Professor Patricia Burchat - APS CUWiP Keynote Speaker

Professor Patricia Burchat

Patricia Burchat is the Gabilan Professor in the Physics Department at Stanford University. Her research focuses on studies of the Universe at both the smallest and the largest scales, to probe two questions: What is the Universe made of? What are the laws of physics that govern the constituents of the Universe? She has held a number of leadership positions in experiments at accelerators that probe the elementary particles and the fundamental interactions. She is now part of a large international team of scientists preparing for analysis of data from the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will provide the most extensive census of the Universe to date. She and her collaborators will use these data to investigate the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the cosmological evolution of the Universe.

Patricia Burchat is a “first-gen” high school graduate. She received her Bachelors degree in Engineering Science at University of Toronto in 1981, and her PhD in Physics from Stanford in 1986. She was a postdoc and faculty member at UC Santa Cruz before returning to Stanford as a faculty member in 1995. At Stanford, she has served as Chair of the Physics Department and has been very active in introducing research-based pedagogy in the teaching of physics. She has received the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching and the Walter J. Gores Award for excellence in teaching, and was elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. Patricia Burchat has played a leading role in the growth of the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics.

Dr. Renee Horton - Finding Mentors Workshop, Banquet Speaker

Dr. Renee Horton

Dr. Renee Horton completed a B.S. of Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math and a Ph.D. in Material Science with a concentration in Physics. She currently serves as the Space Launch System (SLS) Lead Metallic/Weld Engineer in the NASA Residential Management Office at Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. In her spare time, Dr. Horton serves as a role model for young women and has presented on topics such as Inclusion and Diversity in STEM.

Dr. Horton has experience advocating for and mentoring others to help them find their intersection between their talent and their passion. The Finding Mentors workshop will focus on how to make connections and foster professional relationships.

Dr. Vicky Kaspi - Queen's Keynote Speaker

Dr. Vicky Kaspi

Dr. Vicky Kaspi is an astrophysicist and a professor at McGill University. Dr. Kaspi completed her undergraduate studies at McGill, and went to Princeton University for her graduate studies. Her research centres on observational studies of neutron stars. She uses radio and X-ray telescopes to study pulsars, and is also the director of the McGill Space Institute.

Diversity in Physics Panel

The Diversity in Physics panel aims to provide an environment where students who belong to diverse/minority groups in physics can feel safe and ask questions about how their peers/other physicists have navigated the academic and industrial world. It also serves to bring up awareness and show support to diversity in physics.

The panel will be moderated by Francine Ford, the executive director for the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP). Francine facilitates the work of the Committee to Encourage Women in Physics and assists in the establishment of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity Committee in CAP.

  • Avery Chan is an education student getting his qualifications in teaching high school physics and math. Avery is non-binary, transmasculine, and Asian. He did undergraduate studies at Queen’s in physics where he has been involved in the LGBTQ+ community since he began his transition in 2013. Avery co-chaired The Education on Queer Issues Project, a committee that strives to promote gender and sexual diversity, and has worked with GSA's in schools throughout his career as both a student and a student teacher.

  • Dr. Michael Stenitz is Emeritus Professor of Physics in the Physics Department at StFX, where he has been since 1973. He does research in Solid State Physics, in neutron scattering and magnetic structures of rare-earth and transition metals, as well as dilatometry at cryogenic and very high temperatures.

    Michael has served in many committees that encourage equity, diversity and inclusion. He also volunteered for the Congress on Racial Equality in the 1960’s. Since 2006 he has been the editor of the Canadian Journal of Physics.

  • Dr. Mark Chen is the Gordon and Patricia Gray Chair Professor in Particle Astrophysics at Queen’s University. He also serves as the Chair and Advisor for undergraduate Physics students. He was involved in the SNO experiment which discovered that solar neutrinos undergo flavour oscillations. Now, he is the Director and Spokesperson for the successor SNO+ experiment.

    Dr. Chen, in his own words, “enthusiastically supports” the effort in encouraging women in physics.

  • Liz MacConnachie graduated from Queen's Engineering Physics (Materials Option) in 2016 and is currently pursuing her PhD in Engineering Physics at McMaster. She is part of the nuclear research group, and is investigating the neutronic properties of the McMaster Nuclear Reactor.

    Liz identifies as a gay woman, and she is very excited to be a part of this conference. She attended the CCUWiP in its second year, where it was held at Université Laval, and she is excited to see how much growth and visibility this conference has gained.

Physics Opportunities in Industry

The Physics Opportunities in Industry Panel is hosted by Crystal Angers and Dr. Aleksandra Sokolowska. They will each independently give a talk about how their unique career paths have led them to jobs in industry from a background in physics.

