Blog posts

Physics is for everyone

The Women in Physics Society stand against the recent comments from the government’s social mobility commissioner, Katherine Birbalsingh. Her unsubstantiated remarks have absolutely no scientific backing and are at odds with the wealth of scientific research that shows physics is for everyone, regardless of background, race, or gender.

In addition to highlighting the outstanding women physicists at Imperial, including our own Head of Department, the President of Imperial College has also provided evidence to the government to counter the social mobility commissioner’s damaging comments.

As a society, we will work tirelessly to showcase the incredible women working in the department, and to create an environment where all physicists can achieve to the best of their ability.

CUWiP 2022

If you follow us on Instagram, you might have seen the stories from three of our members who shared their experience of the Conference for Undergraduate Women and Non-Binary Physicists, celebrated this past April in Glasgow. Here’s what they had to say!

Bilgesu: My name is Bilgesu and I am a third year physics student at Imperial College London. This year I attended the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) in Glasgow. This is an annual event and it has allowed me to meet some amazing women who are at various stages of their physics career.

The conference included workshops, panels and talks on various topics including academia, careers and industry. I gained a lot of insight into what physics graduates to after their degree and what motivates different people in the field. The careers fair allowed me to learn about different research opportunities outside of academia.

I also had the opportunity to present my poster on the research I completed last summer on Dropout Selection with Lyman Break Galaxies. Getting to discuss my work with others and receiving feedback on my poster was a great experience. I also got to learn about research other attendees had been working on through summer research and their Master’s projects.


Our first outreach experience!

Amaya is a second-year student on the MSci Physics programme and the current social media officer for the Women in Physics society at Imperial. She comes from a state school in rural Spain and has an interest for outreach work and motivating other students from non-traditional backgrounds to pursue STEM. 

Su Ann is a fourth-year student on the MSci Physics with Theoretical Physics programme and the current secretary for the Women in Physics society. She is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and is passionate about the diversification of Physics. 

Outreach Talk at Avanti House Secondary School

A few weeks ago, a first-year Physics student reached out to the Women in Physics society to ask if we gave talks at schools, as her old secondary school’s Physics Society was very interested in hosting a talk about women in physics. We had never given a talk as a society before, but we replied and this past Wednesday 16th March we were fortunate enough to give our first one at Avanti House Secondary School in Stanmore, North London. 


#WomenonWednesdays: Su Ann Lim

For our final Women on Wednesdays interview of the term, we’ve talked to Su Ann Lim, a fourth-year student on the MSci Physics with Theoretical Physics course, who is also Secretary of WiP!

Introduce yourself! What do you like to do outside of physics?

My name is Su Ann and I am currently a 4th year undergraduate in the Theoretical Physics course. I’m also the Secretary for the Women in Physics committee this year and I feel so lucky to be part of a community of strong, intelligent women. I come from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and getting the chance to live and study in London for the past 4 years has been amazing! There’s such a wide variety of people here, especially Imperial, so it’s been really nice getting to meet people from so many different cultures. Some things I do when I’m not struggling over my problem sheets are bouldering, listening to k-pop, reading and watching anime!


#WomenonWednesdays: Jessie Durk

This week for the series we interviewed Dr. Jessie Durk, Research Associate in the Physics Education Group at the Department and Vice-President of our very own Women in Physics Society!

As a little introduction, what of Physics do you specialize in?

I specialise in physics education, which involves educational psychology, social/cognitive science, and data analysis, as well as knowledge of physics itself to be able to research how students learn different physics topics, and the most effective ways to teach and assess students. I’m currently working on the Strengthening Learning Communities project which aims to improve students’ sense of belonging in the department.


#WomenonWednesdays: Julia Stawarz

Today’s interview is with Dr. Julia Stawarz, a Royal Society University Research Fellow in the SPAT group, working in space plasma physics.

As a little introduction, what area of Physics do you specialize in?  

