List of Past BANG Seminars : 01-Sep-2015 to 31-Dec-2015


Date:   Thu 10-Sep-2015
Speaker:   Various
Title:   Academic Career Panel

Date:   Thu 17-Sep-2015
Speaker:   Matthew Wright (UMCP -- CMNS)
Title:  Science in Society: Bridging the Gap with Good Storytelling

Gone are the times when scientists can publish their work in a journal and call it a day. To be competitive in today's academic culture, scientists need to reach out and talk about their work directly to the media, policy makers, funders and other non-scientists. But doing so isn't always easy -- effective communication requires skills that aren't taught in grad school and can take a lot of time away from research and other responsibilities. But it's never too late to get started! If you're ready to dive in, you'll need to learn how to tell a good story.

In this brief seminar, we will go over a few tips for improving your communication skills through good storytelling. We'll discuss the role of professional science communicators and how they can assist your efforts, with a special focus on how the CMNS communications team can help right now.


Date:   Thu 24-Sep-2015
Speaker:   Maggie McAdam and Shreya Anand
Title:  Women and Minorities in Science: What's holding science back and what we can do about it

In this interactive discussion seminar, representatives from the Astronomy Gentleladies Network explore common social issues facing women and minorities in science including stereotype threat, imposter syndrome and unconscious bias. Through reflection on our own personal experiences and discussion, we will examine ways to identify and combat these issues in our classrooms, department and astronomy as a whole.


Date:   Thu 01-Oct-2015
Speaker:   Ashlee Wilkins (UMD)
Title:  Lessons and Strategies in Student Support and Mentoring with GRAD-MAP

GRAD-MAP is a joint diversity initiative of the UMD physics and astronomy departments. We have spend the last two years developing positive, sustainable relationships between the students, researchers, and faculty at UMD and our counterparts at area community colleges, HBCUs, and minority-serving institutions. We have mentored many undergraduates on their path through astronomy and physics, and have learned lessons -- and made mistakes -- along the way, and wish to share our insights and learn from others' experiences, too. I will present an overview of the GRAD-MAP program and where it is today and then lead an interactive discussion of best practices for mentoring and supporting students in specific situations, especially those which may be outside of the realm of personal experience of the mentor. I will also discuss the campus and national resources available to women, men and women of color, LGBT+, and/or disabled students that mentors/advisors/professors can share to more fully support their students.


Date:   Thu 08-Oct-2015
Speaker:   Johanna Teske (Carnegie DTM)
Title:  Identifying and Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome

Imagine that every time you went to school or work, these thoughts spiraled around: "Should I be here?" "I didn't deserve this position, and soon everyone will find out." "They'll know I'm incompetent, that I'm only here by luck." "I had to work much harder than my smarter peers; they'll know I've fooled them." "I'll be exposed as an impostor."

For many people in astronomy, and the sciences overall, this is a daily reality. Coined as the "Impostor Syndrome" (IS) by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, such debilitating thoughts erode confidence and can cause individuals to attempt less because they doubt their capacity to achieve the same rigor or status as their peers/mentors. This can lead to depression, stagnation, and even leaving the field. Studies have shown that IS is more frequently experienced by women (but is not absent in men) and underrepresented minorities, and may be an underlying driver of underrepresentation in science, one of the primary climate issues identified in the Decadal Survey. IS can be addressed and combated by improving self-awareness and self-management, exploring how IS protects one's self-worth versus limits one's achievement, and learning/accepting one's strengths and successes.

This will be an interactive, workshop-style session, concentrating on identifying, exploring, and overcoming IS thoughts and behaviors. Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of IS and effective IS-combating exercises, plus additional resources to share with their mentors/supervisors/students/mentees/peers.


Date:   Thu 15-Oct-2015
Speaker:   Open Discussion
Title:  Discussion of sexual harassment in astronomy

We will have an open discussion of the recent events surrounding the Geoff Marcy case at Berkeley, and the broader issues of sexual harassment in astronomy that it has raised.


Date:   Thu 22-Oct-2015
Speaker:   Derek Richardson (UMCP)
Title:  "Creating Opportunities for Astronomy Majors to Collaborate in Introductory Courses"

The University of Maryland courses ASTR120 and ASTR121 form a two-semester introduction to astrophysics required for the Astronomy major. Here we report on successes and challenges of transforming the courses to be more student-centered, drawing on existing research-based strategies and creating a new lab curriculum that teaches skills relevant for professional astronomers. We aim to provide equitable learning opportunities for all potential Astronomy majors, by creating space for them to collaborate and reason about the content during class. We are adopting and building on materials that have been developed for Astronomy non-majors (including Peer Instruction questions and Lecture-Tutorials). We are also using two-stage exams, where the second stage allows students to collaborate outside of class, in order to reduce stereotype threat and better align our assessments with other changes to the course. This effort is supported in part by a grant from the University of Maryland TLTC Elevate Fellows program.


