With support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, the Division of Physical Sciences at UC San Diego has established the Margaret Burbidge Visiting Professorship, part of an effort to bring eminent female physicists to the university for collaborative research within its Department of Physics. Three visiting professors from Columbia University, ESPCI Paris, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will fill the inaugural role beginning in the fall.
This funding comes from the Foundation’s women in physics and astronomy grantmaking, which works to increase the number of women in these fields, both in colleges and in academic and research careers in the United States.
Although women make up almost 50 percent of physics students in high school, they comprise only 10 percent of full professors in the United States. In astronomy, the numbers aren’t much better, with women making up only 15 percent of full professors. Gender inequities exist at many points along the career paths in these two fields, from undergraduate and graduate programs to assistant faculty and associate faculty positions.
The inaugural Burbidge professors are:
- Elena Aprile, a professor of physics at Columbia University in New York City
- Annie Colin, a professor with the École Supérieure de Physiques et de Chimie Industrielle, ESPCI Paris and an expert on soft matter
- Smitha Vishveshwara, a condensed matter theorist in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign