Thursday, January 21, 2021

Cross-post: We’re Past Due for a SEA Change

 By Alexis Knaub

While it’s no secret that we in physics and astronomy still have much progress to make, our field has begun the journey of addressing the disproportionate challenges faced by our colleagues from groups underrepresented in physics, including those who are Black, Latin American, Indigenous, Asian, female, LGBT+, and/or are disabled.

A major issue we must confront is that many of our learning and work environments aren’t set up for all of us to thrive as our whole, authentic selves. There are many reasons for this, ranging from systemic barriers to individual actions. There are people in physics who blatantly promote harmful beliefs or actions. There are also many people who mean well but subconsciously cause harm.

All of us have unconscious biases, beliefs, or preferences of which we are unaware and for which we lack supporting evidence. For example, the editor-in-chief of Physics World noted a time he assumed two astronomers in a story were middle-aged white men when, in fact, they were young women. As the author points out, his unconscious bias—assuming an astronomer is a middle-aged white man—can have other impacts, such as whom he selects for different jobs. Because they are not deliberate, unconscious biases are hard to unseat. Becoming aware of them and actively working on them are important first steps.

To provide the best possible environment for everyone in our departments, those who witness or learn of problematic situations have a responsibility to ensure harm doesn’t continue. We must dismantle barriers rooted in racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, ableism, and more. These barriers have nothing to do with learning or working in physics and are detrimental to the progress of the field. To do so, departments must work together internally and with support from the broader community.

Read more in the Sigma Pi Sigma Fall 2020 edition of Radiations magazine at

You can read more about the AAAS SEA Change Departmental Awards at

Please email any questions about the CSWA's involvement with SEA Change to our SEA Change representative Stella Kafka at

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Apply for the Carnegie Astrophysics Summer Student Internship Program

By Gwen Rudie

CASSI interns on the catwalk 
of the 200 inch Hale Telescope 
at the Palomar Observatory.

The Carnegie Astrophysics Summer Student Internship Program (CASSI) is a 10 week, paid internship and educational program based at Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, CA. CASSI welcomes a diverse cohort of 10-15 undergraduates annually, most of whom are students at colleges and universities in Southern California. CASSI Interns collaborate with Carnegie astronomers on original research projects from studying exoplanets to distant galaxies. Some CASSI interns also work with Carnegie scientists and engineers on the next generation of cameras and spectrographs for our telescopes.

One unique aspect of CASSI is its educational program that includes over 60 activities during the summer designed to improve students' fluency and ease with scientific communication and scientific computing — two skills required for scientific advancement, but rarely the focus in traditional educational settings. The program begins each year with a coding bootcamp intended to give interns a running start. Other activities occurring throughout the summer include workshops on diversity, equity, and inclusion in astronomy, a talk series by professional scientists at Carnegie about their research, professional development sessions that focus on developing scientific fluency and communication skills, and other programming aimed at introducing the students to the practice of science and the scientific community at Carnegie. The program also features structured mentoring and other forms of professional development intended to fully support the students during the program and in their future careers.

We embarked on a new program this past summer to better support our 2020 interns remotely and formed mentoring teams for each of our students which included scientific staff members and also CASSI alums, including former students now in graduate schools across the country. Each mentor supported our students in different ways, and together they formed a team capable of supporting all aspects of our diverse class of interns. The new team structure was so well received by our students, we plan to include this approach as a staple of our program — even once we hold our programs on campus again.

CASSI is currently accepting applications for summer 2021. We hope to hold the program in person at our Pasadena campus, but if that is not possible due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, we will hold it remotely as we did successfully in 2020. One of the goals of the summer program at Carnegie is to increase participation and retention of under-represented groups in astronomy. We encourage Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous scholars, first-generation college students, and women to apply. Applications are due January 31, 2021. To learn more about CASSI, please visit our program website.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

CSWA @ the 237th AAS Meeting

by Nicolle Zellner and Jeremy Bailin

AAS meeting participants are invited to join members of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) at their Splinter Session on January 12 (6:50 pm to 8:20 pm ET) to learn about CSWA activities. Based on input to the committee's 2019 community survey, the CSWA is beginning to develop and undertake projects to support the committee's Strategic Plan for the 2020s, which will guide the committee's efforts for the next decade. In this session, participants will learn about the committee's Strategic Plan, its focus areas, objectives, and potential projects. They will also learn about opportunities to become involved in the process of implementing the projects and assessing the outcomes.

Meet & Greet: A Strategic Plan for the Next 10 Years

Date: January 12, 2021
Time: 6:50 PM to 8:20 PM EST
Session ID # 169

We’d love to receive your questions ahead of time, so please fill out this survey. We’ll also take questions during the session itself.

Other meeting sessions that may be of interest to you include:

Be the Captain of your PhD, Jan. 7th, 12:00 pm–4:00pm ET
Grad School Fair, Jan. 10th, 11:00 am–3:00 pm ET (visit the CSWA's virtual booth!)
CSMA Panel: A Discussion on Anti-Blackness in Astronomy, Jan. 11th, 12:00–1:30 pm ET
Networking from Afar and Mastering the Informational Interview, Jan. 11th, 12:00–1:30 pm ET
Combat Impostor Syndrome, Jan. 11th, 4:10–5:40 pm ET
Enhancing Participation of Minority Serving Institutions, Jan. 11th, 6:50–8:20 pm ET
SGMA Meet & Greet for LGBTQIA Members and Students, Jan. 11th, 6:50–8:20 pm ET
NASA’s Opportunities for Scientists to Engage with Learners of all Ages, Jan. 12th, 4:10–5:40 pm ET
STARtorialist: Introduction to the Universe of Astro-Fashion, Jan. 13th, 12:00–12:30 pm ET
Evaluating a Job Offer, Jan. 14th, 2:40–3:10 pm ET

More career, networking, poster, exhibitor, and science sessions can be found on the AAS "at a glance" block schedule by clicking through the date tabs at the top.

We look forward to seeing you next week!

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Join the Women in Astronomy Blog Team!

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) is seeking volunteers from the community to join the Women in Astronomy blog team as writers and editors, to produce and share content that is relevant to women-identifying astronomers. Previous writing experience is not necessary. Team members will be responsible for producing an original blog post or cross-posting relevant articles once a month. They will work with the Blogger-in-Chief to brainstorm ideas, coordinate posts, and follow-up with projects that are in the works.

A time commitment of at least one year is desired. If you are interested, please fill out the form below. Members of the CSWA and the Women in Astronomy blogging team will contact you with the next steps.

If you are interested in writing a one-time blog post, please send a short pitch (<300) words to