About Us

We formed the Equity and Inclusion group in November 2017. We are comprised of graduate students, faculty and staff.

The group stemmed from the Physics and Astronomy Departmental review in October 2017. As the largest minority group (25%), women in the department were asked to share their experiences with the external review committee. When we came together we realized we shared similar challenges. Thus, we decided to create a support network among ourselves by developing an official forum/group for communication.

Cariad Knight, Coordinator
I’m a second year MSc student, my research focuses on NMR of biological tissues in the central nervous system.

Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee?

I joined the PHAS E&I committee in 2021 hoping to contribute to making positive changes in both the department and the broader UBC and scientific community. I strongly believe that all scientific and human pursuits benefit greatly from increased representation and accessibility. To this end systemic issues must be addressed on both macro and micro scales within society and STEM. Joining the PHAS E&I committee has allowed me to contribute to these efforts alongside like-minded individuals.

What does E&I mean to you?

To me E&I means that everyone is able and empowered to achieve their goals through addressing systemic barriers and inequities pervasive in STEM and society. Personally this has also meant advocating for institutional changes at UBC, educating myself on topics which do not directly impact me as a white woman of colonial descent, and challenging my own privilege and unconscious biases.

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?

Growing up in Vancouver I will always love spending time at the beach and in the trees. Spanish Banks and Ambleside beaches, and the Lynn Canyon and Pacific Spirit parks are my favorites!
I’m a first year PhD student in dark matter theory!


Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee? 
I find that the consideration of equity and inclusion is often overlooked or even ignored in natural sciences. Combatting this requires both individual-level and systemic changes. I was really excited to join the Committee because its work spans from the local level (journal clubs etc.) to the administrative level (discussion with faculty and staff etc.). 

What does E&I mean to you? 
To me, equity and inclusion means welcoming and treating everyone with love and respect regardless of who they are or what they do. I also believe that promoting equity and inclusion will really benefit everyone, even folks in majority groups! Warm and safe space will attract more and more bright minds from diverse groups, and diversity is where break-through ideas come about! 

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?

I love hopping from cafe to cafe for tasty pastries and coffee!! You will otherwise find me in hiking spots, museums, and sushi restaurants 🙂

Mercedes Thompson, General Member
Mercedes Thompson is a Montana native that has pursued her education in Boston, Massachusetts, Seattle, Washington, and happily adds Vancouver, BC to the list! In Boston she achieved an environmental science certificate from Bunkerhill Community college.


She worked in environmental labs at the University of Massachusetts Boston to study the carbon budget of the Neponset Marsh for a year before deciding to pursue a 4-year degree. Completing a double major in Astronomy and Physics at the University of Washington in Seattle was a major achievement for her, coming from a background where higher education was rare. There, she started her work in mental health advocacy and educational access for under privileged children working as a peer mentor and volunteering at a local church to feed the homeless.

In the year and a half after her graduation (and the beginning of the pandemic) she worked as a remote observer and assistant to the late Prof. George Wallerstein. Where she studied variable stars. As an undergraduate and beyond, her research had expanded from asteroids to stars to galaxies, which is where she found her passion.

As a graduate student at UBC she works to characterize the evolution of galaxies by observing distant galaxies, volunteers as a student wellness ambassador, a mentor, and E&I member.

Jonah Berean-Dutcher
I’m a first year PhD student studying string theory and quantum field theory.


Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee? 
The work this committee does is important because of the inequities that exist in the fields of physics and astronomy, and science more broadly. In order to achieve an inclusive working culture in our discipline, we need to make interventions. This is a component of that necessary work.

What does E&I mean to you? 
I think that the goals of the E&I committee, and thus of E&I work more broadly are most clearly framed around objectives of justice. We’re trying to create a more just department, culture in physics, and ultimately society. 

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?
I love cycling, and in particular the route out to Horseshoe Bay. The views are spectacular!

  Rana Zibakhsh
I’m a master’s student in the string theory group studying quantum field theories and holography. 


Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee? 
I attended a journal club organized by the committee last year and found it very instructive and enlightening. I became determined to join the team and help with similar events which aim to raise awareness and provide a safe ground for discussions around issues related to E&I.  

What does E&I mean to you? 
Creating a safe and warm environment where everyone feels welcome, making sure everyone’s voice is heard and providing more opportunities for marginalized and minority groups. 

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?

My favorite thing about Vancouver is the ocean. I love going for a swim even when it is cold outside! 

Yunting Wang
I’m a 2nd year master’s student in astronomy, studying the large-scale clustering of galaxies.


Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee? 
I’ve always wanted to be involved in E&I in the physics academia and facilitate an inclusive environment through hands-on practice with other great people in the E&I group.

What does E&I mean to you? 
To foster a positive cultural climate for all intersectionalities, so that everyone feels able to participate to their full potential and are valued for their contributions.

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?

I love biking along the seaside lane in summer and snowboarding in winter (beginner).

Jasmine Zhang
I’m a first year MSc student in experimental particle physics.


