The goal of CU2MiP is to provide undergraduate underrepresented minority students from the Mid-Atlantic with a professional conference to learn information about graduate school and professions in physics and connect with other professionals in physics with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas.
Registration will be open on January 16th, 2024.
Articles for Previous CU2MiPs:
CU²MiP 2021: Online and Expanded
In January 2021, the University of Maryland’s Department of Physics and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted the third Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics (CU²MiP). The conference launched in 2016 to address the historically low representation of minorities in the physics community.
This year, UMD President Darryll J. Pines gave a welcoming and encouraging address. UMD College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences Dean Amitabh Varshney, NIST director Walter Copan. Physics Chair Steve Rolston, Rowan University’s Tabbatha Dobbins and Howard University Thomas A. Searles were among many speakers, workshop leaders and panelists.
Though COVID-19 required an online gathering this year, organizers adapted and expanded the program in significant ways, offering a research panel on quantum science, helpful videos and an entire slate for high school students.
“The quantum panel and quantum speakers for both undergrad and high school were very well received,” said Donna Hammer, director of education for the Department of Physics. Among the speakers at the quantum panel was alumna Ana Maria Rey (Ph.D. ’04), recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant.
Other CU2MiP highlights included a fireside chat where College Park Professor Sylvester James Gates Jr. was interviewed by his daughter, Delilah Gates (B.S. ’15), who is now a physics Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University. The elder Gates mentioned events in his life that helped him succeed as a physicist and contribute to society. He also addressed “imposter syndrome,” which is a sense of not belonging or being good enough, and discussed ways that students might overcome it.
Jorge Ramirez Ortiz and Daniel Serrano of UMD gave a presentation on Rostros Físicos, a new multimedia celebration of the successes of Latinx/Latin American physicists across all stages of the scientific career path.
Fostering collegiality has always been a primary CU²MiP goal, and this year’s virtual gathering continued this emphasis.
“Adding mentoring chats throughout the conference fostered meaningful networking beyond the breakout rooms associated with the panels and workshops,” Hammer said. “Drop-in mentoring provided shared stories, guidance and collaboration in real time.”
Undergraduates responded positively.
“It was great to meet people and I found all of the speakers inspiring and engaging!” wrote one participant. Another expressed gratitude for the conference, noting, “I spoke with a lot of supportive people on the prospects of research.”
The high school conference featured a plenary talk by Professor Willie Rockward, the physics department chair at Morgan State University, on “Your Pathway in Physics using Passion, Purpose, and Problem-solving.” High school student Anisha Musti discussed founding Q-munity, a group of high school students working together in quantum computing. College Park Professor and Nobel Laureate Bill Phillips, along with NIST’s Angie Hight Walker, held a Quantum Science Showcase.
Erin Lukomska-Schlauch, chair of the science department at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George’s County, helped to organize the conference, and found the experience memorable.
"As an educator, I will be taking a lot of what I learned back to my students, especially from the diversity workshops,” she said. "All the sessions that I attended were all really engaging, well planned and well executed."
Cindy Hollies, a teacher who has led many UMD physics summer programs, wrote, “I logged out of the conference on Sunday evening feeling proud and impressed with the young people leading the future of physics and amazed at the inspiring opportunities this conference presented for high school students. May there be many more such conferences.”
Hammer observed that high school students learned about the many career opportunities opened by degrees in physics. As one student wrote, “…although I have taken a physics class, I didn't know much about its applications. I am very excited to take more related classes in college.”
Rolston, the department chair, was pleased with the undergraduate program and the extended efforts for high school students.
“We are grateful to everyone who contributed to CU²MiP,” he said. “Studying physics is a great path, not only to research and teaching careers, but to an extremely wide range of interesting professions. And the discipline itself helps develop a discerning way of seeing the world.”
