UC Los Angeles

Marginalized Identities
in Physics & Astronomy

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Our Mission

UCLA Marginalized Identities in Physics & Astronomy (UCLA MiPA) is dedicated to building a more inclusive, accessible, and equitable environment for our graduate students who identify with one or more marginalized groups, including but not limited to: women+; Black, Indigenous, & People of Color (BIPOC); LGBTQIA+ folks; neurodiverse and disabled people. We strive to provide an intersectional support network for these students who face systemic barriers to success in graduate school by building community, fostering camaraderie, and promoting allyship.



Women Percent Share of Physics Doctorate Recipients (NSF 2016)



African-American Women estimated total to have earned PhDs in Physics



Percent of LGBT Physicist feel pressure to stay closeted (APS 2016)



Percent Share with Disability of Total P&A Doctorate Recipients (NSF 2017)

Statement on Intersectionality

The framework of intersectionality was developed by leading legal scholar and UCLA professor of law, Kimberlé Crenshaw, to examine how the superposition of multiple marginalized identities interface and interact to form compounding inequities and disadvantages [1,2]. Intersectionality provides a lens to understand the overt and subtle discrimination faced by our intersectional communities and serves to reflect on the social systems of privilege and oppressions that limit their upward mobility. We believe intersectionality is a powerful tool to provide the level of support necessary for our marginalized and intersectional communities who are affected by the many forms of visible and non-visible oppression within the department.

1. We recognize that separately identifying women and minorities unintentionally renders certain marginalized populations invisible, in particular those whose identities are doubly bound by stereotypes (such as women+ of color) and those who lie outside the default definitions of the two terms (e.g. LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse, and disabled people) [3-5]. Moreover, women are generally not considered underrepresented minorities, which can be problematic for intersectional women who are often excluded from participation in physics and astronomy. Our change in name from WiPA to MIPA (as of July 2020) represents a shift in perspective and framework to prioritize an intersectional approach to addressing compounding inequities in a way we have not considered in the past.

2. Supporting women in the UCLA Physics and Astronomy department is incredibly important and we will continue to do so; however, as stated previously, we must acknowledge that there are other equally important marginalized identities in our department who also face systematic barriers to success. We've been listening and we want to make clear that Black Lives Matter and must acknowledge that decades of unabated anti-black racism in the sciences that has marginalized and impeded Black scientist community--in particular the advancement of Black women+. The BLM movement inspired us to recalibrate and restructure the support we provide to our marginalized communities, provide our BIPOC community a voice, and redefine the grad culture for our intersectional women; in doing so MIPA will continue the work that WiPA carried out in the past and will extend this work to include all marginalized identities and intersectionalities in the department.

3. The climate of STEM fields is increasingly unwelcoming to those who occupy more than one marginalized identity. Both research and individual experiences have shown that the more bound states occupied, the more one reported feelings of isolation, lack of peer and institutional support, and greater instances of discrimination and harassment within physics and astronomy [5,6]. An initial step in providing a more equitable and hospitable environment is the acknowledgment that we all have multiple intersecting identities that can help or hinder a career in physics and astronomy. It is therefore critical that we recognize how our social systems interact across intersecting identities and impede the opportunity for marginalized communities to participate within the field. We must contend with the fact that individually addressing marginalized identities continues to perpetuate another kind of marginalization [2,5-7].

Moving forward our best practices must remain mindful and inclusive, continuing to challenge sociocultural power structures and breaking down barriers between people towards a more equitable departmental environment.

The MIPA Committee

Join our Organization

  • Community Development
    strengthening our community through mentorship opportunities, mixers & happy hours, and social tea breaks
  • Professional Development
    providing resources and workshops towards navigating academia and applying to industry as a person of a marginalized identity
  • Equity & Empowerment
    fostering a more equitable environment through representation on various departmental committees
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News & Events

Music to vibe to as you wait for the latest sitch. Get in the flow. Speak Less Listen More.

MIPA Critical Mentorship and Academic Strategies for Success

The MIPA Critical Mentorship and Academic Strategies for Success (Critical MASS) Program aims to build a network of underrepresented and marginalized identity(ies) (URMI) graduate and undergraduate students to share experiences and advice on personal wellbeing, academic success, and professional development. If you are interested in joining the Critical MASS Program, please fill out the appropriate form.

  • Mentoring groups will consist of one graduate P&A student, 1-3 upper division undergraduates, and 5-8 lower division undergraduates.
  • We will be making pairs based on common identities, personality, and interests to the best of our ability.
  • Anyone is welcome, but our priority in making matches will be for students of marginalized identities.
  • We will be reviewing requests for new pairs at the start of each academic quarter and will notify you of your mentor/mentee match within two weeks thereof (excluding summer).

    Lower division (1-2 year) Undergraduate Students:

  • Receive advice on choosing courses, strategies for managing heavy workloads, etc. during monthly academic strategies for success group meetings led by upper division undergraduate student(s) and advised by a graduate student mentor.
  • Transition to one-on-one mentoring with a P&A graduate student once they become an upper division student.

  • Upper Division (3rd year or above) Undergraduate Students:

  • Receive one-on-one mentorship from a P&A graduate student a minimum of once per month.
  • Lead a monthly Academic Strategies for Success peer mentoring group for lower division students with advising provided by your graduate student mentor.
  • Participate in a yearly mentor/mentee training workshop.

  • Graduate/Postdoc Mentors:

  • Provide one-on-one mentorship to upper division undergraduate student(s) at least once per month.
  • Aid in and listen in on an Academic Strategies for Success peer mentorship group between their upper division mentee(s) and a group of lower division undergraduate students.
  • Participate in a yearly mentor/mentee training workshop.


Astronomy & Astrophysics Outlist

Openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other gender/sexual minority (LGBTQIA+) members of the astronomical community

AAAS Entry Point!

Program for students with apparent and non-apparent disabilities

Society for the Advancement of Chicano & Native American Students

Achieving true diversity in STEM by cultivating and celebrating a community where you can be your whole self.

Women in Physics

APS is committed to encouraging the recruitment, retention, and career development of women physicists at all levels.

National Society of Black Physicist

Promote the professional well-being of African American physicists and physics students within the international scientific community and within society at large

Sexual and Gender Minorities in Physics

Website for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning, asexual, pansexual, not-cisgender and not-straight (as well as friendly cis and straight) physicists

Meet the 20/21Y MIPA Council

Isabella Trierweiller (she/her/hers).

Isabella also serves as grad outreach co-coordinator on UCLA Astronomy Grad Council. She relishes a refreshingly sobber glass of ice cold lemonade with a lemon wedge on the rim for those hot LA days.

  • Academic Year: 3rd Year, Division of Astronomy
  • Research: Planet Atmospheres
  • Advisor: Hilke Schlichting & Ed Young
  • Hobbies: Knitting, Plants, D&D
  • Undergrad: Yale University, 2014-2018
  • Email: isabella.trierweiler@astro.ucla.edu

Jessica Pilgram (she/her/hers).

Jessica also serves as grad outreach co-coordinator on UCLA Physics Grad Council. She is a proud recipient of the 2020 NSF GRFP Fellowship and is happy to share more about her experience. Prefers a nice glass of whiskey. Neat.

  • Academic Year: 3rd Year, Division of Physics
  • Research: Experimental Plasma Physics
  • Advisor: Christoph Niemann
  • Hobbies: Dance, Climbing, D&D, Video Games
  • Undergrad: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 2013-2017
  • Email: jpilgram@g.ucla.edu

Jay Green (they/them/theirs).

Jay is also an organizer with UAW 2865 and a student in the APS Bridge Program at UCLA. They enjoy a nice, light and minty mojito for those warm summer nights with a good book in hand. Bartenders: respect the mojito.

  • Academic Year: 2nd Year, Division of Physics
  • Research: Experimental Condensed Matter
  • Advisors: Ni Ni
  • Hobbies: Plants, Hiking, Reading, Visiting neighborhood cats
  • Undergrad: CSU, San Marcos (2013-2017)
    UC, Santa Cruz (2017-2019)
  • Email: jcgreen19@physics.ucla.edu

Kristian Barajas (he/him/his).

Kristian also serves as P&A Diversity Committee Rep for the UCLA Physics Grad Council. He recently completed his final year of the APS Bridge Program at UCLA and is excited to begin his doctoral journey. Enjoys a Mezcal Margarita and getting caught in the (PNW) rain.

  • Academic Year: 3rd Year, Division of Physics
  • Research: Quantum Information Theory
  • Advisors: Alex Levine & Wes Campbell
  • Hobbies: Dungeon Master, CrossFit, Board Game Fanatic, Crappy Carpentry
  • Undergrad: Willamette University, 2012-2018
  • Email: kdbarajas@physics.ucla.edu

Dr. Stuart Brown (he/him/his).

Stuart is never one to turn down a pipping hot cup of dark liquid life. As a condensed matter experimentalist, he focuses on the phases and properties of quantum materials, especially correlated electron systems. The primary research tool of his laboratory is magnetic resonance under extreme conditions, including low temperatures, high magnetic fields, and other non-thermal tuning parameters such as high pressure/stress.

  • Position: Faculty, Division of Physics
  • Research: Experimental Condensed Matter
  • Email: sbrown@g.ucla.edu



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