Why did you decide to join the E&I in PHAS Committee? 
I think the E&I in PHAS Committee is a great opportunity to make real, positive change in the department. I want to help build a safe and inclusive academic community where everyone is empowered to succeed! 

What does E&I mean to you? 
E&I means acknowledging systematic barriers that historically underrepresented groups in PHAS – and in academia in general – face and overcoming these challenges together. I am committed to staying open-minded and to keep learning about how best to support my peers while celebrating the diversity of viewpoints in the department. 

What’s something fun you like to do in Vancouver!?
Quarry Rock hike in Deep Cove is one of my favourites. Of course, I always have to stop by Honey’s Doughnuts when I’m in the area! 

Adele Ruosi, General Member
Adele Ruosi is the science education specialist in PHAS and she advises faculty instructors on pedagogical improvement, curriculum revisions, and assessment of teaching and learning effectiveness. She also develops strategies that enhance equity, diversity, and inclusion in teaching in collaboration with the Equity and Inclusion Office (EIO). As a foreigner she is particularly interested in fostering the appreciation and inclusion of other cultures, and as a woman in physics she is interested in encouraging woman and other underrepresented groups in this field. Adele is one of the two PHAS representative in the Faculty of Science EDI Community of Practice.
Kirsty Dickson, Operations Coordinator
Kirsty Dickson is the Communications Coordinator for UBC Physics & Astronomy. She oversees the department’s external communication (handling research stories, planning conferences and events, updating website content, and maintaining social media channels). She also manages the department’s K-12 outreach program.
Colin Gay, Faculty Advisor
Joss Ives, Faculty Advisor
Alison Lister, Faculty Advisor

Allison Man, Faculty Advisor
Jess McIver, Faculty Advisor
Janis McKenna, Faculty Advisor
Ingrid Stairs, Faculty Advisor

Our mission is to represent all underrepresented groups in Physics and Astronomy. We are aiming to provide resources and publicize other local/UBC events for underrepresented groups within our department in order to develop a sense of community and inclusion. One of our major goals is to create continuity of this group and foster a sense of change.

Meet the Team

Past and founding members

Click on the following to learn more about our past and founding members.

Miriam Cabero Müller, Coordinator (Oct. 2020 - Sept. 2021)

Member (2019 - 2021)

Miriam was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the department working on gravitational-wave astronomy with the LIGO and Virgo detectors. She did her PhD in Germany and moved to Vancouver in October 2019. She was also the Vice-President Operations for the UBC Postdoctoral Association during the 2020-21 term. In her free time, she likes reading, crafting, and spending time in nature.

Elham E Koda, Coordinator (Sept. 2019 - Sept. 2020)

Member (2018 - 2021)

Elham was a PhD student working in the ATLAS experiment of the Large Hadron Collider. He loves traveling and in his free time, he enjoys learning musical instruments and cooking.

Robin Hayes, Coordinator (Jan. 2019 - Aug. 2019)

Member (2017 - 2020)

Robin is a PhD student in experimental particle physics, focusing on measuring properties of the Higgs boson using data from the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. When not doing physics, she loves spending time outdoors and cooking.

Dominique Trischuk, Coordinator (Jan. 2019 - Aug. 2019)

Member (2017 - 2020)

Dominique is a PhD student in experimental particle physics working on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. In her spare time, she likes hiking, biking and skiing.

Vanessa Wiggerman, General Member (2017-2020)

Vanessa was a PhD student in physics with a research focus on magnetic resonance imaging in multiple sclerosis. She acted as president of the PHAS graduate student association from 2014-2016, working on building a continuing community within the department. In her free time, she dances in a Mexican Folkloric Dance Group and enjoys cooking and baking.

Jared Stang, Faculty Advisor

Jeff Bale, General Member

Javiera Parada, General Member (2017-2020)

Sébastien Rettie, General Member (2018 - 2019)

Sébastien Rettie was a PhD student working with the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), and he enjoys skiing and hiking in his spare time.

Emily Altiere, Coordinator (2017 - 2018)

Emily is a founding member of this group and was the first coordinator. She was a PhD student in the department of Physics and Astronomy working with the TUCAN Collaboration developing a UV laser system for xenon spectroscopy. In her spare time, she enjoys dancing, hiking and skiing.

Electra Eleftheriadou, Executive member (2017 - 2018)

Electra is a founding member of this group and was a research associate in the department of Physics and Astronomy.

The following founding members of E&I, were responsible not only for the creation of this group but also instrumental in establishing E&I within PHAS and UBC at large. They did this by creating, and embedding E&I into UBC's community through the hosting of workshops, lectures, and open houses that were open to all disciplines of science. In addition to this, they were instrumental in securing funding to ensure the continued operation of the organization.

Emily Altiere

Electra Eleftheriadou

Vanessa Wiggerman

Javiera Parada

Dominique Trischuk

Robin Hayes

Leesa Fleury

Theresa Liao

Prof. Ingrid Stairs

Prof. Janis McKenna

Prof. Alison Lister