The University of Nebraska- Lincoln (UNL), under Nebraska MRSEC’s leadership, held its sixth Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physical Sciences, WoPhyS, on November 6-8, 2014.
WoPhyS is the centerpiece of Nebraska MRSEC’s efforts to make working in physics more enjoyable for young women, to create a climate that offers equal chances for women and men, ultimately encouraging US undergraduate students of both genders to pursue careers in science. The primary goal of this conference is thus to provide participants with a great opportunity to present their scientific work to their peers and to share their experience with other undergraduate students.
Under this year’s scientific theme “Nano Rising” the conference highlighted current progress in materials and nanoscience through a series of plenary and invited talks. Conference participants had the opportunity to visit the labs and materials research centers at UNL, to learn about the graduate programs, and to meet with faculty. Hallmarks of the meeting are a career session where role model scientists discuss their experiences and give career advice, a poster session, dinner with faculty from UNL, and social events. Students have the opportunity to present invited talks at this meeting upon nomination by their faculty, which gives them exposure to the community and helps them improve their academic record on their resume.
WoPhyS 2014 “Nano Rising” has been attended by 84 registered participants from universities across the U.S., plus UNL students. Several of the conference events have been publicly advertised, such as the lecture by NASA scientist Dr. Kamlesh Lulla and the plenary talk by Prof. Amber Boehnlein (see picture), so that audiences of over 150 students and faculty were reached.
WoPhyS has grown considerably in reputation over the past 6 years, as seen from the numbers of students and the stature of plenary speakers we are able to attract. It has a direct impact on minority student recruitment into UNL’s graduate program and advertises of UNL’s research capabilities to other students in the USA.