Students, faculty, and alumni at the 40th anniversary reunion of Women in Physics at Cornell .
Students, faculty, and alumni at the 40th anniversary reunion of Women in Physics at Cornell .
Students, faculty, and alumni at the 40th anniversary reunion of Women in Physics at Cornell.

Women in Physics and Related Fields

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Women in Physics and Related Fields (WiP+) is an informal group of women (primarily) supporting other women and gender minorities in the fields of Physics, Astronomy, Applied and Engineering Physics, Biophysics, and other related fields.  Everyone, ranging from prospective majors through faculty and staff, is invited to participate.  This is the current incarnation of the first women in physics group that was started here at Cornell in the fall of 1976.

Gallery     WiP+ in the News     Student Spotlights     Resources     Articles & More     History



WiP+ Coffee Hour: 

Every other Friday from 2:30-3:30pm in PSB 403.

3/22 (cancelled), 4/5 (cancelled, Spring Break), 4/19, 5/3, 5/17


4/29/24 with Physics Colloquium speaker Dr. Rachel Henderson at noon in PSB401. RSVP

Women Speakers

Apr 29
Monday 04:00 PM

Department of Physics Colloquium - Professor Rachel Henderson

Rockefeller Hall 201, Schwartz Auditorium

What do scientists look like?

WIP+ members

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Students, faculty, and staff gathered at a WiP+ lunch.

Berit Goodge standing in front of an electron microscope.

Berit Goodge

With the electron microscope while a member of the Kourkoutis Electron Microscopy Group.

Natasha Holmes standing in front of a graphic that asks "What should students be learning? What instructional approaches improve student learning? What are students learning? What variables are you going to change? How are you going to measure it?"

Natasha Holmes

Associate Professor of Physics

Natasha Holmes is a physicist who studies how people learn physics.

Robin Bjorkquist surrounded by equipment in a lab at SLAC.

Robin Bjorquist


Working at SLAC while a graduate student in the Cornell Physics Department. She is now an Assistant Teaching Professor at Seattle University.

Naomi Gendler working at Wilson Lab with a lot of computer screens in the background.

Naomi Gendler

Naomi Gendler working at her station in the Wilson Synchrotron Laboratory while a visiting continuing education student in physics and participant in the CLASSE Research Experience for Undergraduates program. She is now a postdoctoral fellow in the Physics Department at Harvard University.

Jenny Wurster operating a Van de Graaff generator with levitating aluminum pie plates.

Jenny Wurster

Staff Member in the Department of Physics demonstrates static electricity with a Van de Graaff generator at a outreach event at IC3 summer camp.

WiP+ in the news

Beyond Cornell

  • "New postage stamp honors trailblazing 'First Lady of Physics.'" NBC News. 2/11/2021

  • "She made the discovery, but a man got the Nobel. A half-century later, she’s won a $3 million prize." The Washington Post. 9/8/2018.

  • "Three major physics discoveries and counting." Quanta Magazine. 7/18/18.

  • "Dark Matter Pioneer, Rubin ’51, Dies at 88."  The Cornell Daily Sun. 12/28/16.

  • "The Bright Face Behind the Dark Side of Galaxies." Science. 2.8.02.

Meet Our Students

Zui Tao

Zui Tao: "Before I went to college I imagined I would finish my four years, get my degree, and go to work for a company. I didn’t think about going on to get a Ph.D. But then, as I learned more about physics, it became clear to me that I wanted to go deeper and learn more and do research." Read more here.

Brenna Mockler

Brenna Mockler: "I've enjoyed the chance to meet people with different perspectives and beliefs." Read more here.

Najva Akbari

Najva Akbari is on her way to becoming an optics expert who applies multi-photon microscopy to biological systems. Read more about her here.

Cari Cesarotti

Cari Cesarotti: "I am walking away from Cornell with a call to action to do my part in ending injustices."Read more here.


Department contacts: 

WiP+ Organizers

Equity advocates

  • Jenny Wurster (Physics)
  • SPS WiP Liaison (Emma Linscomb) and Diversity Liaison (Julian Turner)

Cornell University Resources:    

Women in Physics Statistics

Good Practices

Funding sources (grant/scholarship info)

Conferences/workshop opportunities


Articles & More




Did you know?

  • 1884 Kate Gleason is the first women admitted to study engineering at
    Kate Gleason
    Cornell in the Mechanical Arts program
  • In 1895, Carolyn Baldwin Morrison, was awarded the first Doctor of Science degree in the United States by Cornell University for her work in Physics.
  • ~1910 Frances G. Wick is the first women to earn a PhD in physics from Cornell.  She went on to teach physics at Vassar and several of her female students went on to do graduate work at Cornell.  During the 1918-1919 year she took a leave of absence of absence for war time emergency during which time she was an “Acting Assistant Professor” at Cornell.
  • 1944 Jane Faggen is the first women hired as a teaching assistant for the physics department.  She becomes part of a group of physics graduate students that “successfully persuaded the University to remove questions of race and religion from our application first – the first Ivy League institution to do so.
  • Susan Phelps was the first woman in the world to receive laboratory instruction in physics (here at Cornell).  She later went on to biology.  The Gage fund for “unspecified costs in advancing knowledge in physics” was created in her memory by her husband Simon Henry Gage and son Henry Phelps.
  • Martha Stahr Carpenter
    The first woman faculty member to be hired in College of Arts and Sciences was Martha Stahr Carpenter in 1947 as a radio astronomer in the Astronomy department. She later shifted into a research associate position when starting her family.
  • Vera Rubin
    1951 Vera Rubin earned her Master's degree in Astronomy from Cornell.  Famous for her work confirming the existence of dark matter, Vera was also the first woman to legally use the Palomar Observatory in 1965.
  • Millie (Spiewack) Dresselhous
    Millie (Spiewack) Dresselhous spends time as a postdoc at Cornell (1958-1960) before going on to become the first female tenured professor at MIT (1968) and the first president of the American Physical Society (1984). She was also the winner of many awards including National Medal of Science, the Oersted Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Enrico Fermi Award, and the Kavli Prize. In 2015, she became the first female to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor.  In 2017 she was featured in this GE add promoting women in STEM
  • Barbara Hope Cooper
    1983 Barbara Cooper, a former Cornell physics undergrad, was hired as the first women in a tenure track position in the physics department.
  • Ritchie Patterson
    Ritchie Patterson was the first women to serve a chair of the Physics Department from 2009-2011.
  • Lois Pollack
    2014 Lois Pollack begins her term as the first female director of Applied and Engineering Physics.