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.
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.
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