NEWPORT NEWS, VA. -- Several hundred young women – from across the country – will gather Jan. 15-17 to learn about many career and research opportunities available in fields associated with physics. They will be attending one of nine regional events, dubbed the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), taking place from Virginia to California and from New York to Texas.
Locally, Old Dominion University and Jefferson Lab are co-hosting a regional event that will include more than 150 students representing 35 colleges and universities from Virginia; North Carolina; Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Delaware and New Jersey.
The female, undergraduate physics majors will participate in a variety of special events, panel discussions, workshops and a poster session at Old Dominion University. For much of Jan. 16 the group will be at the Department of Energy’s Jefferson Lab – touring the facility, attending a Graduate School and Career Fair, and hearing from prominent women scientists from across the country.
“ODU and Jefferson Lab are excited to be hosting one of the 2016 CUWiP conferences,” commented Gail Dodge, a professor of Physics at ODU and a member of the 1,300-plus researchers who use Jefferson Lab facilities to conduct fundamental physics experiments. “The conference will allow these young women to explore career opportunities for physicists through activities such as a tour of Jefferson Lab, research presentations, discussion panels, and opportunities for networking.”
When asked about the value of CUWiP conferences, Dodge said, “Women are underrepresented in physics. Often they take classes or work in research groups where they are the only woman and they may have few if any role models in physics. These conferences provide a valuable service by introducing women physicists to each other and providing a forum in which they can learn about career options, professional skills, applying for jobs, getting involved in research, applying to graduate school, and exciting subfields within physics.”
“We hope that the conference will encourage women to complete their major in physics and pursue a career in physics,” Dodge continued. “Ultimately, it is important for the future of our country that we involve talented women and men from all races and minority groups in technical fields because the STEM workforce is a critical engine for innovation and economic development.”
The CUWiP goal is to help undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.
The first CUWiP took place at the University of Southern California in 2006, and has grown every year since then. The American Physical Society became the institutional home for CUWiP in 2012. CUWiP is supported in part by the National Science Foundation and by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.