Communication from the Department of Physics

December 2020, Department Climate Survey results and discussion
Definition and Importance of Workplace Incivility

June 20, 2020, EIC ShutDownStem - Meeting Recap and Next Steps

Dear Harvard Physics Community,

As promised I am reaching out with a recap of last Wednesday’s Equity and Inclusion Committee (EIC) ShutDownSTEM Community Meeting (attached). Thank you again to everyone who was able to participate. We are delighted to have received so many suggestions for how we can create and maintain an environment conducive to success for all members of our community.

The attached document summarizes the suggestions made during the meeting and via the ZOOM chat thread. Thank you for your patience while we compiled the document. As you will see, we presented two ideas to Dean Stubbs following the meeting:

(i) mentoring of incoming students and urging faculty to be proactive in this direction, and
(ii) developing an academic enrichment program similar to the Math Department’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Next Steps:

And with apologies, due to a delay on my part, I am sending this belated notice for a communal albeit virtual observance of Juneteenth, Boston's 10th Annual Juneteenth Emancipation Observance 2020:

Thank you again for your enthusiasm and participation.

Subir Sachdev


June 12, 2020, EIC ShutDownSTEM - next steps

Dear Harvard Physics Community,

Thank you to all who were able to join Wednesday’s community discussion and reflections on the executive summary of the reading of The Time is Now Systemic Changes to Increase Bachelor’s Degrees in Physics and Astronomy and the state of our Department. Over 200 community members participated and offered many thoughtful observations and ideas. In follow-up discussions, I have learned that many of you came away from the meeting with varied reactions of greater concern, and enthusiasm for change.

Immediately following the meeting, I joined a meeting with Dean Stubbs and other department chairs, along with EIC Committee co-chairs John Huth and Lene Hau. At Dean Stubbs’ request, we highlighted two action items from Physics: (i) mentoring of incoming students and urging faculty to be proactive in this direction, and (ii) developing an academic enrichment program similar to the Math Department’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Our goals is to share with you this recap as early as Tuesday, June 16. A plan for the future will likely include establishing working groups that can focus on key priorities including advising and enrichment. We hope that we can count on your continued enthusiasm in making the Department of Physics a more welcoming and inclusive place to learn, research, teach, and work. In preparation for our next steps, a small group of staff are working on recapping the discussion, action items, and suggestions, both spoken and in the chat, for further action. These vital elements will guide our next steps.

Additionally, we plan on continuing this important discussion in our next Equity and Inclusion Committee meeting which is scheduled for Thursday, July 9 at 3:00PM. Please hold this time on your calendars.

Once again, allow me to thank all of you for your involvement and dedication. In the interim, if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please send an email to subject line: next steps.

Subir Sachdev

June 1, 2020, Physics Community Message

Dear Harvard Physics Community,

President Bacow and Dean Gay have written to you recently about the difficulties we face as a nation in the wake of the events in Minneapolis that precipitated protests in our cities. Already, the experience with Covid-19 laid bare inequities that stubbornly persist, and the most recent events are further reminders.

Related to our department, I would like to draw to your attention to three upcoming events this week:

  • Please add to your calendar a joint SEAS and Science Division Community Conversation about George Floyd tomorrow, Tuesday, June 2, at 4pm. ( click here to register for this event)
  • We welcome all to the Equity and Inclusion Committee meeting on Wednesday, June 2 at 11am, during which the EIC will discuss feedback on the Physics Department’s Statement of Values, and the APS IDEA program, among other topics. ( click here to join the meeting, the password is 714531)
  • We hope you will also join on Thursday, June 4, at 1pm, a discussion about cultural inequities in higher education with Prof. Anthony Jack based on his article “It’s Hard to Be Hungry on Spring Break”. Please use this link to register for this event.

Our Equity and Inclusion Fellow, Benita Wolff, is a valuable resource to the Department, and if you would like to talk to Benita, contact Hannah Miller at to schedule an appointment for you.

Given the challenges we are facing, I particularly appreciate the enthusiastic interest people expressed in serving on the Departments American Physical Society-IDEA team (IDEA=Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance). I’m happy to announce the following membership of the IDEA team.

APS Team/EIC Representatives 2020-2021:


  • John Huth, Faculty Chair, 27 years in the department
  • Lene Hau, 20 years in the department

General Administration

  • Anne Trubia, ex-officio, 10 years in the department
  • Benita Wolff, ex-officio, 7 months in the department (until October 2020)


  • Mary McCarthy, ex-officio, 8 years in the department
  • Liz Alcock, 3 years in the department
  • Erica Mantone, 1 year in the department

Postdocs/Research Scientists

  • Bill Nellis, 5 years in the department
  • Dilek Yildiz, 11 months in the department

Graduate Student Representatives

  • Jacob Barandes, ex officio, 10 years in the department
  • Madelyn Leembruggen, 2 years in the department
  • Justina Yang, 1 year in the department


  • David Morin, ex officio, 18 years in the department
  • Sambuddha Chattopadhya, 3 years in the department
  • Maya Burhanpurkar, 3 years in the department

Women in Physics Group

  • Taylor Contreras, 2 years in the department

Women of Color Project

  • TBD

You’ll learn more about the team in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, if you have questions please contact John Huth ( ) and/or Benita Wolff ( ).

In closing, allow me to once again stress the department’s commitment to make sure every member of our community feels valued and included.

Subir Sachdev