Allegheny College to Host One-Day Women in Physics Conference

With the goal of boosting women’s prominence in the field of physics, Allegheny College will host a free Women in Physics conference on Saturday, November 9, in Carr Hall. The event starts with registration at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 7 p.m. The day will include poster presentations, a career panel discussion, and a seminar on negotiating professional positions and sharpening communication skills.

“Seventy-three percent of all physicists are men,” says Adele Poynor, assistant professor of physics at Allegheny. “This is a chance to get women together, build a community, and inspire and support one another.”

Allegheny students share their physics summer research symposium projects in 2018. (Photo by Ed Mailliard)

The conference organizers — who include Poynor and senior Allegheny students Grace Rohaley, Olivia Krieger, Anna Campbell Sowden, Juliana Sebolt and Sarah Seitanakis — hope to attract dozens of women from the Ohio-New York-Pennsylvania region, ranging from high school students, current undergraduate physics majors, and women who already work in the industry.

“Those in attendance will also have the opportunity to network with other fellow physicists as well as many leaders in academia and industry in an environment where all can share their experiences, advice and ideas,” Poynor says. “There are lots of jobs in physics; not everyone becomes a college professor.”

The keynote address will be delivered by Carolyn Kuranz, associate research professor at the Center for Laser Experimental Astrophysical Research in Michigan. Also speaking will be Kristi Caldwell, a physics teacher in the Palmyra-Macedon School District in New York; Caitlyn Neidig, a 2012 Allegheny graduate who is an engineer at PPG Industries; Barbara Dunlap, a 2009 Allegheny graduate who is a senior research associate at the Ohio State University Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry, and Brianne Hitchner, a 2014 Allegheny graduate and a signal processing engineer at Lockheed Martin.

The two-hour seminar on mastering negotiation and communication skills starts at 1 p.m. Participants will learn how to negotiate a graduate, postdoctoral or professional position in academia, industry or a national laboratory; interact positively on teams or with a mentor; think tactically; enhance personal presence; develop alliances, and achieve professional goals. It is possible to register for, and attend, just this seminar, Poynor says.

This will mark the second Women in Physics conference at Allegheny. “We did it in 2017, and the students created the entire program. We had about 30 attendees from seven schools and some high school students. The goal is for the conference to travel around the region. We’re hoping more schools will take it up,” Poynor says.

The conference is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the American Physical Society, and the Barbara Lotze Endowed Lectureship Fund. Those interested can register online for the conference here. Registrations are due Thursday, Oct. 31.