I work in the field of space plasma physics using measurements from spacecraft to study the dynamics of a number of different plasmas in near-Earth space – mainly the fast flow of hot plasma that expands from the Sun (known as the solar wind) and the region of space influenced by Earth’s magnetic field (known as the magnetosphere). Some of the spacecraft that I work with are NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale and Parker Solar Probe missions and ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission (the magnetometer for which was built here at Imperial!). Using this data, I focus on studying some of the fundamental processes that operate in a plasma, including plasma turbulence (the highly-nonlinear, seemingly chaotic dynamics of the plasma) and magnetic reconnection (the sudden release of stored magnetic energy in the plasma into the charged particles), both in terms of understanding how they influence the interaction between the Sun and the Earth and understanding the fundamental physics that may be applicable to other plasmas throughout the Universe.  


#WomenonWednesdays: Cynthia Vidal

For this week, we interviewed Dr. Cynthia Vidal, a postdoctoral researcher and Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow in the Experimental Solid State Physics group, working in Photonics.

As a little introduction, what area of Physics do you specialize in?

I am an experimentalist in the field of photonics. More precisely, I work on the control of single photon emitters using nanostructures. But I actually started by studying theoretical physics, particle physics and cosmology. After finishing my master in this field, I even started a PhD but, for many different reasons, had to switch subject. So I unexpectedly ended up working on nano-optics!


#WomenonWednesdays: Abbey Waldron

This week for our Women on Wednesdays series, we spoke to Dr. Abbey Waldron, a postdoctoral researcher in the High Energy Physics group working on neutrino oscillation physics.

As a little introduction, what area of Physics do you specialize in?

I’m a neutrino physicist. I work on the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, which is a long baseline neutrino oscillation experiment. It starts at Fermilab, which is just outside Chicago in the US, and we make a beam of neutrinos by colliding protons on a target and then focusing the charged decay products and then when they decay, the secondary decays form a beam of neutrinos. This beam then travels 1300 km across the US to South Dakota, where we have our far detectors. We also have near detectors close to the beam production and that allows us to observe the neutrinos in both detectors and see how they’ve changed through oscillations as they travel.

The ultimate goal of that work is to see whether neutrinos and antineutrinos behave the same in their oscillation, because the matter-antimatter asymmetry from neutrino oscillations could lead to the matter-antimatter asymmetry that we see in the universe. We see a matter-dominated universe and this could help explain that.


#WomenonWednesdays: Claudia de Rham

For this week’s interview series, we interviewed Professor of Theoretical Physics Claudia de Rham.

As a little introduction, what of Physics do you specialize in?

I am a theoretical physicist working at the interface between gravity, particle physics and cosmology. Like any scientist, I am really interested in understanding how nature works, but what fascinates me is the Universe as a whole. The Universe started at extremely high energy, so high that the laws of physics as we know them probably don’t apply there. Then throughout its cosmological history the Universe cooled down and expanded to reach the incredibly low energy density we are experiencing today. So understanding the Universe is really attempting to understand the laws of physics from the highest to the lowest possible scales.


#WomenonWednesdays: Bilgesu Aydın

We interviewed 3rd year MSci Physics student Bilgesu Aydın for our series! Bilgesu was President of the Imperial College Physics Society during the academic year 2020-21. She was the youngest president ever and the first woman to hold the title (as far as anyone in the Department today knows).

How did you come to study Physics?

I come from a fairly academic family, both my parents are academics and I spent most of my summers as a child around the university, among PhD vivas, chilling around with books. Academia was something in my life from a very young age. When I was younger I was definitely very interested in science – I used to read a lot of popular science books and magazines. I then had a period where I had changing phases of interests – these ranged from various forms of art and design to law and economics. It really wasn’t until my last two years of school that I decided for sure that I wanted to study physics and an internship I did at an observatory over the summer helped me make this decision. The pleasure I got from being able to answer questions about everything around me made want to learn as much physics as I can.