Emily Ayshford

Physics courses have a reputation among university students: If you don’t do well, then you probably weren’t meant to study science after all. Studies have shown that those who face the worst consequences from this mentality are those who are already less likely to be found in many STEM fields: women, underrepresented minorities and students from low-income backgrounds. The SEISMIC project aims to make introductory STEM courses successful for everyone.

Right now could be considered one of the best — and most uncertain — times in theoretical physics. That’s what Symmetry heard in interviews with 10 junior faculty in the field. They talk about what keeps them up at night, their favorite places to think and how they explain their jobs to nonscientists.

Physics professor Jason Nordhaus is working to reduce barriers to STEM for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, who face numerous barriers when trying to study technical STEM fields like physics. Physicists like Nordhaus are trying to change all that with specialized programs, classes and interpreter training, all aimed at reducing barriers in STEM.

Physicists often find thrifty, ingenious ways to reuse equipment and resources. What do you do about an 800-ton magnet originally used to discover new particles? Send it off on a months-long journey via truck, train and ship halfway across the world to detect oscillating particles called neutrinos, of course. It’s all part of the vast recycling network of the physics community.