Program aims to help Indigenous women get into the world of physics

New Mexico News

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – Indigenous women are the most underrepresented group in physics. Los Alamos National Laboratory is trying to change that with a new program aiming to help women and break down stereotypes. The lab is teaming up with Fort Lewis College in Durango to change that.


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A new program funded by the Department of Energy started last month. Two Fort Lewis undergraduate Indigenous women, majoring in physics will now get mentoring from LANL scientists for a year. “At some point, they will be taking a trip to the European lab which is the largest laboratory for our field in Europe,” said LANL physicist Astrid Morreale.

Morreale says it’s more than just training. “Also break down the stereotypes some people may have on what it takes to be a physicist and what does a physicist look like. It is important to have people from different backgrounds, different ways of life,” Morreale said.

She says while the program aims to help Indigenous women, she stresses that the lab and the field of physics have much to gain by bolstering participation from underrepresented groups. “But in my field in particular which is very international we can’t really succeeded if you don’t have diversity,” Morreale said.

Ariello Platero, a member of the Navajo Nation, and Julie Nelson, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, were picked for the program this year.

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