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
  • Conduct a department wide survey on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to better understand the current state of the physics department
  • Organize Hot Topic discussions centered on the work environment, intellectual atmosphere, and fighting workplace harassment and discrimination
  • 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?

Celebrating Black History Month

Celebrating Black History Month

The DEI Committee is part of APS IDEA

The DEI Committee is part of APS IDEA

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


Upcoming Events

McDonnell Distinguished Lecture: The Dark Side of the Universe with speaker Katherine Freese, Jeff & Gail Kodosky Professor of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin

More Info

Good News!

WashU Physicists attended the NSBP Conference

On November 5-8, 2020, Chipo Raranje, a senior undergraduate student majoring in Physics, and DEI members Valeria Villegas and Saori Pastore were sponsored by the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences and the Department of Physics to attend the National Society of Black Physicists Conference. Chipo expressed her enthusiasm for being able to participate in this event and said, "The National Society of Black Physicists conference was a unique and eye-opening experience for me. As a black woman in physics, I often do not see many people who look like me in the discipline. Being able to learn about the different innovative research being done in labs across America by physicists of color really reminded me that people who look like me also belong in physics." Valeria also appreciated the opportunity and said, "It was my first time attending the NSBP this year, and I hope to never miss it again! Even though I do not identify as Black, I nonetheless felt an overwhelming sense of community while participating in several breakout sessions on navigating life as a minority physicist. It was also encouraging to see all of the institutions genuinely invested in diversifying the field, especially as a PhD applicant. I think everyone truly committed in promoting diversity in physics should attend!"  The NBSP is a very interesting scientific conference and we really hope that more students will participate in the coming years. If you are interested in attending next year, please contact one of the members of the DEI Committee.

Well Attended SafeZones Training!

On August 13, 2020, the Department of Physics hosted a very successful SafeZones training session. Thirty nine faculty, staff and students attended, sixteen of whom were faculty members.

These trainings really change your perspectives and open your eyes to your own biases. This training promotes safer and more secure living, learning and research environments for WashU’s LGBTQIA* students.

If you missed the training, you may schedule a one hour session here.



Congratulations Barry Henaku on the USTAR fellowship!

Screenshot of the Zoom collaboration meeting of Prof. Henriksen's group

Barry Henaku was supported for 10 weeks of summer research under Washington University’s USTAR program, aimed at helping rising sophomores break into their first research experiences. Under the direction of Prof. Henriksen, he studied the technique of using defects in diamonds as “quantum sensors”, whereby one uses a green laser to illuminate these nanometer-scale defects and observe the intensity of the re-emitted red light. The intensity will vary depending on the strength of external magnetic fields and so can be used as a sensor. Henaku read a number of original papers, and assembled a parts list for a basic experimental setup. This enabled him to build such an “optically-detected magnetic resonance” (ODMR) capability at home, with which he can learn how to carry out this measurement with the goal of ultimately helping to build a new experimental capability in the Henriksen lab on his return to campus.

Katie Randolph (left) with her friend
and colleague, Aline Arra

A message from our former DEI member and awesome scholar, Katie Randolph - We will miss you, too!

I came to the physics department for a master’s fellowship as a JPP scholar with the ultimate research goal of using biophysics to advance sustainable energy technologies.  While here, I worked on research in cellular biophysics with Shankar Mukherji. I also acted as a graduate student peer mentor, a mentor to undergraduates through the Women in Physics program, as well as a committee member for DEI, outreach, & GradSem. Upon completion of my Master of Physics, I was offered a position as a PhD student in Buz Barstow’s lab at Cornell’s Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering. This lab focuses on sustainable energy development through a myriad of systems! As part of my offer, I received the Sloan Fellowship, a prestigious award from Cornell Engineering that affords me a competitive base stipend as well as 10k in professional development funds. I am excited to move on to the next phase of my career, but I could not have done it without the wonderful support & intellectual development I gained from this department! I will miss you all!  


International Scholars

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee in the department of Physics delivered a letter to WashU administrators on Monday, July 6th, 2020, in support of the international community in the wake of recent immigration restrictions.  

We asked WashU to take a stand with its international community members, to add to the voices of many other institutions and organizations that already have done so; to provide up-to-date, comprehensive, accessible, and consistent information across its web pages and regular communications from the OISS and to provide WashU visa holders appropriate tools to navigate the immigration system.

Letter in support of the WashU international community

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 the form below.

Please Note: Federal and University policies may require us to forward your feedback to appropriate University administrators. With this important caveat, the recipient of your choice will handle the feedback as privately as possible, and will contact the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee, department, or University personnel to address the circumstances that led to the feedback. The committee is unable to investigate interpersonal conflicts or potential policy violations. For guidance on addressing interpersonal conflicts or potential policy violations, the Offices of the Ombuds serve as confidential, independent, and impartial resources. For filing a formal complaint, use the Bias Report and Support System or contact Human Resources. If you are unsure whether you wish to file a formal complaint, you can contact a member of the Physics Department's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee for guidance on addressing interpersonal conflicts or potential policy violations.

Inclusion Feedback

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