Duke University hosted the American Physical Society Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) from January 16-18, 2015. Prof. Kristen Thompson, Ginny Perkey, Grace Watt '15, Kari Sickles '16 and Rebecca Garner '16 attended the conference in Raleigh, NC.
About 135 undergraduate physicists from around the Southeast attended presentations and panel discussions on careers, professional skills, work-life balance, graduate school and research opportunities. Thompson conducted a workshop entitled, "Careers in Astronomy and Geophysics," and Perkey presented a workshop entitled, "Communicating Science to the General Public." Senior physics major, Grace Watt, presented "Understanding LED Function and Exploring Mechanisms of Energy Loss."
Watt shared some thoughts about the conference:
The Women in Physics conference gave its undergraduate participants a look into the greater physics community and purposefully demonstrated the wide spectrum of possibilities with a physics background. Professionals ranging from lawyers to academics to those in Silicon Valley shared stories of the paths they followed to arrive at their current locations.
There were workshops discussing professional skills, marketing oneself, and the practicalities of life and family as a physicist. We were surrounded by people of like mind and like vocabulary; no one refrained from letting lose their passion and launching into a full explanation about a tiny subcategory of condensed matter physics.
I grew closer to my peers and found graduate students and professors were more than willing to share their nuggets of wisdom. The conference gave us space to ponder life as a physicist and to stop and consider many different visions of how physics could be applied in our lives. I would highly suggest attending a physics conference to undergraduate physics majors because we are already a part of that huge culture of physicist and it's invaluable to experience this world in person. Lastly, it allowed me to compare and contrast my Davidson experience with physics students from a variety of schools and I left beaming with pride for my school and my physics department."