Ryerson Medical Physics Students Attend CCUWiP 2017

By Charlotte Ferworn

Ryerson’s Medical Physics students attending CCUWiP 2017.
From the left, Amun Sihra, Preet Kahlon, Megan Dagys,
and Charlotte Ferworn.

This year the Canadian Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CCUWIP) was held at McMaster University. According to the American Physical Society (APS), only about 20% of Bachelor’s degrees in physics are held by women[1]. As such, events like CCUWiP that bring women pursuing physics together are hugely important. Several of Ryerson’s Medical Physics students (myself included) had the pleasure of attending CCUWiP this year.

CCUWiP is an annual conference held at multiple universities throughout Canada and the USA. Each year the conference schedules speakers to address the challenges faced by women in physics and celebrate their triumphs. This year the speakers included our very own Dean of the Faculty of Science, Dr. Imogen Coe, who spoke about the state of women in STEM. Additionally, Prof. Renée Hložek, from the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics, advised us to Infiltrate, Survive and Change the field of physics to make way for more women to follow in our footsteps. Finally, and perhaps most memorably, the keynote speaker, Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, spoke to all the simultaneously held CUWiP conferences across North American from an auditorium at Harvard University. She discussed the recent confirmation of gravitational waves made by a team of physicists at the Laser Interferometric Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) of which she is a key member.

In addition to these lectures, students had the opportunity to attend workshops on several important topics, including presentation skills and publishing papers, which were led by a Second City graduate, and the editor of the Canadian Journal of Physics, Dr. Michael Steinitz, respectively.

CCUWiP also hosted a brief poster session where undergraduates could present their research in front of their peers. Students presenting received feedback on their research and presentation skills, while those who listened were exposed to research topics which they may have never previously considered.

Students in attendance were presented with opportunities to learn about their potential futures in physics. There were workshops on both American and Canadian Graduate Programs as well as a Graduate Education Fair where Graduate Student Coordinators from several major Canadian universities (including Ryerson) were in attendance.

Overall, CCUWiP 2017 was a highly informative conference that succeeded in bringing together women in physics from across Canada, allowing them to make connections and plan their futures in the field of physics.

[1] APS/Source: IPEDS Completion Survey & NSF-NIH Survey of Graduate Students & Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering