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Conference Prepares Students for Next Step

April 6, 2020
CUWiP Logo

Several students have a greater understanding of their post-graduate opportunities in the field of physics after attending a conference in Pullman, Washington earlier this year as part of The College of Idaho’s commitment to high-impact practices. The students attended the annual Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) at Washington State University, and learned about career options and networking.

“The CUWiP conference was a great opportunity to find out more about the physics world after undergraduate studies,” said sophomore Anupa Poudyal, a computer science major. “I wanted to learn more about its implications and the path I can follow, so I decided to go to the conference.”

The seven College of Idaho undergrads who attended the CUWiP conference in January sat in on presentations from multiple speakers. Among the speakers the students heard from was Anita Sengupta. Sengupta worked for NASA a total of 16 years, focusing her career on aerospace engineering and working as a rocket scientist and pilot.

“I’m a mathematics-physics major and attending conferences like CUWiP is an amazing opportunity for me to learn more about potential careers paths and networking.” said sophomore Makenzie Stapley said, “I learned a lot about some cutting-edge discoveries being made in several subfields of physics, but what I really took away from this conference is what I learned about issues minorities (like women) face in the field.”

The other five students to attend the conference were senior Heidi Waterman (mathematics-physics) along with sophomores Marianela Arias Hidalgo (mathematics-physics), Nohelia Maria Arias Hidalgo (mathematics-physics), Aspram Kharatyan (mathematics), and Sumit Acharya (computer science).

Conference attendees were also given opportunities to present a posters showing their best work in the field of physics via a physical or digital poster.

“I learned about many aspects of physics from amazing women working in the world of physics.” Poudyal said of the experience. “It was insightful to see what the opportunities are available in the field as well as what the steps to becoming a physics graduate are. There were many workshops about dealing with college, applying to graduate school, and managing time for it.”

In addition to those workshops, the CUWiP attendees went to sessions covering different fields in academic physics, professional developmental skills, and equality/inclusivity.

Another fun part of the conference was the Physics Slam!, where four physicists from Washington State’s Department of Physics and Astronomy covered a topic in a 10 minute high-energy manner.

“The best part of the experience was the people. I met so many awesome people from a huge variety of backgrounds.” said Stapley. “Talking to people my age with similar interests was a lot of fun, and the laughter we shared will always be one of my favorite memories.”

The event focused on the future opportunities of undergraduate women in the physics world. For Poudyal, the conference’s intent was successful.

“The best part of the experience was that I was so inspired by the women who were both students and teachers, who were good and successful at what they were doing,” Poudyal said. “It inspired me to go into graduate school and work hard.”

The College of Idaho has a 129-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit

Story submitted by Jordi Stuart, Marketing & Communications student intern