Opening Plenary

The American Physical Society’s Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA)

Despite +30 years of programming aimed at increasing the representation of historically minoritized communities, physics as a community remains woefully un-diverse. For example, in 2020 only about 15% of physics bachelor’s degrees went to Latinx/African American students (combined). Overall, these communities make up ~ 45% of the undergraduate student body. The situation becomes worse as one goes “up the ladder”. For example, only about ~5% of physics faculty come from these two communities combined. So why haven’t programs aimed at increasing diversity worked in physics? In the language of the Theory of Change, previous programs were attempts at first order change in which the means of producing results changed, but not the culture or values of the community. This leads to programming which is not sustainable and produces only local and temporary pockets of success. With APS-IDEA we are attempting to encourage the community to undergo second order change; a process in which values and structures are first addressed before any programming is developed. In this presentation, I will describe how APS-IDEA works to achieve second order change, focusing on how working with the alliance, we use our guiding principles to construct a framework for change.


Plenary Speaker Biography

Dr. Jesús Pando earned his PhD under Prof. Li-Zhi Fang at the University of Arizona. His thesis centered on the development of the wavelet transform for use in the study of large-scale structure. He received the Chateaubriand post-doctoral, followed by an NSF international post-doctoral fellowship to continue his work at the Observatoire de Strasbourg, France.

In general, his research focuses on the uncovering of structure from a noisy background. Originally, he focused the formation of large-scale structure formation in the universe, using higher order correlations to uncover the clustering patterns of matter in the universe. Along with continuing to study large-scale structure, he is also now investigating secondary structure detection and prediction in proteins.

Dr. Pando has long been involved in efforts to increase the number of underrepresented groups in the sciences. He is a founding organizer of the new American Physical Society’s (APS) Forum on Inclusion and Diversity, serves on the steering committee for the APS-IDEA program, and has been a member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) for more than 15 years. He served as a board member of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists for more than decade, chaired the APS Committee on Minorities, and served on the National Academies of Sciences Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. He continues to serve on numerous other committees and panels dealing with the issues faced by underrepresented students and professionals in STEM fields.

Dr. Pando currently serves as the Chair of the Physics and Astrophysics Department at DePaul University.