List of Past BANG Seminars : 01-Jan-2021 to 01-Jun-2021


Date:   Thu 25-Mar-2021
Speaker:   EDI Committee
Title:  "Bridge Programs: Overview"

The upcoming BANG! Seminar will be organized by the members of the EDI Committee and is the first in a two-part BANG! Seminar series about Bridge Programs. The EDI Committee members will provide an overview of the existing Bridge programs in the US as a preparation for the upcoming BANG! talk by Dr. Keivan Stassun, one of the founders of the successful Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge program in astronomy and physics. Part of this BANG! Seminar will serve to open a conversation and initiate brainstorming of ideas about what it would look like and what would it take to create an analogous program involving our Department.


Date:   Thu 01-Apr-2021
Speaker:   Keivan Guadalupe Stassun (Vanderbilt University)
Title:  "A Model for Dramatically Increasing Diversity in Physics & Astronomy at the PhD Level"

This talk will discuss how partnerships with minority-serving institutions, such as the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program which he co-directed for more than 10 years, can help to achieve the goal of increasing STEM diversity at the doctoral level. During the discussion, Stassun will summarize three core strategies: (1) replacing the GRE in admissions with indicators that are more predictive of long-term success; (2) partnering with a minority-serving institution for student training through collaborative research; and (3) using the master’s degree as a deliberate steppingstone to the PhD, with a wraparound mentoring model. Stassun will draw on his experiences as a nationally leading voice for diversity in STEM, including as a member of the National Science Foundation's Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering, and as a member of multiple National Academies studies on Effective Mentoring in STEM and Promising Practices for Addressing Underrepresentation in STEM. The session will conclude with a mentoring model and toolkit which may be used to support the success of all PhD students.

After earning A.B. degrees in physics and astronomy from UC Berkeley, and the PhD in astrophysics from the University of Wisconsin, Stassun was a NASA Hubble postdoctoral fellow before joining the Vanderbilt faculty in 2003. A recipient of a CAREER award from NSF and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, Stassun’s research on stars and exoplanets has appeared in more than 400 peer-reviewed journal articles. He is a co-investigator for the NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission, chairs the executive committee of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and serves on the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Steering Committee for Astronomy and Astrophysics. From 2004 to 2015, he served as founding director of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-PhD Bridge Program, which has become one of the nation’s top producers of PhDs to underrepresented minorities in the physical sciences.


Date:   Thu 15-Apr-2021
Speaker:   Lisa Winter (NSF)
Title:  "Science Policy and How Science Gets Funded"

The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds both the next breakthroughs in scientific research and helps build the next generation of scientists. The process of how this all works can be opaque on the outside! In this talk, I’ll share lessons learned from my time at NSF – how the funding process works, what a Program Director does, and how I got here from a UMD graduate student.

Dr. Winter received her Ph.D. in 2008 working at NASA GSFC with Richard Mushotzky and Chris Reynolds on active galaxies. She was a Hubble Fellow at the University of Colorado. Following this, she was a scientist in industry and then at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where she won an Early Career Research award. She has been the Program Director for Magnetospheric Physics in the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences at NSF since 2018.


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