ERC Faculty Member Serves as Role Model for Women in Science and Engineering

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

A faculty member at the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology (ERC EUV), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center headquartered at Colorado State University, is serving as a role model for women in science and engineering (S&E). She is particularly passionate about increasing the number of women and minorities in S&E.

Impact/benefits: 

Professor Margaret Murnane, a leader in the field of ultrafast laser and x-ray science, recognizes that attracting our nation's top minds to S&E is vital for the United States to take full advantage of its intellectual capital. She strongly believes that fulfilling her passion–more women and minorities in S&E–is critical. In addition, she believes that all scientists and engineers do better if good management practices and metrics are in place to encourage the type of changes needed to make S&E more attractive to women and minority students; academe in particular needs to change to attract the top minds to S&E. 

Explanation/Background: 

Dr. Murnane participates in local, national, and international programs to celebrate and promote women and minorities in S&E. To achieve these goals, she has served on and chaired committees for the American Physical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. National Medal of Science, all with the goal of increasing diversity at all levels in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Since the 1990s, she has participated in Site Visit Teams that advise universities and national laboratories on improving the climate for women in science, and she co-authored a Best Practices Manual (http://www.aps.org/programs/women/reports/bestpractices/index.cfm) based on her experiences. She recalls that participating in site visits to other institutions could often be both “extremely instructive and extremely frustrating.” Visits were instructive because she found she was not alone in problems she had experienced, and they were frustrating because most women were experiencing similar roadblocks.

Margaret has given numerous lectures encouraging students (see figure), including her 2008 Plenary Lecture, “How to watch atoms sing, electrons hop, and molecules dance using fast light pulses to serve and control nature” (given at the Quadrennial Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma, hosted at Fermi Laboratory, to 700 undergraduates). In 2010 she was the opening speaker at the “Growing Tall Poppies (GTP)” conference in Melbourne, Australia, and in 2013 she presented a keynote address to the Annual Undergraduate Women in Physics Conference, which was broadcast to seven other institutions with more than 1,000 female undergrads in the full audience.