiced conversation that made us feel all the better and stronger for having it."

Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference 2017

Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference 2017
Professor Laurie McNeil of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill speaks about her science career at an afternoon session at Hahn Hall North.

Said Khodaparast, "We were fortunate to have leading scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Jefferson Labs, and regional universities to interact with students. All of these speakers took time to connect with the students." For instance, speaker Sabrina Stierwalt of the University of Virginia stayed after the opening night dinner to answer student questions for an hour and a half.

Professor Laura Greene of Florida State University, president of the American Physical Society, was one of the keynote speakers. Among the breakout group discussions was a session focused on resilience by women in the field of science, co-led by Department of Physics alumnae Chelsea Cook and Virginia Tech College of Engineering Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Bevlee Watford.

Attendees at Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference 2017

Attendees at Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference 2017
Attendees at Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference 2017 pose for photos. Attendees came from across the East Coast, with the majority from southeastern states.

Also included in sessions were a talk on LGBT issues in science co-led by Amanda Morris of the Department of Chemistry; a discussion of careers in physics teaching by Alma Robinson of Virginia Tech’s PhysTec program; and a session on careers combining law and physics, co-led by Anna-Marion Bieri, director of the college’s Science Technology and Law program. Additional Virginia Tech speakers included Sally C. Morton, dean of the College of Science, and Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity.