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Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Achieving Perimeter’s mission requires the Institute to create a culture of curiosity, collaboration, and innovation; EDI is integral to creating and sustaining this culture. Perimeter’s broad range of EDI initiatives over the past decade have unquestionably enhanced the Institute’s culture and success.

However, people from historically excluded groups, including women, racialized people, and people with disabilities, continue to face barriers to success in their physics education and career, both at Perimeter and in the broader physics community.

At Perimeter, our goal is not only to shift the culture within the Institute but to ensure that Perimeter students, postdocs, and researchers build competencies related to EDI, which they will take with them to STEM communities across Canada and around the world. The progress Perimeter has made in this effort was assessed this year by the SAC in their report to the Perimeter Board of Directors.

Scientific Advisory Committee Highlight: Progress On Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

In its review, the SAC was asked to review Perimeter’s efforts in areas related to EDI, with a focus on developments in the last three years (since the last SAC review in 2020). The SAC report, presented to the Perimeter Board of Directors, commended Perimeter for progress in its EDI efforts. Some highlights from the SAC report are presented here:

“We note PI’s exemplary family-friendly policies. From the beginning, visitors have been able to bring their families and find welcome, programming, and accommodation for children and partners.”

“Perimeter Institute’s PSI program […] currently has as many women as men, which is unique and commendable. PSI supports its graduates carrying on into PhD positions, which is creating a pipeline of well-trained, diverse young theoretical physicists whose positive effect on the diversity of theoretical physicists extends far beyond PI.”

“Perimeter’s Emmy Noether Fellows program is a flagship initiative known across the world. It sets the gold standard for supporting outstanding female researchers at a crucial stage of their careers when, very often, family responsibilities coincide with the demands of the crucial tenure track years.”

“We recognize the production of the EDI Strategic Plan3 required a substantial effort and resources, especially from the Director and the EDI Strategy Project Team. We commend their efforts. We endorse the overarching goals of the Strategic Plan.”

The following highlights from EDI programs at Perimeter are not a comprehensive list; Perimeter intentionally integrates best practices and policies, guided by our Strategic Plan for EDI, into all research, training, and outreach programs, examples of which can be found throughout this report.

Inclusive PI Platform

The Inclusive PI Platform, founded in 2018, continues to be a central hub of activity for Perimeter’s community-led EDI efforts. Membership in Platform working groups is open to all members of the Perimeter community – including faculty, postdocs, students, and administrative staff. Approximately 23 percent of the Perimeter community takes part in activities in one or more of the Platform working groups. Residents are welcomed and encouraged to create new groups around topics of interest.

This year, 70 members in nine working groups – Accessibility, Anti-Racism, Climate Change, LGBTQ2A+, Mental Health, Parental Policies, Quantum Ethics, Respectful Environment, and Women in Physics –advanced initiatives and ideas across a wide range of topics.

Some highlights from this past year are given below:

The Mental Health Working Group displayed graphics on building announcement boards, rotating throughout the month of May, to debunk mental health myths and raise awareness of how mental health impacts different groups of people.

The Women in Physics Working Group hosted a panel about parenting as part of the Global Day of Parents, as well as a panel about family planning.

The Climate Change Working Group created a climate action proposal for Perimeter, which is now being reviewed by senior leadership.

Supporting Mental Health at Perimeter

Since 2021, Perimeter has maintained an in-house therapy program, available to all residents at no charge to remove barriers to access. The initiative was born from recommendations made by the Mental Health Working Group during the challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group’s recommendations led to a new model for mental health at Perimeter, bringing independent third-party therapists and counsellors into the building to work one-on-one and in groups with residents. Services are, of course, confidential. In-house therapists use aggregate data to assist Perimeter in addressing any common mental health challenges identified and improving related policies within the Institute.

In-house therapy and mental health services at Perimeter are widely used by residents from all areas and career stages.

Activities at Perimeter Toward Truth and Reconciliation

As part of Perimeter activities around the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Perimeter hosted a colloquium by Hilding Neilson, an Indigenous physicist and faculty member at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In his colloquium, Neilson discussed the ongoing colonization of astronomy research and space exploration.

