It’s being called one of the largest academic meetings of minority physicists in the United States. And with more than 600 expected attendees, it’s hard to argue with the claim.
This week, the 2015 Conference of the National Society of Black Physicists will convene at the Hilton in Baltimore. Coincidentally (or maybe not), that’s a short drive away from Morgan State University, where NSBP was founded in 1977 “to promote the professional well-being of African American physicists and physics students within the international scientific community and within society at large.”
No doubt some of those physicists and physics students will arrive in Baltimore with some pent up excitement. That’s because this year’s conference—cosponsored by Associated Universities, Inc, which operates the National Radio Astronomy Observatory—is NSBP’s first in four years. The previous one, in 2011, was a joint meeting with the National Society of Hispanic Physicists that received positive reviews, according to the Minority Postdoc.
It’s worth highlighting the NSBP mission, because it might explain why we’re excited the conference is back:
The organization seeks to develop and support efforts to increase opportunities for African Americans in physics and to increase their numbers and visibility of their scientific work. It also seeks to develop activities and programs that highlight and enhance the benefits of the scientific contributions that African American physicists provide for the international community. The society seeks to raise the general knowledge and appreciation of physics in the African American community.
So what’s in store for this week? Here are 5 noteworthy things:
- Re-Visioning the Future of Scientific Leadership. That’s the chosen theme for this week’s conference. In his welcome letter, NSBP president and Hampton University professor Paul Gueye writes: “We believe that in order for the American scientific community to continue down a positive path of growth, we must revise and alter the current path of scientific leadership. Our future looks bright and we are optimistic that through many ongoing and new initiatives, we are heading in the positive direction to make substantial changes in the way people will look at physics.”
- Hundreds of eager students. At least 250 students—some of them presenting technical posters—are expected to be in attendance. The National Science Foundation alone is sponsoring 246 students. Naturally, many (but not all) of the students study at HBCUs, which educate a disproportionately high number of Black physicists.
- An outstanding lineup of keynote speakers. First first keynote speaker will be Nobel Prize winner and NIST condensed-matter physicist William (Bill) Phillips. He’s followed by University of Connecticut Research Physics Professor Ronald Mallett (see below), an expert in black holes and other research areas in cosmology (including time travel).
- Physicists in the Media. During a luncheon on Saturday, a distinguished panel featuring several more distinguished speakers will focus on the role of physicists in the media. Those speakers are: Dr. Aziza Baccouche (Founder of AZIZA Productions); DeVan Hankerson (Research Director at Minority Media and Telecommunications Council); Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi (Associate Professor of Physics and Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology); and Dione (Dee) Rossiter (Director of the AAAS Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellows Program).
- Physics in full effect. Not lacking for topical diversity, the NSBP conference will include technical talks in astronomy and astrophysics, high-energy physics, condensed-matter physics, biophysics, and physics education research. Click here to download the conference program book.
Lastly, before, during, and after the conference, we’ll be keeping an eye on @NSBPInc (NSBP’s official Twitter handle) and the conference hashtag: #NSBP15. (@Blackphysicists, another associated Twitter handle, is one of the most prolific scientific accounts on Twitter, with 178 000 tweets and counting and more than 9000 followers.)