Equity & Inclusion, Teaching, and Outreach


Equity and Inclusion Efforts

AstroJustice Reading/Discussion Group

At Berkeley, I was one of the founding members of a social justice focused reading group within the astronomy department, which included undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and research staff. In my last two years at Berkeley, I facilitated the group along with two post-docs and a graduate student, which entailed finding volunteers to lead discussions and handling logistics. We held bi-weekly meetings during which we discussed articles, podcasts, etc. related to issues ranging from imposter syndrom to segregation in public schools to mental health care at universities, and more.

When I arrived at Princeton, there was very little discussion of any social justice issues within the department, and what did occur was limited to the grad student sphere. Along with several other students, I started a Princeton version of AstroJustice in Spring 2018. So far, it’s been going strong.

If you or someone you know has any interest in starting or running such a group, please do not hesitate to reach out! I’m happy to provide materials from past discussions we’ve had or advice on any aspect of coordinating discussions.

Climate Committee

When arriving on campus, I was struck by the lack of climate data and initiatives to improve climate in the astronomy department here at Princeton. Inspired by the Berkeley astronomy department once again, and by discussions with people at Princeton through Astrojustice, I approached department administration about conducting a climate survey to gather information and get ideas for future initiatives.

We have since established a climate committee that includes one staff member, one faculty member, two post-docs, an undergraduate student, a post-baccalaureate student, and a graduate student representative (currently me). The current goal of this committee is to work with the university to administer a climate survey, which should be completed in Fall 2018. Afterward, we plan to use data from the survey to motivate initiatives and changes that will help ensure that Peyton Hall is a comfortable and welcoming place for all.

Mentoring Women in (Astro)Physics

At Princeton, I mentor two female physics majors, which entails regular catch-up sessions and providing general advice and encouragement. I also work with Princeton’s newly founded Undergraduate Women in Physics group to advise them on events to host and programs to run. This has been an incredibly rewarding way to get to know the brilliant undergraduate women here and to support them so that the physics community gets to keep them.

My involvement with women in physics mentorship began at Berkeley, where I was a member and coordinator of the Society of Women in the Physical Sciences, a student group run by female graduate students. There, I was mentored by women who were more senior then me and also got to mentor younger undergraduate women. This network and community of people with shared experiences made my time as a physics major more manageable and enjoyable, inspiring me to participate in mentorship at Princeton, too.


Teaching Experience

Princeton Prison Teaching Initiative

I teach college courses in the New Jersey prison system through the Prison Teaching Initiative (PTI). The aim of PTI is to reduce incarceration rates in NJ by increasing access to higher education in prisons, which helps keep formerly incarcerated people from returning to prison. I feel passionately about this mission and am excited to be involved with PTI. I’ve taught astronomy, algebra, and physics at East Jersey State Prison over the past few years. Since 2020, I also serve as a Graduate Fellow for PTI, which means I help with logistics and instructor trainings for our math and physical science courses.

Teaching Astronomy at Berkeley

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be a Graduate Student Instructor (GSI) for four semesters while an undergraduate at Berkeley. I taught two different courses: an introduction to general astronomy for non-majors (Astro C10) taught by Alex Filippenko, and part two of introductory astrophysics for majors (Astro 7B) taught by Eugene Chiang. My teaching responsibilities included independently running discussion sections (mini-lectures with activities and worksheets) for one to two hours per week, as well as running exam review sessions, helping with homework, etc.

Teaching astronomy for non-majors was fun because it let me get people excited about astronomy and science in general. Many of my students were initially convinced that they were “bad at math” and would never understand or succeed in any science course. However, as time went on, many of them began to believe in themselves and view science as something that they could not only manage, but even love. Teaching a more rigorous course aimed at astrophysics majors was also uniquely rewarding; I had the opportunity to interact with very motivated and bright students who asked challenging questions and had interesting ideas.

I was nominated by my department as an exceptional instructor and received the University’s Outstanding GSI Award in 2017.

Training Researchers

As part of my role in Alex Filippenko’s research group, I was responsible for training observers on the telescopes that the group uses and teaching the basics of relevant coding and science. This leadership role gave me experience with supervising scientists and I gained even more expertise by being forced to teach what I knew.


Outreach

At Princeton, I volunteer at the department’s public observing nights and help out at most one-time outreach events.

Previously, I was a regular volunteer at Lick Observatory in California during the summer public programs for 3 years in a row. I gave short talks about my research to the observatory’s visitors and led tours and explanations of the 1-m telescope.

When at Berkeley, I was the Outreach coordinator for the University’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students and organized participation in many local outreach events. I also volunteered at the Expanding Your Horizons conferences for middle school girls which provides exposure to STEM fields and encourages young girls to explore them. I helped with the astronomy department’s public observing nights there, too, and other events within the department.