The 2022 conference was conducted at the University of Glasgow.
The conference encourages girls, women, and non-binary people in undergraduate study to continue to pursue physics. It focuses on the pathways to becoming a scientist and presents various other educational and professional future opportunities. It consists of a 3-day programme with various talks, presentations, workshops led by distinguished women physicists in academia, industry and third sector and tours of laboratories with local sites of interest.
The process consist of filling out a short application form. If you pass the round, the in-charge team send a separate email to your student mail, and you must fill another form and pay a small registration fee on an Eventbrite page. After this your place in the conference is confirmed. You will be provided with free accommodation and meals. It also takes your dietary provisions into consideration. There is also an opportunity to share your current work to the conference booklet, where you can introduce yourself to other participants. I mentioned the micrometeorites group project which me and my teammates were working on at the time.
Thisyear’s specific programme consisted of 3 days from the 7th- 10th April. The first day involved orientation and registration, followed by dinner and social at the Glasgow university union. It ended with attendees enjoying the beautiful city at night during walk back to the accommodation.
The second day started with an Industry panel discussion, allowing participants to explore the other pathways possible in the real-world even without doing active academia, followed by a Job fair. This allowed everyone to talk to various companies, some of which focused on CubeSats, satellites and lasers. The next talk was by Professor Sheila Rowan which was one of my personal favourites. She discussed gravitational waves and its physical effect alongside the use of LIGO and other detectors to complete the advance detector network, and their benefits to other fields of astronomy naming black holes. This was followed with another panel discussion focusing on specific next steps after the undergraduate experience. We went to the Science centre and had a lot of fun with the Planetarium show and various unique exhibits to see and play with.
Day 3 started with an interesting talk by Professor Gail McConnell who discussed technologies in optics, followed by an interactive workshop focused on themes such as maintaining your assertiveness, dealing with imposter syndrome and confidence. It was quite helpful to a lot of participants to bring their self-worth in level. At the mentoring session later that day, the academia panel which I personally enjoyed quite a lot, focused on specific process involved with pursuing masters and PhDs. It also focused on a very important point which I also believe quite strongly and that is to only pursue topics or ideas you are genuinely interested in. There was also more flexibility compared to industry careers and there is more chances as long you are willing to pursue more knowledge. Many academics have also manged to integrate innovative work and start-ups alongside their academic career. This was a helpful panel as personally I always believed there are only certain paths you can follow in academia and that is not true. This was followed with an interactive poster session.
There was an inspirational and informational talk by Dr Jess who focussed on chiral functional materials and delved into the lack of representation and support for women in physics. She presented the work she has done to bring more focus on the various research, innovations, discoveries, and inventions by women physicists across the world. We learned tips to individually make impact by supporting other women physicists we know and putting them out to the world.
It was followed by a talk by Dr Sabine Wollman who discussed quantum information science, entanglement, and the contribution to the modern-day technologies of communication, sensing, and computing. It was also one of my personal favourites as she connected the quantum view of energy and momentum conservation and its relation to qubits and entanglement.
We had the honour to meet and hear from the Jocelyn Bell Burnell who discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. It moved everyone a lot and I believe everyone had a renowned motivation to stay in physics after listening to her struggles in her academic life being a woman during the 60s.
The final day began with a talk by Dr Yolanda Ohene who was there as a chair from the Blackett Lab family. After which, there was a talk by Dr Clara Nellist who talked about her work at the LHC and how she is involved making a more LGBTQ friendly workspace for particle physicists. We heard from an Intersectionality panel led by Dr Yolanda Ohene joined by various other unique talented individuals out of whom one of my new friends Jennifer Crouch talked about the impact of their individual backgrounds and the struggles they have faced to pursue their passions.
‘Thank you, University of Glasgow, for hosting the wonderful CUWiP2022. It was an honour to be part of this amazing safe space with brilliant scientists, and talents alongside other female & non-binary physicists. It was my first time at an in-person physics conference, and it made me glad that I’m pursuing astrophysics. The various talks on topics such as intersectionality, quantum materials, particle physics, imposter syndrome, and diversity in physics made me realize there is so much I can pursue and grow as a woman in physics. The powerful speech by Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell made at the Ceilidh made me appreciate how far as a society we have come to respect and account for the work female scientists have done for the development of the world. The whole conference ended up with me obtaining a reignition of passion towards my subject alongside a deep awareness of various aspects of pursuing the subject. The conference happening during the spring break before the exams was helpful for my mental health. I would like to thank Caroline Muellenbroich & Daniela Bortoletto once again for a fantastic conference.’
Here are a few images from the conference