APS News

APS Bridge Program Annual Meeting

This year's APS Bridge Program meeting (June 25 – 27, 2014) focused on the role of the Master's degree in advancing underrepresented minority students toward PhDs in physics.

July 8, 2014

Attendees of the APS Bridge Program Summer Meeting 2014 at APS Headquarters in College Park, MD.

APS Bridge Program Summer Meeting attendees outside APS Headquarters in College Park, MD.

The APS Bridge Program (APS-BP) held its annual meeting from June 25-27, 2014 at the American Center for Physics in College Park, MD. APS-BP aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) students who receive PhDs in physics. So far, the program has completed two rounds of APS Bridge Site selection and student selection since securing National Science Foundation funding in 2012.

Sixty-eight people attended the meeting, including representatives from APS, the American Institute of Physics (AIP), non-APS bridge programs, and colleges and universities across the United States. Representatives from newly selected Bridge Sites California State University Long Beach and Florida State University, as well as currently funded sites University of South Florida and The Ohio State University came to the meeting and had the opportunity to network with recently selected Bridge Fellows.

This year's meeting focused on the role of the Master's degree in advancing URMs in physics.  In her plenary talk, Sheila Lange, University of Washington, discussed results from an analysis of the Survey of Earned Doctorates that indicates URM students take very different pathways to doctoral degrees compared to White and Asian American students.  Several panel sessions featured representatives from both Master's and PhD-granting institutions who provided varying perspectives on the role the Master's degree plays in improving diversity in physics. A student panel featured physicists who followed various career and educational paths after earning their Master's degrees, providing insights, advice, and reflections on what the degree enabled them to accomplish.

The conference also featured sessions on research on mentoring, non-cognitive admissions measures, graduate admissions practices, and Graduate Record Exam (GRE) bootcamps. Presentations are available online. Bridge program organizers plan to hold another meeting next year.