Neilson also gave a research seminar at Perimeter.
In 2022/23, all Perimeter residents completed Indigenous awareness training. Training is now mandatory for all new residents.

Perimeter hosted a land acknowledgement workshop to provide residents with tools for land and territory acknowledgement.

Emmy Noether Initiatives

Perimeter’s programs to attract and retain more women in science are collectively referred to as the Emmy Noether Initiatives, named after pioneering German mathematician Emmy Noether, whose work underpins much of modern physics. The Emmy Noether Initiatives aim to empower and support women and girls to enter, and succeed in, physics.

The initiatives include outreach to high school students through the “Inspiring Future Women in Science” event, support of graduate students through the Emerging Talent Fund, and career development opportunities for women researchers. The initiatives are supported, in part, through the generosity of the Emmy Noether Council and donors in the Emmy Noether Circle.

Simons Emmy Noether Fellows Program

Supported by the Simons Foundation, this program gives exceptional early- and mid-career women physicists, at a critical stage in their faculty careers, undivided time to pursue their ambitious research. Fellows spend up to a year at Perimeter, focused on their research, while on leave from their home institutions. They are encouraged to take full advantage of Perimeter’s vibrant, family-friendly environment as well as to share their work and forge new collaborations.

Each fellow receives individually tailored supports designed to reduce the barriers that many women face; these supports can include travel expenses, housing, childcare, and partial support to bring spouses or partners. The fellows also receive support to bring graduate students and/or postdoctoral researchers, as well as administrative and logistical support. Many Simons Emmy Noether Fellows return in subsequent years, continuing to build ties to Perimeter and the wider scientific community. Hence, the program has lasting impact for past fellows.

Expanding the Emmy Noether Fellows Program

Perimeter has been awarded significant additional funding from the Simons Foundation in 2022/23 to expand the Emmy Noether Fellows program. The newly expanded program will offer new visiting opportunities for postdoctoral fellows and encourage return visits to continue ongoing collaborations. The program also supports lecture series and conferences such as the “Women at the Intersection of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics” series.

PI People

Simons Emmy Noether Fellow

Malena Tejeda-Yeomans

Simons Emmy Noether Fellow Malena Tejeda-Yeomans, a physicist at Universidad de Colima, Mexico, came to Perimeter with her graduate students to collaborate with Perimeter Research Faculty member Freddy Cachazo and his team. They worked on refining the mathematical tools used to study the quark-gluon plasma, which filled the universe in the first few microseconds after the big bang. Understanding the nature of this quark-gluon plasma could help us refine the Standard Model of particle physics – the theory that describes all the fundamental particles and forces in nature (except gravity) and helps us explain why matter itself looks and acts as it does. Tejeda-Yeomans’s research investigates interactions among elementary particles for applications in various experiments. She was one of several researchers to visit Perimeter under the Simons Emmy Noether Fellows in the 2022/23 fiscal year.

The program has propelled me,
has given me renewed strength to tackle new
calculations and to network with new people
that have new ideas.

Malena Tejeda-Yeomans, Simons Emmy Noether Fellow

2022/23 Simons Emmy Noether Fellows

Seven researchers were newly appointed in 2022/23, with visits scheduled in the coming fiscal year:

Angela Capel, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Zohreh Davoudi, University of Maryland, College Park

Laura Donnay, Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA)

Marina Krstic Marinkovic, ETH Zurich

Ferah Munshi, George Mason University

Sedighe Sajadian, Isfahan University of Technology

Cora Uhlemann, Newcastle University

2022/23 Simons Emmy Noether Visiting Postdoctoral Fellows

Four inaugural postdoctoral fellows were named in 2022/23. Several of the researchers have already made program-supported visits to Perimeter, and more visits are planned for the coming fiscal year.

Claudia Cornella, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Flaminia Giacomini, ETH Zurich

Anna Golubeva, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Ana-Maria Raclariu, University of Amsterdam

Emmy Noether Felllows Ferah Munshi and Angela Capel Cuevas

Today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology

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