The University of Chicago Department of Physics values the benefits that diversity -- of people, backgrounds, perspectives, and ideas -- brings to life and to science. We are committed to creating a positive, respectful environment of shared inquiry and learning for all members of our community, and we concur with the President and Provost’s statement on diversity (Feb 2020), which emphasizes that “we must be an intellectual community where all scholars feel welcome, heard, and encouraged to do their best work."
The Department of Physics welcomes your insights regarding diversity and inclusion in our department. If you have thoughts or ideas you would like to share, we encourage you to contact the Department Chair, Peter Littlewood, or any member of the Department's Committee for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion:
- Paul Chichura (graduate student), Nina Coyle (graduate student), Kristin Dona (graduate student), Kat Downey (undergraduate), Elise Hinkle (graduate student), Katrina Howard (graduate student), Kaeli Hughes (graduate student), Young-Kee Kim (Physics Department Chair), Jeff McMahon (faculty), Viraj Manwadkar (undergraduate), David Reid (Dept. Lecturer), David Schmitz (EDI Committee Chair), Linda Young (faculty)
Below you will find a sampling of some of the things going on in and around the Department. Please contact any of us to learn more.
Fostering a Positive Climate for All
Every member of our community plays an essential role in creating the type of professional and inclusive climate that we aim for within the Department. Expectations for conduct can be found in the official statement of University policies and regulations, which begins:
"The University of Chicago is a community of scholars dedicated to research, academic excellence, and the pursuit and cultivation of learning in an environment where the free and open expression of ideas and critical questions are paramount. Every member of the University - student, faculty, and staff - makes a commitment to strive for personal and academic integrity; to treat others with dignity and respect; to honor the rights and property of others; to take responsibility for individual and group behavior; and to act as a responsible citizen in a free academic community and in the larger society. Any student conduct, on or off campus, of individuals or groups, that threatens or violates this commitment may become a matter for action within the University's system of student discipline."
EDI Strategic Plan
The UChicago Physics Department EDI Committee has recently completed a first version of an EDI Strategic Plan. This document will serve as a guide as we continue the important work of making our physics community a place where everyone can thrive. Organized into pillars of Infrastructure, Climate, People, and Community, we have listed specific goals and objectives we think are important to prioritize in the coming years.
Please feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions or thoughts. The EDI Committee will be responsible for tracking progress on items, adding new items as they come up, and soliciting feedback from department members on a regular basis.
Activities and Links
Our department joined the APS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA) program. The APS IDEA is a new initiative with a mission of empowering and supporting physics departments, laboratories, and other organizations to identify and enact strategies for improving equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). It will do so by establishing a community of transformation.
Our department develops community outreach programs and supports existing ones. We strongly encourage community involvement as part of department culture. You can find information and links to many of the Department's programs on the Outreach Page.
The Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and the Department of Physics jointly run NSF supported REU programs (Research Experience for Undergraduates) that bring a diverse group of undergraduate students to UChicago to experience an environment of research, academic development, and social and professional networking.
The University of Chicago has forged a partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), known as UChicago-AIMS. This partnership "...encourages UChicago faculty to collaborate with AIMS faculty in the development of new curriculum and experimental program content, and to explore joint research projects and future academic collaborations." We also anticipate that this partnership will help bring students into our programs. The UChicago-AIMS faculty working group is co-chaired by two physics faculty members: Peter Littlewood (left) and Paul Wiegmann (right).
The mission of the UChicago Society of Women in Physics (SWiP) is to create a supportive environment for all undergraduate students in the physics department through mentorship programs, quarterly speaker events, and other activities that allow students to engage with each other, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty members in both academic and social settings. For more information please visit our website or join our listhost for weekly updates.
Our upcoming events are listed below:
Study Buddy Speed Dating (Oct 4, 1st week)
"Careers in Physics: Tech" Panel with Google (Oct 7, 2nd week)
Mentorship Program Signups and Kickoff (3rd week)
Quarterly Speakers: Meredith Williams (Oct 23, 4th week), Gayle Ratliff (Nov 17, 8th week)
University of Chicago Women and Gender Minorities in Physics is an active part of the Physics department that strives to include and empower undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral scholars. We host and participate in a variety of professional development events including our biweekly Women in Physics Research talks involving speakers from various fields of research and many Universities, and annual visits to Argonne and Fermilab.
The group actively participates in events promoting inclusiveness in academia and spreads awareness of key issues relevant to women and minorities pursuing scientific careers. There is a strong relationship between this group and the undergraduate SWiP program, including one-on-one mentorships and combined events.
During the summer our members are strongly involved in the REU program, offering help and guidance for women considering scientific pursuits and applying for graduate school. Along with supporting members' academic ambitions, they also foster an open community by hosting social events, such as monthly dinners and socials, that bring together students, postdocs, and faculty at the University of Chicago.
Our department and university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for racial and ethnic minorities. If you are from the "Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Physics" group and wish to join this group, please go to https://lists.uchicago.edu/web/subscribe/remip and subscribe firstname.lastname@example.org
Our department and university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for sexual and gender minorities.
The LGBTQIA+ Physicists Group, formed in 2020, meets occasionally for social events and is in the process of planning what other types of events and advocacy we want to do. The purpose of this group is to provide a space to socialize within the department and to advocate for the needs of LGBTQIA+ members of the physics community. We invite any members of the department who identify as LGBTQIA+ to join the mailing list to receive emails about events and ways to get involved.
Margaret Gardel is a faculty mentor for any students in the Physics Department with questions or concerns on LGBTQ+ issues.
The PSD EDI Office maintains an LGBTQ+ OutList here.
The Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) Student Life at UChicago provides local resources and community for students and postdocs. UChicago also has a chapter of oSTEM.
The American Physical Society also provides resources, including a 2015 climate report for LGBT+ Physicists, which resulted in the creation of a networking resource for LGBT+ Physicists.
The Women in Graduate Science come together at least once per quarter and span several departments in the Physical Sciences and Molecular Engineering.
The GradInfluences program is a graduate student organized initiative aimed at fostering graduate connections within the department, by pairing incoming students with upper year students who are experienced in navigating academic and personal issues. Incoming students are paired with a compatible upper-year student (via a short survey) and then encouraged to meet throughout the year for coffee, which is paid for by the department. Through this program, each student will get access to the resources and network of their mentor, as well as have easy access to a mentor that can answer questions about the department or campus life. Each mentor will receive training from the Health Promotion and Wellness office at UChicago, in order to learn best practices for helping their mentee with any personal issues they may face. The mentors and mentees will receive support from the program leaders as well, in order to ensure quality mentorship.
Expectations for the mentors:
- Eligibility: have completed their first year in the UChicago physics program.
- Required Training: 1 hour during the fall semester.
- Time Commitment with mentee: 3 coffee dates / year (reimbursed by phys dept), but you're encouraged to meet more often.
- Be available online for advice.
- Be open to sharing your network of resources and others around you.
Note: Due to COVID-19, the 2020-2021 program will have event changes to ensure student safety (such as virtual meetings).