  • Crystal Plume Angers is a Medical Physicist with over 25 years of experience, working both in industry and in the hospital. Crystal completed a B.Sc. in Honours Applied Physics (Co-op) at the University of Waterloo in 1990 and then obtained a M.Sc. in Medical Biophysics from the University of Western Ontario in 1992. From 1994 to 2006, she worked as a Medical Physicist in industry and filled roles in product management, project leadership, process engineering and software development. In 2006 Crystal transitioned from industry to the public sector and became a Medical Physicist at the Ottawa Hospital Cancer Centre. Her current work is focused on Quality and Safety and she has made contributions in these areas locally, provincially, nationally and internationally.

    In the Physics Opportunities in Industry panel session, Crystal will introduce the field of Medical Physics and will share her varied work experiences. Using her own career path, Crystal will demonstrate how a scientific and technical skill set can be applied to many different domains.

  • Dr. Aleksandra Sokolowska recently finished her Fast-Track PhD studies at the Institute for Computational Science at the University of Zurich. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in astronomy from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Poland, and obtained her Master's degree in theoretical physics at the University of Zurich. In her research, she uses supercomputers to investigate the formation of structures in the universe.

    Dr. Sokolowska enjoys teaching programming; she is committed to building a network of professional women in STEM, and gladly dives into novelties in the field of Data Science. She is the co-founder of "women++", a Swiss non-profit association striving to increase diversity in tech through programming and career-related trainings.

Research Opportunities in Physics Panel

The Research Opportunities in Physics panel aims to provide students with a chance to hear from and network with researchers in different areas within physics, about their education/career journey, the decisions they have made along the way and the advice they have for undergraduate physics students.

This panel will be moderated by Dr. Nathalie Ouellette, the Education and Outreach Officer at CPARC. Dr. Ouellette completed a Ph.D degree in Physics and Astronomy at Queen’s University.

  • Dr. Tony Noble is a professor of physics at Queen’s University and the director of the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre. His research interests include the physics of neutrinos, and dark matter search experiments. He is involved in several dark matter experiments located at SNOLAB, including PICO (detectors using superheated liquids to detect spin-dependent WIMP interactions) and DEAP-3600 (a 3600kg liquid argon dark matter detector sensitive to spin-independent interaction).

    Dr. Noble’s teaching pedagogy is to always explore new ways to engage students in physics understanding.

  • Dr. Judith Irwin is an Astrophysicist and Professor at Queen's university where she has been on faculty for 26 years. Her research focuses on spiral galaxies that are edge-on to the line of sight providing a unique view of the dynamic interaction between the galaxy's gaseous disk and halo regions. She is currently leading an international team that is exploring this interaction from radio through to gamma-ray wavelengths. Dr. Irwin has used the world's major radio telescopes, from North America to India and Japan and has spent sabbatical leaves in France, Germany and India. She has published well over 100 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals and one astrophysics textbook. Dr. Irwin has two grown children and is acutely aware of the challenges facing women who try to juggle a career and a family.

  • Dr. Alison Hill completed her undergraduate studies in Physics at Queen’s University before receiving her Ph.D. in 2013 through Harvard’s Biophysics Program. She is now a Research Fellow and independent principal investigator at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. In her research, she develops mathematical and computational tools to help understand, predict, and treat infectious diseases.

  • Leila Mazaheri is a Ph.D. student in Jean Michel Nunzi’s research group at Queens ‘University. Her research focuses on diffraction gratings and all-optical surface patterning. She has been investigating holographic gratings using photoresponsive materials for their potential applications in photovoltaic cells as light-harvesting structures, and miniaturization of devices for photonics applications.

Graduate School Experience (Panel) Workshop

This workshop will allow attendees to gain insight into the graduate school experience. The session will be primarily Q&A format, so come prepared with questions - about applying to grad school, finding a supervisor, transitioning from undergraduate studies, or anything else you’re interested in learning more about!

The panel will feature five graduate students (Somayeh Mirzaee, Kate Fenwick, Christine Hall, Ingrid Lai, and Liz Fletcher) and will be moderated by Dr. Alison Hill. Dr. Hill completed her undergraduate studies in Physics at Queen’s University before receiving her Ph.D. in 2013 through Harvard’s Biophysics Program. She is now a Research Fellow and independent principal investigator at Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. In her research, she develops mathematical and computational tools to help understand, predict, and treat infectious diseases.

  • Somayeh Mirzaee is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the field of experimental Condensed Matter physics and optics. Her research focuses on the next generation of solar cells based on an array of optical nanoantennas. As a multidisciplinary explorer, she enjoys the design, nanofabrication, integration, and testing processes of a device. In addition to being a physicist, she is the mom of a four year old girl, who wishes to be a “doctor” like her mom.

  • Kate Fenwick is an Accelerated Master's student at Queen's University, studying physics. Her research interests lie in the field of laser optics, where she probes the ultrafast of the ultrasmall. She investigates the optical response of 2D materials on the nanoscale using ultrafast laser pulses, allowing her to determine the material's dynamics on the timescale that would match the making and breaking of chemical bonds. In her spare time, Kate is invested in STEM outreach, and also enjoys playing squash and rock climbing.

