Physics and Astronomy Climate and Diversity Committee

About Us

The Climate and Diversity Committee is committed to providing a welcoming climate within the School of Physics and Astronomy with special emphasis on inclusion, diversity and community building. Our mission is to support communication, and to prevent bullying, discrimination, and harassment. Our members are drawn from all the cohorts of the School, including undergraduate and graduate students, researchers, staff, and faculty. We work closely with other organized forums whose goals overlap with ours, such as SPS, GradPhi, and WIPA. 

Professor Lindsay Glesener (she/her, committee chair) -- I am an astrophysicist who mainly studies the Sun. I collaborate on building new X-ray instruments as well as analyzing solar data from past and current spacecraft. Although I find this line of work very fulfilling, my academic path to get here wasn't a straight line. I had another career and tried other majors before I found physics as my calling. Not everyone knows what they want to do from the very beginning, and there are many paths by which you can accomplish your goals. 

Contact:, Tate Hall 262

Ravneet Bedi (he/him) -- I am a graduate student, working in high energy physics. My work focuses on looking at models of "axions".  There are certain symmetries that we happen to observe but do not expect to be there in nature- one such case, called the "strong CP problem" can be explained by these hypothetical particles, called axions. I have had a great experience at the School, beyond just the academic opportunities, where each member of the school tries to provide a safe and welcoming environment. And I, as a part of C&DC, hope to continue that spirit by listening to the experiences of those usually left out so that we can overcome the disparity that we see in Physics.

Contact:, Tate Hall 201-01

Professor Priscilla Cushman -- I have had lots of experience working in large collaborations in high energy physics. In the past, this included work at CERN, but then I got interested in direct detection of dark matter using cryogenic solid state techniques. The new SuperCDMS experiment is being built at SNOLAB, a deep underground laboratory in Canada and is composed of 20 institutions from the US, Canada, UK, and India. Large research groups can be both daunting and exciting. I can share my experience and give you some pointers. Whether you join a large or a small research group, you should be able to have a fulfilling research experience and trust that your contributions are valued. 

Contact:, PAN 327

Professor Andrew Furmanski  (He/Him) -- I am a particle physicist. My research focuses on neutrinos, with a current emphasis on how neutrinos interact with nuclei.  I work in large, diverse, international collaborations, spending many years designing, building, and operating, building-sized detectors that allow us to learn about the behaviour of particles that really don't like to be seen.

I love talking about my research, and about how physics impacts our daily lives.  Whoever you are, and wherever you're from, physics is universal and everyone is welcome in our community! 

Contact:, PAN 346

Alex Hamill (he/him) -- I am a sixth-year graduate student working in experimental condensed matter physics. In my undergraduate studies, I was involved with research investigating topological superconductivity in semiconducting nanowires. Earlier on in my time at the University of Minnesota, I was involved with research investigating the mixing of different superconducting channels in two-dimensional materials. My current research investigates the nonlinear dynamics associated with magnon scattering in ferromagnetic materials. These experiences have shown me first-hand the virtues and values of having a collegial, diverse, and energizing environment. Through my work in the Climate and Diversity Committee, I am hoping to play a part in having our physics community increasingly reflect these ideals. 

Contact:, PAN 232

Professor Vuk Mandic -- I work in the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, focusing on searches for gravitational waves (LIGO, LISA) and dark matter (SuperCDMS). My work involves large collaborations, lots of data analysis, cool cryogenic particle detectors, and even some seismology. I also lead the NSF Research Training program named Data Science in Multi-Messenger Astrophysics - in addition to bringing together astrophysics and data science students and faculty, this program aims to broaden the participation in STEM fields and develop socio-emotional aspects of graduate student training.  

Contact:, PAN 328

Ben Messerly -- Using intense particle accelerators and elaborate, custom-made detectors, I study the neutrino and the muon – fundamental particles of our universe that don't make up everyday matter. My focus in particular has been on neutrino beams, neutrino interactions with matter, and building a detector to search for muon properties beyond the Standard Model muon properties. I'm interested in improving access and inclusion in the physics community, and in improving science communication more broadly. 

Contact:, PAN 350

Amy Nastrom Nordlander -- I am an alumna of the UMN CLA in English Literature and have worked at the UMN TC campus for over 16 years. In the words of US inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, "Poetry has never been the language of barriers, it's always been the language of bridges." I hope to assist with bridge building while serving on the SPA Climate & Diversity Committee. 

Contact:, PAN 237

Colin Weber (he/him) -- I am a second-year graduate student studying high-energy particle phenomenology, specifically how we can make light dark matter experiments more sensitive. Before coming to Minnesota, I worked in an experimental nuclear physics research group at Argonne National Laboratory, and as an undergrad I researched contact binary stars. In my spare time, I like to run, play the trumpet, and read Tolkien. I believe in the power of creating welcoming spaces where people of all identities can be seen and find purpose.


Kate Hildebrandt -- Undergraduate student and SPS representative


Past Members