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Arlene Modeste Knowles
Outstanding Service Award
Arlene Modeste Knowles
University of Maryland-College Park
for a career of steadfast dedication to supporting student with an interest in physics and astronomy as they find their home, for her work on inclusion within the community, and a devotion to the Sigma Pi Sigma pillars of fellowship and service
Arlene Modeste Knowles is the TEAM-UP Diversity Project Manager at the American Institute of Physics. In her role at AIP, Ms. Knowles successfully guided the TEAM-UP project to the completion of its first phase, which culminated in the first ever AIP Expert Report, The Time is Now: Systemic Changes to Increase African Americans with Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics & Astronomy. This two-year effort began with a comprehensive research study by the TEAM-UP Task Force aimed at understanding the reasons for the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in physics and astronomy at the bachelor’s level. Ms. Knowles continues to oversee the very successful TEAM-UP project which is focused on galvanizing the scientific community toward doubling the number of African Americans earning bachelor’s degrees per year by 2030.
Prior to the release of the TEAM-UP report, Ms. Knowles co-led the SEA Change physics and astronomy working group with the AAPT Executive Officer, guiding its initial efforts to develop the SEA Change Physics and Astronomy Departmental Awards. These awards have the goal of recognizing and inspiring positive, sustainable change around diversity, equity, and inclusion within physics and astronomy departments.
Ms. Knowles serves as the past chair of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Committee on Diversity, a selected member of the AAAS STEMM Professional Society Self-Assessment Advisory Committee, a member of the nominating committee of the National Society of Black Physicists, and as a Board member of The SeRCH Foundation. In 2021, Ms. Knowles was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Formerly, Ms. Knowles spent more than two decades co-developing and managing diversity programs for the American Physical Society including the now retired, Scholarship Program for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors, and the National Mentoring Community, a mentoring program to increase the number of physics bachelor’s degrees earned by Black, Latine, and Native students. She advocated for the creation of the ad-hoc APS Committee on LGBT+ issues and worked with it to elevate the presence of LGBT+ physicists within the APS community and produce the first ever, LGBT Climate in Physics Report. Ms. Knowles also served on the initial Program Management Team of the multimillion-dollar grant-funded, APS Bridge Program, and has been instrumental establishing and advancing several APS diversity initiatives forward. Ms. Knowles holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development from Cornell University.