  • Christine Hall is a 2nd year Master’s student in Astrophysics at Queen’s University. She studies star formation in nearby galaxies in hopes to better understand galaxy evolution. She has a background in education experience and is passionate about sharing ideas with others as she learns more about the universe around us!

  • Ingrid Lai was born in Canada, lived in Hong Kong for 11 years, and then came to Queen’s University for her undergraduate studies in 2008. She obtained her Bachelor of Science (Honours) with a Specialization in Physics. She is now about to complete her Master’s degree in medical physics at Queen’s University.

  • Liz Fletcher completed her Bachelor of Science (Honours) in physics at Queen’s University this past spring. She has continued on as a Master’s student working in the particle astrophysics group, specifically on the SNO+ experiment. Her work mainly involves the calibration of the SNO+ detector, both from the hardware side and the data analysis and simulation side. Liz also loves to get involved and has been active in student leadership and outreach throughout university, both as an undergraduate and graduate student.

Dr. Susan Brodt - Negotiation Skills Workshop

Dr. Susan Brodt is an Associate Professor of Organizational Behaviour at the Queen’s University Smith School of Business and is cross-appointed as an Associate Professor of Psychology. Her teaching interests are in the area of organizational behaviour with an emphasis on executive leadership, negotiation, and trust. In her research, Dr. Brodt examines interpersonal and small group processes in organizations, including the dynamics of trust in manager-subordinate relationships and in negotiations. She has also served on the Editorial Review Boards for several scholarly journals including the Journal of Management, Negotiation, and Conflict Management Research.

As a strong supporter of women learning about negotiations, Dr. Brodt will lead a discussion on gender issues and how to approach negotiations at the Negotiation Skills workshop. Participants will have the opportunity to apply their new skills in a hands-on negotiation activity. Come prepared to practice!

Dr. Nathalie Ouellette - Presentation Skills Workshop

Dr. Nathalie Ouellette is an astrophysicist and science communicator. She is the Education and Outreach Officer at the Canadian Particle Astrophysics Research Centre (Queen’s University), where she hopes to make cutting-edge research in particle astrophysics accessible and exciting to everyone!

We all have a message we would like to get heard: your ground-breaking research, your passion for a scientific field, or even your impressive set of professional skills while job searching! The way you deliver this message deeply impacts how effectively it is received. At the Presentation Skills workshop, we will discuss common fears and barriers that people (especially women and non-binary individuals!) deal with when giving a presentation. We will also delve into different skills and mechanisms that can help you figure out your presentation style, how to truly make it your own and how to polish it!

Christine Fader - Interview Strategies Workshop

Christine Fader works as a career counsellor at Queen’s Career Services and is the editor of two editions of a best-selling resume book and the author of “Career Cupid – Your Guide to Landing and Loving Your Dream Job”. She has a long background in recruiting and hiring and has worked in diverse sectors such as engineering, business, law, social services, environmental services, government, the arts, and healthcare.

At the Interview Strategies session, you will learn to distinguish yourself in interviews from other Physics students/grads. Discover how to handle “Tell Me About Yourself”, typical behavioural questions (e.g., about teamwork experience), off-the-wall questions, and questions for you to ask. Come prepared to practice – walk away feeling more ready for an interview.

Vanessa Vakharia - Impostor Syndrome & Stereotypes in STEM Workshop

Vanessa Vakharia is a certified high school teacher with a Master’s degree in Mathematics Education focusing on Feminist Theory. Her thesis, titled Imagining a World Where Paris Hilton Loves Math, studied the intersections of math education, popular culture, and gender. In 2010, Vanessa founded The Math Guru, a boutique math & science tutoring studio in uptown Toronto which encourages students to develop confidence by understanding that they are just as capable as anyone else. Vanessa is an expert on engaging young women in STEM fields, and has spoken at many conferences about the negative representations of women in mathematics imposed upon us by popular media. She is also a founding member of Goodnight, Sunrise, a rock n roll band where she plays the keytar and belts lead vocals.

Impostor syndrome describes individuals who are unable to internalize their accomplishments, dismissing proof of their success as a result of luck, timing, or others’ perceptions of them. In the Impostor Syndrome workshop, Vanessa will discuss this concept and touch upon problematic stereotypes of women in STEM fields.

Dr. Stephane Courteau - Graduate School Applications Workshop

Stephane Courteau is an Astrophysicist and Full Professor in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics & Astronomy at Queen's University since 2004. He was an assistant professor at UBC from 2000-2004 and has done postdoctoral work at NRC Herzberg, NOAO, and Cornell. He obtained his PhD from UC Santa Cruz in 1992. He studies the structure, evolution and dynamics of evolved galaxies and maps out the distribution of dark matter in the nearby universe. He is also the Graduate Chair in his department since 2009 and takes great pride in the success of his students.

The workshop on Graduate School Applications will explore the different options and strategies that students must consider in order to apply for and ultimately pursue graduate studies in a Canadian or international university.