This award provides funding for the Seventh Annual Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics and the collection and analysis of data on the impact of these meetings on undergraduate women in physics. Six regional conferences will take place January 13-15, 2012, simultaneously at Stanford University, the University of Washington, Texas A&M University, Yale University, the University of Tennessee, and Case Western Reserve University. Data analysis will be centered at Indiana University.

The conferences have two overarching goals: 1) To give undergraduate women the resources, motivation, and confidence to apply to graduate school and to successfully complete a Ph.D. in physics or a related discipline; and 2) To increase awareness by undergraduate women in physics of the wide range of career opportunities available to them. Regional conferences are held simultaneously to maximize student attendance by minimizing travel, to increase the excitement of the participants in a joint national venture, and to allow the interactive simulcast of a keynote address. The conference goals are achieved by providing a series of inspiring talks by female physicists, panel discussions on graduate school and physics careers, student presentation sessions, and ample opportunity for networking and informal mentoring. The success of these goals will be measured by surveys given to students before and after the conferences, as well as by longitudinal studies following the student's post-graduation paths and comparing them with female student cohorts who did not attend the conferences.

Project Report

This award provided partial participant support for over 650 undergraduates to attend six Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), held simultaneously across the country on January 13-15, 2012. The primary purpose of the conferences is to retain female students in physics. Although the CUWiP are primarily aimed at declared physics majors, recruitment of physics majors is fostered by energizing and equipping CUWiP participants to be ambassadors for the major when they return to their home institution, and by recruiting participants who may otherwise not be aware of the opportunities that a physics major provides. A subaward at Indiana University supported assessment of the impact of the conferences. The conference hosted at Stanford and SLAC was in very high demand, with ~210 applicants for 150 spots. The conference featured a number of interactive elements: workshops on applying for summer research, publishing research results as an undergraduate, applying for graduate school, and applying for careers in industry; panels on communicating science and working in industry; an Expo on careers, grad schools, and national societies; tours of SLAC; presentations on a broad range of topics in science and technology, including nano science, health physics, particle physics, and cosmology. Each speaker integrated into her talk a brief description of her personal career path. The keynote talk by SLAC Director Persis Drell described opportunities and choices physicists may face in their professional and personal lives, and provided guidance on handling the dilemmas that may arise. The Stanford CUWiP recruited ~20 local community-college students in STEM fields, many of whom were first-generation college-going students, and held a workshop for students interested in transferring from a community college to a four-year college. The websites for all six conferences are linked to this APS-hosted site: The materials generated by the conferences, including the results of the assessment supported by this award, are archived on an APS-hosted wiki, and are being used to identify and promote best practices and facilitate efficient organization of future conferences.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Physics (PHY)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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Program Officer
Kathleen McCloud
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Stanford University
United States
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