The Climate and Diversity Committee is committed to providing a welcoming climate within the School with special emphasis on inclusion, diversity and community building. Our mission is to establish structures to support communication, and prevent bullying, discrimination, and sexual harassment. Our members are drawn from the School’s faculty, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and staff. We work closely with other organized forums whose goals overlap with ours, such as SPS, GradPhi, and WIPA.
Professor Priscilla Cushman (committee chair) -- I have had lots of experience working in large collaborations in high energy physics. In the past, this included work at CERN, but then I got interested in direct detection of dark matter using cryogenic solid state techniques. The new SuperCDMS experiment is being built at SNOLAB, a deep underground laboratory in Canada and is composed of 20 institutions from the US, Canada, UK, and India. Large research groups can be both daunting and exciting. I can share my experience and give you some pointers. Whether you join a large or a small research group, you should be able to have a fulfilling research experience and trust that your contributions are valued.
Associate Professor Lindsay Glesener -- I am an astrophysicist who mainly studies the Sun. I collaborate on building new X-ray instruments as well as analyzing solar data from past and current spacecraft. Although I find this line of work very fulfilling, my academic path to get here wasn't a straight line. I had another career and tried other majors before I found physics as my calling. Not everyone knows what they want to do from the very beginning, and there are many paths by which you can accomplish your goals.
Professor Vuk Mandic -- I work in the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, focusing on searches for gravitational waves (LIGO, LISA) and dark matter (SuperCDMS). My work involves large collaborations, lots of data analysis, cool cryogenic particle detectors, and even some seismology. I also lead the NSF Research Training program named Data Science in Multi-Messenger Astrophysics - in addition to bringing together astrophysics and data science students and faculty, this program aims to broaden the participation in STEM fields and develop socio-emotional aspects of graduate student training.
Jennifer Kroschel -- I manage the student programs office for the School of Physics. I've been working in higher education student services for about 15 years and love helping students reach their goals. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my two boys (one human, one shih-poo) and co-zookeeper/husband.
Jessie Duncan (she/her) -- I am a graduate student working in solar physics, focusing on both data analysis and detector development for high energy x-ray instruments. I am in my fourth year of graduate school and my third year of working in this area; previously, I worked for the LIGO collaboration. I believe that the lack of diversity in physics causes us to miss out on a great deal of talent and perspective. I hope that this committee can work to make physics at Minnesota as welcoming as possible for everyone, especially those from underrepresented groups.
Lis Valor -- I am a graduate student working in the mysterious world of amorphous materials. My lab focuses in the study of optical and electronic properties of hydrogenated amorphous Si and Ge based thin films, and their optimization for solar cell applications and thin film transistors. I believe differences strengthen any community; they force us to interpret information and approach problems from different perspectives. Diversity and inclusion are imperative in moving forward and achieving meaningful results.
Aaron F. West (he/him) -- I am a fourth year grad student working on magnetospheric and auroral dynamics via theoretical modeling. Previously, I have contributed to renewable energy research at the University of Washington, and taught introductory science courses to middle school students. Outside of the office I adore music, theater, and tabletop roleplaying games, and all of the wonderful societies those intersect with. I am also the elected coordinator for 'Grad Phi', the physics graduate student life organization, where I seek to create a welcoming and positive community for physics grads. I believe everyone deserves a kind, supportive, and trustworthy space in which to live and work, and I hope to continue building that type of space here at the University of Minnesota with the Climate and Diversity team!
Matt Fritts -- I did my graduate work here at UMN with the SuperCDMS dark matter experiment, and now I'm back as a postdoc running a dilution refrigerator lab to test detectors for SuperCDMS SNOLAB. As a grad student I tried a few different groups while looking for an advisor, and got a taste of what it's like to work as a theorist where it's just you and your advisor, or with a small experimental group, or with a larger group with a lot more collaborators. Each working situation has its own rewards and challenges, and I hope that everyone here has as comfortable and productive an experience as I did.
CSE Alliance Liaison for International Students:
Assistant Professor Ke Wang