DIVERSITY & OUTREACH
ATAP’s Kelly Swanson Steps Up to the Plate for a Grad Slam
ATAP Director Wim Leemans congratulates BELLA student Kelly Swanson after watching her take top honors in the “Grad Slam” semifinals at UC Berkeley
|Doctoral research in physics requires a rigorous work ethic and formidable analytical powers — and summarizing it at a scale of less than a minute per year takes presentation skills every bit as strong. ATAP’s Kelly Swanson just proved that she has all these qualities.
Swanson, a doctoral student in the University of California-Berkeley Physics Department and ATAP’s BELLA Center, is the 2017 winner of UCB’s Grad Slam. The event challenges graduate students from each UC campus to explain their research in three minutes, live and onstage along the lines of a poetry or storytelling “slam.” In addition to first prize from the distinguished panel of judges, she won the “People’s Choice” award in an audience vote.
Swanson will go on to compete against peers from the other eight UC campuses in the final round on May 4. Click here to see the full story on the UCB Physics Department website.
“I’m proud of what she has accomplished,” said ATAP Director Wim Leemans, who is Swanson’s research advisor. (Prof. Marjorie Shapiro, of the UCB Physics Department and LBNL’s Physics Division, is her faculty advisor.) Dr. Leemans added, “She presented a complicated aspect of what particle physics is all about, why there is a need for innovation, and how the laser plasma accelerator technology we are developing at BELLA Center has the potential to change the way future accelerators will be built — and all that in just three minutes! She did it with lots of energy and charm as well.”
Another LBNL/UCB Physics student, Stephanie Mack, who works at the Lab’s Molecular Foundry, took third place in the field of eight semifinalists representing a variety of graduate disciplines throughout the campus.
The competition helps build skills that will pay off throughout a scientific life. Dr. Fiona Doyle, Dean of the Graduate Division, quoted in an article on the Graduate Division website, praised the “true passion for the research that our students are doing” that came through in their talks, “and also the significant work they put in to distill it to a concise format that could be grasped by everyone in the audience.”
Our congratulations to all the competitors, and best wishes to Kelly in the final round!
ATAP Postdoc Serena Persichelli Wins “Accelerating Diversity Prize” from International Collaboration
Editor’s Note: Dr. Persichelli was recently awarded the “Accelerating Diversity Prize” by the CERN-based Future Circular Collider (FCC) collaboration, which looks toward machines beyond the Large Hadron Collider, and has been invited to participate in the 2017 FCC Week conference. Here she shares her thoughts on being a young woman building a career in a traditionally male-dominated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] field. The article was originally published as “Diversity matters for the FCC collaboration,” 23 February 2017, and is reprinted by courtesy of CERN.
I am currently employed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), where I am involved in the conceptual design studies for the Advanced Light Source upgrade (ALS-U). I am still collaborating with my home university and CERN in the framework of the FCC studies: in this context I work on the beam-wall interaction in new devices designed for the FCC-ee machine.
I have decided to join the Particle Accelerators field inspired by the idea to be part of world leading science projects designed to be unsurpassed by any currently envisioned technology, such as LHC and FCC. To pursue this interest, I studied Electronics Engineering in the University of Rome La Sapienza. My PhD research project, based on the study of the beam-wall interaction in proton machines, was entirely carried out at CERN, when in 2012 I joined the Hadron Synchrotron Collective effects section (HSC). I am currently employed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL), where I am involved in the conceptual design studies for the Advanced Light Source upgrade (ALS-U). I am still collaborating with my home university and CERN in the framework of the FCC studies: in this context I work on the beam-wall interaction in new devices designed for the FCC-ee machine.
During the course of my studies, I encountered a number of preconceptions and biases about women in STEM. I realized that biases and negative stereotypes, whether intentional or otherwise, contribute in pushing women out of scientific careers.
I strongly believe that is fundamental to promote diversity and women participation in STEM and engineering programs. Even if the number of young female scientists joining big centres like CERN is increasing every year, there is still not enough diversity inside smaller groups, specially in US Labs.
To positively impact junior female scientists, misconceptions about women in STEM must be eradicated. I think is very important to give women more visibility in their field of expertise, endorsing them to engage in leading and managing roles, promoting their active participation at science conferences and workshops, encouraging them to act as a resource for younger scientists.