Women and Physics: Past, Present, and Future - A Celebration of International Women's Day

Conference Date: 
Friday, March 8, 2013 (All day)

“Women in Physics: Past, Present, and Future” is a conference that marks International Women’s Day 2013. The conference is aimed at a broad audience, including university students, faculty in physics and science, faculty in the humanities and social sciences interested in gender issues, and members of the general public.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “The Gender Agenda: Gaining Momentum.” This event will bring together historians, philosophers, and social scientists who study women in science, as well as physicists from inside and outside of Perimeter Institute.  Discussions will highlight the important contributions women have made in physics, and there will also be a focus on exploring the current situation of women physicists and how these scientists may be better supported in their field of study. This conference broadly considers the culture of physics and the important roles that both men and women have in assuring that this culture helps boys and girls, and men and women, who aspire to be scientists, to flourish.

“Women in Physics: Past, Present, and Future” will focus on successes and challenges faced by women in physics at various stages of their career. Two plenary speakers will address the culture of women in physics and the current environment for women within the field. Speakers and panelists will include female physicists in academia and industry, as well as researchers from the social sciences who focus on women in science and technology. The goals are to highlight the achievements of women in science, to help encourage current female students in physics, to catalyze conversations, and to foster collaborations to create a strong community of women in physics.

Registration for this conference is now closed.

If you are planning on driving to Perimeter Institute, you may park in the Bauer parking lot on Father David Bauer Drive across the street from the Waterloo Recreation Complex.  A parking permit is not needed.

Sponsorship for this conference has been provided by:


John Berlinsky

John Berlinsky is the Director of Academic Programs at Perimeter Institute and Professor of Physics & Astronomy (emeritus) at McMaster University.  Dr. Berlinsky's research has covered a broad range of subjects in low temperature and condensed matter physics.  With Walter Hardy at UBC, he helped design and build a cryogenic hydrogen maser which operated at 0.5K, at that time the world's most stable atomic clock. He has been a visiting professor at MIT, Standford University, and UBC and visiting scientist at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara.  He is an associate of the Quantum Materials Program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  He has been at Perimeter since 2009.

Sampa Bhadra

Sampa Bhadra is an experimental particle physicist in the Faculty of Science and Engineering at York University. She has worked on experiments in Chicago (Fermilab), Hamburg (ZEUS) and Japan (T2K). These experiments probe the questions related to the big bang: what are the fundamental constituents of matter and their interactions. This quest has taken her from probing the proton to understand quark gluon interactions, to delving into the behaviour of the elusive  neutrino. In 2012, Dr. Bhadra was identified as having the highest h-index (a measure of research citations) in physics in Canada

Melanie Campbell

Melanie C. W. Campbell is a Professor in the Department of Physics, University of Waterloo and is cross-appointed to the School of Optometry. An interest in the optical properties of the eye led her to a Ph.D. from the Australian National University. She currently pursues research in optics of the eye. Her basic research led to improved quality of clinical images of the fundus of the eye. The Waterloo confocal scanning laser ophthalmoscope that was developed by Dr. Campbell's group gave the first live images of the cones of the human eye. Dr. Campbell is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and received the 2004 Rank Prize in Optoelectronics for studies of the gradient of refractive index in the crystalline lens.

Carla Fehr

Carla Fehr holds the Wolfe Chair in Science and Technology Studies in the Philosophy Department at the University of Waterloo.  She received her PhD in Philosophy at Duke University where she specialized in philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, and feminist science studies.  Dr. Fehr held a $3.3 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE Grant designed to test strategies for improving the recruitment, retention and advancement of women and minority faculty in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Her research explores how increasing diversity within scientific communities can improve research quality. She lectures and consults on equity issues in the sciences, and in the academy more general, across Canada, the United States and Europe.  Dr. Fehr also holds two awards for excellence in undergraduate teaching.

Shohini Ghose

Shohini Ghose is an Associate Professor in Physics and Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University. She is an award-winning researcher in quantum information science and quantum chaos, and is an affiliate member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo. She is a passionate educator, and recently co-authored Canada’s first introductory astronomy textbook. A driving force behind creating Laurier’s Centre for Women in Science, she serves as its first Director.

Rachel Ivie

Rachel Ivie is Associate Director of the Statistical Research Center (SRC) at the American Institute of Physics. She received her PhD in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she specialized in research methods, statistics, gender, and the life course. Before coming to the SRC, Dr. Ivie was a professor of sociology and taught various courses to undergraduates, including the sociology of gender and research methods. Over the past ten years at SRC, she has specialized in studies of the workforce and diversity in physics. Dr. Ivie has been involved in several U.S. and international efforts to increase women’s presence in physics. Dr. Ivie provides social science expertise in the collection, analysis, and reporting of data—both quantitative and qualitative—about women and minorities in the fields of physics and astronomy.

Paul E. Jessop

Paul E. Jessop is the Dean of Science and a Professor in the Department of Physics & Computer Science at Wilfrid Laurier University. After obtaining his PhD from Harvard University in 1978, he joined the Electrical Engineering Division of the National Research Council of Canada (Ottawa), where he worked in the area of laser spectroscopy of solids.  From 1981 to 2010 he was at McMaster University, where he was Chair from 2001 to 2009. Dr. Jessop’s teaching and research interests are in the areas of integrated optics, semiconductor optoelectronic devices and fiber optics.  In recent years his research has focused primarily on silicon-based photonics, which is a field that is growing in importance.

Adriana Ocampo

Adriana Ocampo is the NASA HQ Program Executive for the Science Mission Directorate and is one of the foremost experts in remote sensing and planetary mapping. In 2002, she was Named by Discover magazine as one of the “50 most important women in science.” Her discovery and research of asteroid impact craters in Mexico has provided scientific evidence that asteroids caused climate change on earth and the extinction of dinosaurs. Ocampo moved to NASA headquarters in Washington in 1998 and has been responsible for the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Osiris-Rex mission that will launch in 2016 to collect asteroid samples. In addition, Ocampo is lead scientist for the European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Venus Climate Orbiter, and NASA’s Venus exploration group.

She devotes her energies to improving international space exploration and narrowing the space science gap between developed and developing nation. She has served on the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers National Board of Directors, as principal organizer of the “Space Conference for the Americas," and as the administrator of several U.N. conferences.

Natalia Toro

Natalia Toro is a faculty member in particle physics at Perimeter Institute and is interested in physics beyond the Standard Model. This includes dark matter, and other new particles, and understanding the hierarchy problem. Her research involves collaborating heavily with experimentalists. At age 14, Natalia became the youngest person to win the Intel Science Talent Search. She went on to obtain her PhD from Harvard in 2007, and completed a postdoc at Stanford before joining the faculty of Perimeter Institute in 2010.

8:30 am     Registration Opens

9:00 am     Opening Remarks by Neil Turok

9:10 am      A Conversation with Adriana Ocampo

10:10 am     Coffee Break

10:40 am    Talk by Carla Fehr - Creating Great Scientific Workplaces 

11:30 am     Panel Discussion - Making Physics Work

12:30 pm     Lunch Break

2:00 pm      Keynote Address by Rachel Ivie

3:00 pm      Panel Discussion - This is What a Scientist Looks Like

4:15 pm       Closing Remarks

Carla Fehr, University of Waterloo
Margaret Toye, Wilfrid Laurier University