Diversity Matters – some strategies that could broaden participation

DIPC Seminars

Talat S Rahman
Department of Physics, University of Central Florida
DIPC Josebe Olarra Auditorium
DIPC, The Gipuzkoa Provincial Council.
Add to calendar


Subscribe to Newsletter
Diversity Matters – some strategies that could broaden participation

It is interesting to note that the demand for diversity in the workforce originated not from academia or governmental agencies but from the major global industrial sector.  The reason is obvious – the more diverse the workforce the more the opportunity to harness original thinking and creativity. Years of practice has brought the recognition that diversity has to come with equity and inclusion – DEI. So, what are some strategies that may help us enhance participation in physics of groups who have been traditionally underrepresented?

In this talk/dialogue I will discuss a couple of programs, partnered by the American Physical Society, that have helped the Physics Department at University of Central Florida to enhance DEI in its composition and mission. For example, the number of graduate students from under-represented minority groups rose from about 4% in 2014 to 22% in 2019. Nine of these students have already graduated with PhDs and several should be doing so in the coming years.  I will discuss our strategies for recruiting, mentoring and retention of students (and faculty members) in the program, highlighting good practices that have led to successes and lessons learned from our failures.  I will also comment on some of the effects these initiatives have had on departmental culture, inclusivity, and attitudes towards students.  If successful, we will see how such practices work not to elevate individuals disqualified by deficiencies of talent or grit but to ensure that society benefits from the success of people who otherwise would not have entered into physics or been prevented from achieving excellence in teaching or research.   

Zoom: https://dipc-org.zoom.us/j/96329950342
YouTube: https://youtube.com/live/UvB9eAq0FFk

About the speaker

Talat Rahman is a UCF Trustee Chair Professor and a Pegasus Professor of Physics at University of Central Florida (UCF).  She received her BS in Physics from University of Karachi, MS from Islamabad (now Quaid-e-Azam) University, and PhD in Physics from University of Rochester. After serving as a postdoctoral researcher and assistant research physicist at University of California, Irvine, she went through the professorial ranks at Kansas State University (1983-2006). She was appointed University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University in 2001. She joined the University of Central Florida in 2006 as a Distinguished Professor of Physics and served as the chair of Physics for almost 10 years.

At UCF, she has led the effort to transform undergraduate instructions by infusing evidence-based active-learning strategies. She has been involved in efforts to promote the participation of women and minorities, particularly through the Bridge Program of American Physical Society, one of whose sites she helped establish at UCF with the goal of increasing the number of physics PhDs from underrepresented minority (URM) groups. She helped establish the DEI Committee of the American Vacuum Society (AVS) that strives to enhance DEI in all activities of AVS. She is the recipient of the AVS 2022 Mentoring Award.

She was also instrumental in establishing a faculty cluster in Renewable Energy and Chemical Transformations (REACT) at UCF in 2015 which she continues to lead. Her research interests are in computational design of functional nanomaterials through the development of a microscopic understanding of their physical and chemical properties.  She is a fellow of AAAS, APS and AVS and chair of the APS Division of Computational Physics (DCOMP).