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Friday, June 16, 2017


Mary Ann Mort

There were many things to celebrate this past week - for good reason.


The sun pounded down as the beat of a marching band faded out on the left, and the sound of a Lady Gaga song intensified on the right. Confetti drifted in the heavy air and colorful beads were thrown in all directions as hands like hungry hyenas reached for them. Hoards of humans, the most intriguing, passionate, diverse species, danced, walked, or glided on floats from fantasy worlds with any and every color I could ever imagine right before my eyes. One such human passed by with a sign that read “I love my gay son!” and this acceptance and compassion brought tears of happiness to my eyes. All I could do was cheer alongside the other stationary humans beside me.

These are humans I’m proud of, and that’s why celebrating the (lion’s) PRIDE was critical. The other interns and I were fortunate to observe the parade from the steps of the newly remodeled OSA (Optical Society, a member society of AIP where one of the interns works).

On Sunday some of the interns and I walked some of the cutesy streets of Georgetown and went kayaking. I thought I had put on sunscreen, but after a couple hours on the Potomac River I learned to not miss one’s feet and to completely rub the sunscreen everywhere. While I was lightly sunburnt in patches on my legs, at least I didn’t have to feel like a bright red lobster like a couple of the other interns.

Each night during the week brought something new: dinner with a good friend, Aryn Fields, who is making her way in the world as a press secretary for a Congressman, food and drinks at an OSA panel on biomedical imaging with speakers from top of the field, and the quite entertaining dinner cruise with the SPS Executive Committee. The dinner cruise was the most fun I’ve had in awhile with spectacular food, stunning views of the monuments at the National Mall from the Potomac River, dancing, free drinks, and much intrigue.

At work, I was able to reunite with my mentor. I’ve been finishing up the Startup Stories, so we discussed some other projects I can start on, and I’m quite excited. One such project is connecting with an intern working in Florida on the DRK-12 grant which is focused on reaching out to high school students to get them interested in majoring in physics, with an end goal of closing the college physics gender gap. Once we “meet” we will figure out our game plan, but it is going to include reorganizing the careers profiles on the APS website and interviewing more successful women with just physics bachelors, since the website mostly has profiles of PhDs. The other project, that will actually affect me, is creating a flowchart graphic of “Should I go to Grad School?” I’ll have to ask many questions to many people, and possibly form some focus groups, but I think it could potentially give a lot of information to a lot of unsure undergraduates.


The PRIDE of the parade.
These troopers could only make you happy with bubbles.
The interns and I before we got burnt.
Aryn Fields and me after eating at Medium Rare.
Just one of many spectacular sights from the dinner cruise.

Mary Ann Mort