Date:   Thu 27-Oct-2015
Speaker:   Rudy Montez (Fisk-Vanderbilt)
Title:  Finally: A Case-Study of a Long Non-Traditional Path to an Astrophysics PhD

The representation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degree recipients fails to track the college-aged demographics in the United States. In a country with a dramatically shifting demographic, this failure to enroll and retain a broad demographic in STEM-fields can weaken the future STEM-workforce. There is no easy solution to this national conundrum, but the efforts and studies currently underway offer insight and perspective on potential solutions to the problem. In my presentation, I review some of the existing programs, common obstacles that limit participation of underrepresented minority students in the STEM-fields, anecdotes as an underrepresented minority having successfully navigated a long pathway to the PhD, and lessons from my experience as a mentor in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters' to PhD Bridge Program.


Date:   Thu 05-Nov-2015
Speaker:   n/a
Title:  Inclusive Astronomy Video & Discussion about Ableism

Abstract: We will watch excerpts from the recorded talk by Lydia Brown entitled `Achieving Disability Justice: Beyond Ableism & the Imagined Normal', which she presented at the Inclusive Astronomy meeting earlier this year. Afterward, we'll have a group discussion about the issues raised in the talk.


Date:   Thu 12-Nov-2015
Speaker:   n/a
Title:  Inclusive Astronomy Video & Discussion

Following a similar format as last week's seminar, we will watch video exerpts from another Inclusive Astronomy talk. Afterward, Ashlee Wilkins will lead a discussion.


Date:   Thu 19-Nov-2015
Speaker:   Van Dixon (STScI)
Title:  Making Your Department More Welcoming to LGBT+ Students and Colleagues

Want a department that is more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) students, staff, and faculty? The AAS Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA), together with LGBT+physicists, has produced Supporting LGBT+ Physicists & Astronomers: Best Practices for Academic Departments. Best Practices provides simple, concrete suggestions to improve climate and increase LGBT+ visibility within your department and across campus. I will present twenty of these suggestions and discuss ways to implement them. Given recent legal changes at the state and federal level, the document is due for revision. I will discuss these changes and the current landscape of LGBT+ equality.

Van Dixon is a scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Throughout his career, he has used a variety of space-borne far-ultraviolet spectrographs to study hot stars and gas in the Galaxy. As a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University, he participated in space-shuttle flights of the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope in 1990 and 1995. As a postdoc at U.C. Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, he helped to operate the Berkeley Spectrometer on the ORFEUS-II space-shuttle mission in 1996. He returned to JHU in 2001 to work on FUSE (and later COS) and joined STScI in 2011, where he is an instrument scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Dr. Dixon chairs the Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) of the American Astronomical Society.


Date:   Thu 03-Dec-2015
Speaker:   Sam Leitner
Title:  Leaving Academia for Tech: Stories and lessons from the transition

After part of a postdoc in astrophysics at UMD, I started searching for a path out of academia. The process was mysterious, and sometimes terrifying, as I bounced between interviews for positions like junior software engineer and head data scientist of a huge multinational corporation. In this seminar, I'll demystify some of the transition process. I'll also discuss lessons from my time working in industry -- lessons that could help you be both a better candidate for non-academic careers, and very possibly a more efficient science researcher.


Date:   Thu 10-Dec-2015
Speaker:   Discussion led by Lori Feaga
Title:  Pop Quiz - Hire Her?

What do you do when you have done everything you can to prepare for your career, but in the end it does not seem to count because factors beyond your control prohibit you from getting hired? When faced with the stress and process of applying for grad school, a job, a promotion, or tenure, it can be very discouraging to know the statistics of landing the position may not be in your favor due to gender, race, or sexual orientation. On the other hand, faculty members on admissions, hiring, or tenure committees, are not always armed with all the facts or aware of the biases. A diverse work force, with highly qualified employees that acknowledge and celebrate a healthy work-life balance, will result in a better and more productive work environment. I will present some simple scenarios similar to those recently posted on the Women in Astronomy blog and we will discuss best practices that could be implemented in the various situations. If time permits, we may also discuss how to improve at preparing your own application materials, writing recommendation letters for others, chairing admissions or search committees, by considering issues of equality and inclusion.


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