This summer, inspired by the AIP TEAM-UP report, undergraduate and graduate students came together to establish a new award for faculty and staff in our department. The award is designed to recognize faculty and staff who have had a profound impact on students’ trajectories in physics, with a special emphasis improving equity and inclusion in physics and astronomy through mentorship.
A large number of faculty and staff were nominated this year. The nominations described mentors who were “responsive to the differing needs of students... from different backgrounds” and who made “all students feel welcome and capable.” Nominated mentors helped students grow “confident in [their] abilities” and “[strove] to create an inclusive research group.”
For 2020, Dr. Rachel Bezanson was selected as the recipient of the Inclusive Mentorship Award. Nominators described Dr. Bezanson’s “never-ending fight for inclusivity in physics and astronomy … by encouraging students to join her research group or reassuring those dealing with imposter syndrome”. One student explained how Dr. Bezanson made them “feel comfortable asking virtually any question we had” about research, careers in astronomy and physics, and other topics. Another student wrote that Dr. Bezanson “is incredibly good at fostering a sense of community and identity.”
Dr. Bezanson’s name will be the first to be engraved on a new plaque to be hung in Allen Hall.