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DOE awards FIU grant to help diversify physics
FIU alumna Ariana Bueno who double majored in physics and mechanical engineering.

DOE awards FIU grant to help diversify physics

July 19, 2021 at 3:58pm

FIU will expand on existing efforts to broaden and diversify the field of nuclear physics with a $205,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The Research Traineeships to Broaden and Diversify Nuclear Physics grant will provide paid internships to underrepresented minority undergraduate students at FIU. Selected students will work closely with the university’s nuclear physics group, receiving mentorship, training support in both experimental and theoretical nuclear physics and hands-on research experiences. They will also have the opportunity to attend conferences, as well as participate in summer programs at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, where researchers study the most basic building blocks of matter.  

“The really wonderful thing about this grant is it supplements what we’re doing already in our own group at FIU — but with the added benefit of paying the students,” Wim Cosyn, FIU assistant professor of physics and principal investigator of the grant, said. “Many of our students are already working parttime jobs. This will let us pay them to go to school and go after knowledge.”

FIU is one of the largest and most diverse universities in the U.S., with nearly 65 percent of students identifying as Hispanic and 12 percent as Black or African American. FIU’s Physics Department mirrors these demographics. There are more than 170 undergraduates — 63 percent are Hispanic, 11 percent are Black and 28 percent are women. The department is also a part of the American Physical Society Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA) and the American Institute of Physics National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP).

FIU has long championed the inclusion of underrepresented groups in STEM. In 2020, INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine recognized the FIU STEM Transformation Institute with a 2020 Inspiring Program in STEM Award for encouraging students from underrepresented groups to pursue STEM careers. Physics Professor Zahra Hazari also co-founded STEP-UP, a partnership with the American Physical Society to increase the number of women pursuing physics degrees in the U.S.

As a part of the grant, there will also be a program evaluation. FIU Associate Professor of Psychology Dionne Stephens will conduct interviews with the students before and after their internships. The feedback will help identify effective mentoring strategies and how to best meet the needs of the students and foster a sense of belonging at FIU.

The FIU nuclear physics group focuses its research on intermediate energy nuclear physics, specifically the programs at Jefferson Lab and the future electron-ion collider at Brookhaven National Lab.

For more information on how to apply to be a part of the program, please contact Wim Cosyn at