"CU²MiP is a catalyst for change,” summarized Hammer. “The outcomes of each conference inspire me to keep moving forward and to know, not just believe, that real, positive change is possible and happening right now. As one student said to me, ‘This conference showed me that with each day I study physics, I'm part of the solution.’”
During the first weekend of October 2016, the University of Maryland Department of Physics and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) held the inaugural Conference for Undergraduate Underrepresented Minorities in Physics (CU2MiP), bringing students from several universities to this campus for networking, career advice and discussion of research opportunities. In 2014, UMD Department's Director of Education, Donna Hammer and NIST's Katharine Blodgett Gebbie and Angela Hight-Walker organized a very successful Mid-Atlantic Conference of Undergraduate Women in Physics, which inspired their vision to establish CU2MiP.
Attracting students to science, technology and mathematics (STEM) has emerged as one of the nation's leading educational priorities. Historically, physics has had one of the lowest levels of women and racial and ethnic minorities among all STEM fields. Research by the American Institute of Physics has shown that women and minorities are consistently underrepresented among those receiving physics bachelor's degrees, compared to their portions of college enrollments. And only about four percent of PhDs awarded in this country go to underrepresented minority students, i.e., African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans.
On Friday, Oct. 7, the CU2MiP opened at NIST with a welcoming address by Nobel Laureate and UMD Distinguished University Professor Bill Phillips. Phillips gave an inspiring and engaging talk on having fun while pursuing a career in physics, but also spoke with sadness of Gebbie, the retired Director of NIST's Physical Measurement Lab who had greatly looked forward to meeting the students of CU2MiP. Dr. Gebbie died August 17 at the age of 84.
After a full afternoon of NIST lab tours, the conference attendees enjoyed dinner and talks by UMD Distinguished University Professor Jordan Goodman, NIST Director Dr. Willie E. May and UMBC Professor of Physics Anthony Johnson. Saturday's activities included a welcome by alumna Delilah Gates, '15, now a graduate student at Harvard,and a talk by mathematician and UMBC President Freeman A. Hrabowski III, which received a standing ovation. Interactions with representatives from the AIP, APS and OSA, NASA, NSBP, NSHP, and workshops on graduate school, research opportunities and career paths ensued. A poster session preceded dinner, and Regents Professor Jim Gates gave the evening address. The UMD chapter of the Society of Physics Students then sponsored a physics trivia night.
Sunday's agenda included a talk by Dr. Tabbetha Dobbins of Rowan University, a community building session and an address by department Chair Steve Rolston. Several UMD physicists participated in "Exploring Careers in Physics," which highlighted the many ways that the analytical skills, knowledge and technical expertise that accompany physics degrees can be put to use in academia, government and industry. UMD undergraduates Paula Rodriquez and Myles Poole offered closing remarks.
Participant enthusiasm seemed very high, according to Hammer. "We were extremely happy with the energy the students brought, and with the rapport that developed over the weekend," she said. "Our speakers and panelists were all so encouraging and helpful to this next generation of scientists." Hammer stated, "The extremely positive responses we received fromCU2MiP have already have us excitedly working on planning for next year."
A survey of the CU2MiP students returned highly-favorable reviews and comments:
What struck me most were the speakers. They were truly inspiring and motivating.
It was more insightful than I had expected. The guest speakers all shared information that was unknown to me and offered motivation to continue in my physics studies.
I am leaving with new friends, great connections and an overall newfound love and appreciation for physics and the sciences.
Please accept my condolences on the passing of Dr. Gebbie. She is still having a positive influence on science through persons like you who carry on her philosophies through these kids of activities.
I enjoyed meeting so many people who have experienced being a minority STEM student and were willing to share their unique insight into navigating the academic world and beyond.
Honestly I have never had more fun doing anything in my entire life.
Read about the 2021 conference here: https://umdphysics.umd.edu/about-us/news/department-news/1681-2021-cu2mip.html
More information on CU2MiP can be found here: http://www.physics.umd.edu/cumip/index.html
Links to each conference: