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I am passionate about improving diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) within physics and academia. I have worked to support this goal, that will ultimately advance our knowledge in astronomy and create a more equitable society, through several roles.
The Inclusive Astronomy 2 conference was held at Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in October 2019. The conference series aims to bring together members of the community to listen to the experiences of marginalized individuals, and provide recommendations for how to improve DEI in astronomy. As Co-chair of the Local Organizing Committee, I oversaw designing and implementing new meeting policies to hold an accessible and inclusive meeting. Based on lessons learned, the LOC put together a comprehensive document of recommendations for the astronomy community to plan future inclusive conferences.
I led an initiative by STScI's Women in Astronomy Forum to survey members of the research staff at STScI on the factors affecting their ability to attend conferences. This resulted in an Astro2020 white paper (Prichard et al. 2019) with recommendations for the community and STScI leadership for planning more inclusive conferences. The recommendations are summarised in this newsletter article.
I was an elected and active member of STScI's Invision Working Group from November 2018 for a two-year term. Invision's role is to establish and uphold a civil and inclusive environment for a diverse staff, and advocate for the concerns, needs, and rights of employees at STScI. During my time in Invision, I co-created the Outreach Mentor Program which supports the STScI STEM Development Program, that provides year-round, flexible STEM experiences to people in the Baltimore area.
I am passionate about science communication and outreach as a means of achieving more diversity in the field. I was an Astronomy on Tap (AoT), Baltimore organizer in 2019. I have given several public talks, including at AoT and the Maria Mitchell Observatory (MMO) on Nantucket, MA, USA, where I was interviewed for an article in Yesterday’s Island. I was an MMO Affiliated Astronomer in summer 2019, supervising and mentoring an REU intern, Celia Mulcahey, on a research project. I regularly volunteered at Stargazing Oxford and telescope evenings while in Oxford, and was interviewed for an article in the Independent on Sunday about the rising popularity of physics.
I served as an Events Coordinator for the Oxford Women in Physics (OxWiP) Society. The society exists to address the gender imbalance in physics through educational and social events, and through mentoring. During my time as Events Coordinator, I invited and hosted influential physicists to talk about their experiences in the field, such as Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE FRS (Oxford), Professor Meg Urry (Yale), Professor Jo Dunkley (Oxford/Princeton), and Professor Melissa Franklin (Harvard).
I spent a year in the elected role of President of the Christ Church Graduate Common Room (GCR), University of Oxford, representing the graduates both college- and university-wide. I chaired a committee of 30 people, overseeing the support of the graduates, hosting events, and working towards the inclusion of all members. During my term I successfully campaigned for the rainbow flag to be flown for the first time in Christ Church, and annually for the duration of LGBT History Month. I helped to facilitate the running of the first race awareness workshops led by GCR members in Christ Church, and the move for the GCR to support Oxford's 'Rhodes Must Fall' campaign, as well as the continued running of sexual consent workshops. (Image: Rainbow flag flown in Christ Church. Credit: Edited by Katt Walton.)