Five MIT researchers receive awards from the American Physical Society

Five MIT researchers receive awards from the American Physical Society

Awardees include Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

From MIT News, 4 November 2020

The American Physical Society (APS) recognizes outstanding scholars in physics. Recently, MIT affiliates William A. Barletta, Ronald Fernando Garcia Ruiz, Katelin Schutz, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, and Phiala Shanahan earned APS prizes for their work.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Prescod-Weinstein, a research affiliate at MIT’s Program in Science, Technology, and Society and a recent Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. postdoc at MIT, received the 2021 Edward A. Bouchet Award for contributions to theoretical cosmology and particle physics and for her efforts in promoting inclusivity in physics.

Prescod-Weinstein held an MLK Fellowship at MIT between 2011 and 2016, where she was mentored by professors Edmund Bertschinger and Alan Guth, and also worked with Professor David Kaiser. During her time at MIT, Prescod-Weinstein was jointly appointed to the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, as well as the Department of Physics as a researcher at the Center for Theoretical Physics. Her theoretical work examines particle physics, cosmology, and astrophysics. In particular, much of her research concerns the possible role of axions, a hypothetical elementary particle, in dark matter. Dark matter refers to the matter that is believed to comprise about 80 percent of the universe, yet is not directly observable to scientists. Her research inquires if the axion can form a Bose-Einstein condensate, which would enable many axions to act together and form one larger particle. Addressing this question could reveal much about how galaxies and other structures were formed. While at MIT, she mentored Black, Latinx, and Native students, and was awarded the School of Science Infinite Kilometer Award for her contributions.

MIT physics professors Guth and Tracy Slatyer nominated Prescod-Weinstein for the Bouchet Award, which is offered to a distinguished minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research and the advancement of underrepresented minority scientists. Prescod-Weinstein was selected as this year’s recipient both for her extraordinary contributions to theoretical cosmology and particle physics, and her immense efforts in increasing inclusivity in physics, including co-creating Particles for Justice. Particles for Justice is a group of individuals working to combat racism, misogyny/sexism, ableism, transphobia, queerphobia, xenophobia, anti-Indigeneity, and other biases within the field of physics.

Prescod-Weinstein now serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and a core faculty member in the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She earned her PhD at the University of Waterloo and Perimeter Institute in 2011. She previously earned a master’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and a bachelors in physics and astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard College. Prescod-Weinstein’s book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, will be available in March 2021.