Ten Hendrix College students and two Hendrix College Department
of Physics faculty traveled to the University of Oklahoma January 17-19 to
attend the 2020 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP). The
CUWiP meetings are a series of regional conferences held simultaneously around
the U.S. and Canada for undergraduate women interested in physics. The
conference series encourages undergraduate women to pursue careers in physics
by giving them the experience of a professional conference, information about
graduate school and professions in physics, and access to women in physics of
all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas. Currently,
only 20 percent of U.S. students who earn a bachelor’s degree in physics are
female, and CUWiP is part of the effort to increase that number.
Hendrix students who attended the conference include Inaya
Molina ’20, Sarah Nicholson ’20, Hanna Detar ’20, Cassidy Favorite ’21, Megan
LaPlaunt ’21, Alexis Rivera ’21, Ashtyn Bell ’22, Grace Turner ’22, Jaycee Hall
’22, and Mayra Velazquez ’23.
Molina presented a research poster at the conference and brought home the “Best Presentation” award. Molina’s presentation, titled “Polymerization of Aniline by Photosystem I Proteins,” was rooted in research she carried out in an REU program in the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (VINSE) during the summer of 2019. “I am very passionate about renewable energy, and this research experience gave me the opportunity to work in research and development of renewable energy technologies,” Molina said.
The students were accompanied by two Department of Physics faculty, Dr. Ann
Wright and Dr. Julie Gunderson ’06.
“The CUWiP meetings are an important platform for
encouraging women to persist in physics at the undergraduate level and to seek
out careers in physics after graduation,” said Gunderson, an assistant
professor of physics. “Research shows that gatherings such as this conference
play a positive role in the retention of women in physics. We are grateful to
the Mellon Foundation Department Initiative Grant, funded by the College’s
Mellon Foundation Grant, which aims to promote diversity and inclusion at
Hendrix, for providing funding to make this trip possible.”
The Department of Physics at Hendrix has sent students and faculty to CUWiP meetings every year since 2013.