Local physicist to give lecture on minority students in the sciences

David Saakyan

CSUN will have the distinct honor of hosting a presentation by a Harvard graduate and physicist on the topic of minority students in the sciences.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein will be giving the lecture in the Oviatt Library presentation room on Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission will be free and attendance is open to all CSUN students and faculty.

“She’s a great speaker with important things to say to CSUN faculty members and students, especially those who are interested in the sciences,” said David Klein, mathematical physics professor.

An advocate for diversity in the field of physics and a researcher of theoretical cosmology, Prescod-Weinstein also serves as ex officio member for the National Society for Black Physicists (NSBP) and the National Society for Hispanic Physicists (NSHP).

One of Prescod-Weinstein’s goals in her lecture is to bring awareness about the lack of ethnic and religious diversity in the field of science, she said.

“She is active in both theoretical physics and bringing more minorities into the program,” Klein said.

Klein recently heard Prescod-Weinstein speak on KPFK, a local radio station, and said he contacted the physicist in hopes of helping in the recruitment of minority students into the various science fields offered at CSUN.

Tina Saklian, psychology and biology major, wants to attend the event to further understand why minorities do not play a dominant role in science, she said.

“As a minority, I’ve noticed that there aren’t too many us in the field of science,” said Saklian, 22. “It (science) is the basis of human existence and I hope this lecture will further broaden my knowledge about the topic.”

The importance science plays in our world and society will also be discussed at the lecture.

Dr. Harry Hellenbrand, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the lecture will allow the audience to hear whether the major issues of today will dominate scientific studies in the future.

“It’s hard to pick up the newspaper without finding a policy or issue that doesn’t connect with science,” Hellenbrand said.

In the course of its history in the U.S. and other parts of the world, the field of science has often seen a large demographic of white, mainly male students. Even after the integration of women in the field, there was still a noticeable lack of minority presence.

Prescod-Weinstein’s career as a student and researcher has sent her off to a number of different countries and universities abroad.

Prescod-Weinstein grew up in Los Angeles, but has lived in Massachusetts, Maryland, London and Toronto.

She has been awarded a Bachelor of Arts and a bachelor’s in physics and astrophysics from Harvard College in 2003, a Master of Science and doctoral candidacy in science, astronomy and astrophysics from UC Santa Cruz from 2005 to 2006, and is currently working on her doctoral candidacy in theoretical physics, quantum gravity and cosmology at the University of Waterloo.

Prescod-Weinstein has also served as a researcher and teaching assistant at UC Santa Cruz and University of Waterloo.