The Caltech 2013 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics

Share This:

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics

January 18, 2013 to January 20, 2013

Pasadena, CA

Meeting host:

American Physical Society


Azucena Yzquierdo

SPS Chapter:

SPS Reporter Azucena Yzquierdo (third from left) with fellow CUWiP attendees. Photo courtesy of Azucena Yzquierdo

I’m a student at Hartnell College, a community college located off the Central Coast of California. I’m part of a dedicated SPS Chapter, actively engaging in community outreach.

I was encouraged to attend the 2013 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) by my physics professor; she affirmed it would be a great experience. I was hesitant at first because my major isn’t physics; however, I took her advice. As the conference progressed, curiosity awoke in me to pursue an interdisciplinary major in biology and physics.  After listening to keynote speakers and conversing with a variety of undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students, I was amazed by the world of physics!

Keynote speakers from industry, research institutions, and universities set the scene for a great weekend. Dr. Nai Chang Yeh, a Caltech professor, opened with a talk on frontiers in quantum matter. She is a leading physicist in experimental condensed matter. Regina E. Dugan from Motorola Mobility, challenged us with an “epic” speech. “What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?” Said Regina, reminding us that we have the power to change the world and do “Epic Stuff”. And I can’t forget about Denise Caldwell, Acting Division Director for the Physics Division at the National Science Foundation, who highlighted scientists’ role in government policy and our responsibility to society. She also aggregated the variety of internship possibilities offered to undergrads, graduate and post-doctoral students through the National Science Foundation.

If you are a woman asking yourself, “How can I start gaining research experience?” or “How can I prepare to apply for graduate school?” then this conference has it all. There were discussion panels on undergraduate research, the graduate school experience, graduate fellowship opportunities and graduate school admissions. I gained a lot of information by attending the undergraduate research panel, who discussed how to approach getting work in a new lab. For example, if you are highly interested in working in a particular lab, you should; 1. Read a couple papers on the subject, 2. Prepare a couple of focused questions, 3. Visit the lab and discuss some of the questions with graduate students working in the lab, and 4. Contact the professor in charge of research. This should increase your chances of getting into the lab that you want.

The conference focuses on encouraging women to network with students from various institutions, learn about career paths in physics, increase awareness of current research, and give a talk or present a research poster.  This allows women pursuing a physics degree to gain the necessary insight and tools to excel in their field. I highly encourage women physicist to attend this conference!

I would like to thank Caltech’s representatives for their outstanding job and the friendliness and hospitality show by the students throughout lab tours.

Areas of Alignment: Career Resources: Scientific Categories:

Dr. Nai Chang Yeh (third from left) at dinner with attendees. Photo courtesy of Azucena Yzquierdo

Students in the quantum optics lab at Caltech. Photo by Azucena Yzquierdo