DEI Committee

The DEI Committee in the School of Physics at Georgia Institute of Technology is committed to working to build and sustain an equitable and inclusive work environment where cultural diversity is celebrated and valued. We believe diversity benefits and enriches the development of all students, staff, and faculty in our department and community.

Members

Emily Alicea-Muñoz (Co-Chair), Flavio Fenton (Co-Chair), David Ballantyne (Faculty), Claire Berger (Faculty), Harold Kim (Faculty), Colin Parker (Faculty), Shaun Ashley (Staff), Edwin Chan (Postdoc), Mateo Reynoso, Andrew Wu (Graduate Students), Nadia Qutob, John Sullivan, Aniketh Swain (Undergraduate Students)

Dr. Emily Alicea-Muñoz, Co-Chair

Faculty

I’m an Academic Professional in the School of Physics, my research focus is physics education, and I am a native of Puerto Rico. At some points in my career I’ve been one of many Latinos in the room in places with high representation (e.g., at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), and at other points I’ve been the only Latina in the room, feeling like the odd one out. My interest in DEI comes from wanting all people to feel represented and that they belong, to prevent them from feeling like the odd one out. Improving diversity in physics increases the pool of talent, which provides new perspectives and can lead to better science. Equity and inclusion are needed for the retention of said talent, and to ensure a climate of professionalism and camaraderie where everyone’s voices are heard and respected.

Dr. Flavio Fenton, Co-Chair

Faculty

Just as I strive to give students the best education possible, I consider it equally important to offer students an environment of equity, where all can feel included regardless of diversity so that they can succeed in all aspects of their lives, from their professional to their personal lives, as success and happiness requires a good balance from both. I aim to help create and maintain a welcoming atmosphere at GT and the School of Physics for all our students, postdocs, staff, and faculty.

My office is always open and is a safe space, so you are welcome to contact me, as you would for academic office hours, with any equity, inclusion, or diversity issues you would like to discuss.

Dr. David Ballantyne

Faculty

David Ballantyne is a Professor and the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the School of Physics. I am committed to ensuring that educational opportunities in physics and astrophysics are welcoming, supportive, and enriching for people from every background and community.

Dr. Harold Kim

Faculty

As a member of the DEI committee, I will work to make sure that people from all backgrounds, especially underrepresented groups, can feel at home in our School and have access to resources necessary to achieve their education or professional goals.

Dr. Colin Parker

Faculty

I am an associate professor in the School of Physics studying atomic, molecular, and optical (AMO) physics. My research has two thrusts: using laser-cooled atoms to simulate quantum many-body phenomena and using conventional cryogenic techniques to trap atoms in solid noble gases for sensing and fundamental physics applications. I am committed to making the School a friendly and inclusive place for students, faculty, and everyone else to learn, practice, and talk about physics.

Shaun Ashley

Staff

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is the foundation for developing a strong, progressive, and innovative cultural environment. In my roles as Faculty Support Coordinator, and recent role as Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) summer program coordinator, I engage with diverse groups of faculty, students, and staff. My passion for working in multicultural and underrepresented communities is driven by my vision to increase the level of equity, and inclusion for all. Why, because I believe that a unified DEI community, will positively impact and create a truly holistic experience in our school, the institute, and beyond. I am honored and continue to be enthused to be a part of such a powerful initiative!

Edwin Chan

Postoc

I am a postdoc in astrophysics in the School of Physics.

I strongly believe science in general, and physics and astronomy, in particular, should be made accessible to all. Because each person comes from a different background, there are multiple unique ways of arriving at the same fundamental truth. This diversity is the core strength of our teaching and research: Students and teachers understand the subject matter more thoroughly by looking at it from a variety of angles, and cutting-edge research benefits from the continual injection of novel ideas and tools. But it is not enough that the community is diverse; it must also be inclusive and equitable because people can thrive only if they are not restricted in the opportunities available to them, and they can be their best only if they are not distracted by unfair practices around them.

Mateo Reynoso

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student representative of the School of Physics DEI. As an international student Diversity, Equity and Inclusion means embracing people from all different backgrounds and giving opportunities to anyone to better themselves.

Andrew Wu

Graduate Student

My name is Andrew Wu, and I am a second-year graduate student in the GT School of Physics. My path in science through undergraduate and graduate school has taken me through exoplanets and cosmology to the physics of origami here at GT. However, throughout my time studying physics, I have observed more diverse cohorts of potential scientists become more skewed as traditionally underrepresented students in STEM get selected out of the field, whether intentionally or not. As I have overcome my own personal challenges and barriers to pursuing a career in science, I have become passionate about helping others pursue their scientific interests and breaking down systemic barriers that individuals from diverse backgrounds face when pursuing a career in science. To me, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) means that no one who is interested in science should ever question whether they belong in the scientific community based on their background or identity. As a member of the DEI committee, I aim to bring critical awareness to the issues of mental health and neurodiversity and contribute to an enriching and welcoming environment for all members of the School of Physics.

Nadia Qutob

Undergraduate Student

I am committed to supporting the women in my department by creating safe spaces and equal access to facilities such as bathrooms.

I also prioritize disability accommodation and mental health awareness within the School of Physics.

Jack Sullivan

Undergraduate Student

I am a fourth-year undergraduate physics student passionate about astrophysics, quantum information science, and jazz studies. While taking time away from my studies for several years, I worked with organizations such as the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), and Georgia STAND-UP to help bolster equity for minority and underrepresented communities nationwide. Since enrolling as a transfer student at Georgia Tech, I have been committed to strengthening inclusivity and fair opportunity access for all in the School of Physics.

Aniketh Swain

Undergraduate Student

Diversity to me means having the opportunity to interact with people from various backgrounds and learn and appreciate their story. Inclusion to me means ensuring that all people are welcomed and treated with the basic respect that everyone deserves without exception. Equity to me in this context means ensuring that all students have equal access to resources and are all on a similar high footing in terms of support and opportunities

Previous Members

  • Laura Cadonati (Chair, 2020-2021)
  • JC Gumbart (Faculty, 2020-2021)
  • Chandra Raman (Faculty, 2021-2022)
  • Nicole Thompson (Staff, 2020-2021)
  • Danielle Skinner (Graduate Student, 2021-2022)
  • Felicia Davenport (Graduate Student, 2020-2021)
  • Brett Tregoning (Graduate Student, 2020-2021)
  • Ryan Jean (Undergraduate Student, 2020-2021)
  • Jessica Eskew (Undergraduate Student, 2020-2021)