Group of students walking

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


Our Goals

The Physics Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee is focused on furthering diversity and on creating a welcoming and inclusive climate where everyone can thrive and be academically successful.  We are especially invested in increasing the population of underrepresented groups in physics and in actively promoting a cultural change within our department and the larger field of stem.

The committee includes representatives from undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and all levels of faculty. Everyone in the department is welcome to provide input through email, via in person/zoom meetings, as well as through the anonymous inclusion feedback form. The committee presents at departmental gatherings and organizes informational and training events. Meetings between the committee and similar committees in other departments are aimed at establishing best practices and coordinating across departments.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Action Plan

  • Improve recruitment and retention strategies for underrepresented graduate and undergraduate students in physics
  • Provide suggestions for inclusive online, hybrid, and hyflex teaching. Please check out the recommendations compiled by the Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Work with the department to include a track for physics majors with low or limited previous exposure to physics/calculus, and to develop a PairUP program aimed at increasing communication among first year undergraduates and the rest of the department 
  • Work on creating/finding summer research fellowships, scholarship possibilities for underrepresented students and scholars in physics
  • Prepare code of conducts and policies to help facilitate the cultural change and the development of an inclusive and anti-bias working and learning environment 
  • Organize community events for women and URMs in physics 
  • Support our international colleagues and create the best environment for all
  • Work with the campus wide diversity committee to make sure STEM departments achieve a diverse student, faculty, and staff body in which everybody can thrive and develop to their full potential
  • Support underrepresented groups in physics in all aspects of their academic pursuits
Valeria Villegas-Medina

Majoring in Physics

Why should you become a Physics major?

Condemning the anti-Asian violence in Atlanta

Condemning the anti-Asian violence in Atlanta

Committee Activities

Inviting diverse speakers

K. Renee Horton discussed the importance of inclusion, her work at NASA and her nontraditional educational path

Horton's Talk

"This is Physics" display outside Crow 201

Posters highlighting prominent and successful scientists from underrepresented and minoritized groups in physics

This Is Physics

Why Be a Physics Major?

Develop the skills to go further in physics, and other fields in graduate school and on the job market

Slides shared with Intro Physics Courses
Students walking on campus

Department Demographics

We are committed to increasing diversity in our department. The first step in our journey is to acknowledge and quantify the problem. Here you can find graphs displaying the demographics of all students and faculty in the Department of Physics.


Faculty Members Distance Themselves from Controversial Statements by Katz

A response from Department of Physics faculty members to the controversial 2017 op-ed by Professor Katz


Pfeiffer Physics Library

Closure of our Physics Library by the WU Library system.

Physics Library

Upcoming Opportunities

We've created an Opportunities page to highlight upcoming conferences and meetings that could be of interest to our students.

Explore Opportunities

Good News!

Washington University is now a sustaining member of the Scholars at Risk Network. Attacks on academic freedom and higher education are frequent, pervasive, and have wide-ranging—at times deadly—consequences for scholars, students, and society at large. These attacks occur in closed societies, where the right to think and speak freely is routinely oppressed, and amid political and economic crises and armed conflict that put scholars and students in especially vulnerable situations. But they also occur in more open, democratic, and stable societies, leaving no country immune from their threat. State and non-state actors, including armed militant and extremist groups, police and military forces, government authorities, off-campus groups, and even members of higher education communities, among others, carry out these attacks, which often result in deaths, injuries, deprivations of liberty, and the upending of scholars’ and students’ academic careers. The Scholars at Risk Network protects scholars suffering grave threats to their lives, liberty and well-being by arranging temporary research and teaching positions at institutions in our network as well as by providing advisory and referral services.


JPP Program

We have been working with the Joint Post-baccalaureate Program (JPP), as well as the departments of Mathematics and Earth and Planetary Sciences to be able to bring in a total of six JPP students in the Fall of 2023. Two students will be accepted to each program. The JPP program in Mathematics, Physics, and Earth and Planetary Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis is designed to prepare exceptional individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in any one of these or related fields to make the transition to graduate school to pursue the Ph.D. Participants will engage in a rigorous plan of study consisting of upper-level coursework and other field specific activities in a nurturing environment under the guidance of a faculty mentor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Learn More

Pronouns and Pronunciation

We've added a new page, Pronouns and Pronunciation, to the website for faculty and students who would like to add their personal pronouns to Canvas or create a recording of their name for Canvas or their email signature.

