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WISE Inspirations Network at Stanford (WINS) Speaker Series: Meg Urry

Dr. Meg Urry
Monday, November 14, 2016 -
4:30pm to 6:30pm
Huang 300, Mackenzie Room

Registration Deadline: Thurs., November 10, 2016

Registration is closed.

The WISE Inspirations Network at Stanford (WINS) aims to create an engaged Stanford network linking women graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and alumnae in STEM fields, and their allies and advocates, through regular meetings and communications. WINS seeks to provide all with opportunities to learn from a diverse array of stand-out women in science and engineering about the realities of their lives and work, successes and lessons learned, and to connect individuals with a network of potential mentors, protégés, and other colleagues.

The Autumn 2016 WINS will feature Dr. Meg Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Black Holes, Astrophysics and How to Get to Equity in STEM

From my first summer research experience 40 years ago to observing with the latest space telescopes, I have studied how super-massive black holes power “active galactic nuclei” which can radiate far more light than all the stars in the host galaxy. Most recently, my group charted the growth of supermassive black holes over cosmic time and quantified their role in galaxy evolution. Astrophysics has made incredible advances over the past 40 years. Far less impressive is the slow pace at which physics and other STEM fields enlist talented students who fall outside the dominant white+male group. Although women are 50% of the population and 60% of all college graduates in the US, their participation in physics falls short of 20%; people of color, veterans, first-in-family college students, the disabled, the LGBTIQA* community and other minority groups are also under-represented, and those with intersecting identities even more so. Because the demographics of science varies widely across fields, nations and time, culture—rather than ability or interest—is likely the dominant variable. The preferential exclusion of minority groups means that we are leaving talent on the table, i.e., the STEM enterprise is not as strong as it could be. And we are short-changing our students, who are far more diverse than faculty. Extensive research has made clear why the academy falls short of parity, including implicit bias, insufficient mentoring, shifting criteria for evaluation, lack of role models and harassment. We can’t afford to lose another generation of STEM talent, vanishing like matter into a black hole --- we need their energy and new perspectives to lead to innovation and transformative science.

Meg Urry's Bio

Meg Urry is the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics; she served as Chair of the Physics Department at Yale from 2007 to 2013. She is in her fourth and final year as President of the American Astronomical Society. Professor Urry received her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University in 1984 and her B.S. in Physics and Mathematics summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1977. Her scientific research focuses on active galaxies, which host accreting supermassive black holes in their centers. She has published over 260 refereed research articles on supermassive black holes and galaxies and was identified as a “Highly Cited Author” by Thomson Reuters. Prof. Urry is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academies of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society and Association for Women in Science; received an honorary doctorate from Tufts University; and was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s Annie Jump Cannon and George van Biesbroeck prizes. Prior to moving to Yale in 2001, Prof. Urry was a senior astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA. Professor Urry is also known for her efforts to increase the number of women in the physical sciences, for which she won the 2010 Women in Space Science Award from the Adler Planetarium, and she writes regularly on science for CNN.com.

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