Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The University of Rochester Department of Physics and Astronomy is committed to fostering a positive and inclusive department culture. We believe that scientific research, education and outreach work best when they are being pursued by a diverse group of faculty, staff and students who are encouraged to realize their full potential. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee was formed to help in this endeavor. All members of the department are welcome to provide input directly to any of the committee members, or to use the anonymous feedback formThe department also has two ombudspersons, Nick Bigelow and Alice Quillen who can provide a safe space to discuss problems students have, offer guidance, and advocate (anonymously) on the behalf of students.

Diversity Committee Members

Gourab Ghoshal pictureMachiel Blok pictureAdam Frank picturePierre Gourdain picture
Gourab Ghoshal Machiel BlokAdam FrankPierre Gourdain
Gabriel Landi pictureAntonino Di Piazza pictureAbigail Armstrong pictureElisha Haber picture
Gabriel LandiAntonino Di PiazzaAbigail ArmstrongElisha Haber
Nick Reilly pictureNitya Ravi pictureKristin Ringhand picture
Nick ReillyNitya RaviKristin Ringhand

Committee Goals

The Department of Physics and Astronomy DEI Committee seeks to create a welcoming and inclusive environment so that all members of our community can thrive. To realize this goal, the DEI Committee coordinates with the chair of the department, as well as other committees, to establish best practices, promote cultural change within the department, and help increase the diversity of our faculty, staff and students. The committee also consults with undergraduate and graduate students regarding their concerns about and ideas on DEI issues.

The committee’s current action items are:

  • To explore funding opportunities for partnerships with other institutions that would increase the number of students from underrepresented groups in physics and astronomy Ph.D. programs
  • To fund first year students in the APS Bridge program so that they do not need to TA
  • To better highlight members of the department and their accomplishments on the webpage
  • To evaluate the department climate using either a survey or focus groups
  • To review all of the student DEI goals from the 2020 Day of Activism (see here), and decide which to incorporate into committee recommendations

We are a partner institution with the APS Bridge program.

Committee News

April, 2023

The department chair has agreed to make two faculty members ombudspersons to provide a safe space for students to discuss problems, offer advice, and advocate for students. 

March, 2023

A short climate survey was distributed to help assess problems in the department, and assist the committee in determining where it should focus its efforts. 

May, 2023

The incoming graduate cohort is the most diverse in recent history, and there is one Bridge admit, but work should be done by the department to improve the representation of BIPOC in future cohorts. The current Bridge policies can be found here. 

November, 2022

The Graduate Admissions Committee will use an admissions rubric again, and will aim to admit at least one APS Bridge student next year. A new set of policies for the Bridge program are being developed. 

May, 2022

The PASSAGE peer mentoring program will be expanded to include a larger percentage of incoming students, and will eventually include more formal training for mentors and be run by the administration.

December, 2021

The Graduate Admissions Committee will begin using an admissions rubric, and will admit at least one APS Bridge student next year.

November, 2021

A Diversity page has been added to the department website.

September, 2021

The General and Physics GRE tests have been made optional for the fall 2021 application process.

August 27, 2021

The pictures of the primarily white, exclusively male alumni in the department lobby will be replaced with research images from different groups.

July 1, 2021

The DEI committee is formed.

June 17, 2021

UR-STEM Recharge—Run by the David T. Kearns Center and the Department of Chemistry, UR-STEM Recharge emerged after #shutdownSTEM as a day for members from all levels at the University to come together and engage in self-examination, improve inclusive research practices, and focus on diversity in STEM.

March 2021

Department ombudsperson—The chair approved a student push to have one or more faculty members in the department undergo conflict resolution training so that they can act as confidential and impartial resources.

August, 2020

General teaching assistant—Beginning this semester, an older graduate student will act as a teaching assistant for all first year students going forward. This is in addition to the existing PASSAGE mentorship program, which connects each first year student that signs up with one or more graduate student mentors (see here).

June 2020

Advisor-advisee contracts—A folder with a template and other resources for advisor-advisee contracts was created (see here) so that students and their advisors can set clear and mutually beneficial expectations, boundaries and goals.

June 10, 2020

Day of Activism—The Department of Physics and Astronomy participated in the International Day to #shutdownSTEM and #shutdownAcademia in an effort to #strikeforBLM. Approximately 50 community members (staff, students and faculty) came together on June 9th to discuss how we can best serve the Black and Indigenous people of color in our community. On June 10th, three working groups collaborated on ways to implement the APS Bridge program in the department, best practices to foster a healthy physics identity in our community, and ways to improve our hiring and admissions processes (see here).

Resources for URMs in STEM

See resource link here.

Feedback

The Department of Physics and Astronomy encourages input on diversity, equity and inclusion from all members of our community. If you have any comments, questions, concerns, or suggestions please either contact one of the committee members directly, or submit the anonymous feedback form below to one or all of the committee members.

You can submit a bias-related incident report or seek support for yourself, or others using the CARE Network or contact the Ombuds Affiliate Network for conflict resolution guidance. You can also access this list of resources specifically for underrepresented minority students in STEM.