Summer 2022 DEI Fellowships

Aaron Fisher, Mario Jauregui, and Rosie Torrez were awarded DEI summer fellowships this year. The DEI Committee created the summer research fellowship to support high school and undergraduate students from underrepresented and minoritized groups in Physics.

Mario worked with Mikhail Tikhonov last summer and explained the research, "Evolution is the mechanism by which an organism can become highly fit within its environment. However, the evolutionary process is biased in the sense that beneficial mutations are favored, suggesting that the evolution favors a subset of paths toward high fitness. Hence, evolution produces only a subset of all possible highly-fit genotypes. The goal of this project was to show, within a simplified theoretical model, how a highly evolved genotype can indeed differ from a 'typical' high fitness genotype, and how these differences can contribute to some measurable property – its robustness to environmental change. We were able to show that there are structural differences between evolved and typical high-fitness genotypes. The next part was to demonstrate that these differences correspond to some biological effect. Environmental robustness is a measure of how resistant an organism is to perturbations in its environment (extreme examples include climate change, habitat destruction, etc.). We have yet to confirm whether highly evolved genotypes and high-fitness genotypes differ in this regard. We did show that, within the set of highly evolved genotypes, robustness varies depending on the initial structure of a genotype. In other words, initial conditions matter.

"Research is a commitment that is very rewarding. I learned how to be very thorough in my investigations while simultaneously refining my approach to be more efficient with time. This experience was a great opportunity to practice making figures and having scientific conversations. Without the research group, I would have never had the opportunity to practice expressing my ideas and findings in a way that is clear and understandable for those not in my field of study. There is a goal of publishing these findings in an academic journal."


Alison Verbeck and Sarah Akin attended the February 25, 2022 APS IDEA workshop. The goals of the workshop were to reenergize the teams and decrease the sense of isolation, highlight examples of second order change through activism, and reinforce basic ideas of second order change. In addition, they created a driver diagram to help set a path for future work. 

Outstanding Achievements in Physics

On October 29, 2021, the DEI committee teamed up with the Women in Physics committee for a ceremony honoring several faculty members and students who won awards recently. Professors Sachiko Amari (Urey Award), Erik Henriksen (NSF CAREER award), Nan Liu (Nier Prize) and Maria Piarulli (DOE Early Career Award) and students Jackson Butler (Barry Goldwater Scholarship), Garrett King (DOE NNSA Stewardship), and Lindsey Lisalda (AWF Student Award) were honored.

More Good News from DEI

Committee Members

Help us to provide the best possible experience for all our undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, research staff, and administrative personnel by contacting the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee or one of the members below in case of concerns and/or if you have any suggestions for improving our program.


The Physics Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee welcomes input from all members of the community on ways the department can better foster an inclusive environment. Individuals are welcome to set up a one-on-one or group meeting with any of the committee members listed above for a private conversation. Alternatively, comments may be submitted anonymously to a chosen member of the committee or the entire committee using our feedback form.

Submit Feedback

WashU Resources

  • WashU Cares

    WashU Cares assists the university in handling situations involving the safety and well-being of Danforth Campus students, including online reporting.

  • SafeZones

    Undergraduate SafeZones is a peer facilitation group that educates and fosters discussion around LGBTQIA* issues in order to promote the development of a more open and inclusive university community.

  • Uncle Joe's Peer Counseling Resource Center

    Uncle Joe's offers highly trained peer counselors for undergraduates.

  • Mental Health Services

    Mental Health Services (MHS) at WashU is committed to providing a safe, inclusive and affirming community of care for all students.

  • Center for Diversity and Inclusion

    The CDI supports and advocates for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

  • Bias Reporting

    Reporting system for students, faculty, staff, and community members who have experienced or witnessed incidents of bias, prejudice, or discrimination.