University of Pennsylvania Conference Promotes Women in Physics

The Women in Physics group at the University of Pennsylvania recently hosted its fifth annual spring conference and networking event. Participating students had the opportunity to meet informally and share their work with Beth Willman, a world-renowned astronomer and deputy director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

The conference was founded in 2013 to provide students with strong women role models and to support women studying physics through scholarship, mentorship, and social activities.

“It’s a positive message that [Dr. Willman] is a strong, leading woman in a field that’s usually dominated by men,” says junior Olivia Sylvester from Mendham, New Jersey, a board member of the group. “In addition to learning about what she has to say about her research, you’re also taking in the fact that she’s probably overcome a lot of barriers to achieve such great success.”

Dr. Beth Willman

The conference began with a morning get-together with Dr. Willman, undergraduate students, and several researchers from the department of physics and astronomy at Penn. Next, the group of undergraduate students presented their summer research projects to Dr. Willman, who asked them both technical and philosophical questions regarding their research as well as providing them feedback on their results. The final event of the conference was a public lecture from the noted woman astronomer, which was attended by more than 70 students, faculty, and other members of the Penn community.

In her presentation, Dr. Willman stressed that increasing diversity in the astronomy field will benefit both science and society.

“Everything that’s required in the future of scientific progress requires diversity,” she says. “Bringing ideas and people together is beneficial, and science needs as many viewpoints as possible.”

Filed Under: DiversityNetworkingSTEM Fields


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