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Town Hall Seattle: Science Series

Town Hall’s Science series is dedicated to understanding the world around us. Whether we’re hearing from a legendary physicist or a UW graduate student, the Science series explores math, biology, chemistry, the environment, and so much more.

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Apr 27, 2021

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is one of the leading physicists of her generation. She is also one of fewer than 100 Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions.

The star theoretical physicist joined us in conversation with STEM educator and PhD student Jaleesa Trapp to take us on a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos–and present a call for a more just practice of science. Sharing from her book The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime, & Dreams Deferred, Dr. Prescod-Weinstein introduced us to her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of Dark Matter–all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek. While love of Star Trek is universal, Prescod-Weinstein and Trapp brought physics into the personal realm, seriously urging us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. Join Dr. Prescod-Weinstein as she layed out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky, dreaming into existence a world that allows everyone to experience and understand the wonders of the universe.

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy and core faculty in women’s and gender studies at the University of New Hampshire. She is also a columnist for New Scientist and Physics World. Her research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neuron stars, and dark matter. She also does research in Black feminist science, techonlogy, and sociology studies.

Jaleesa Trapp is an educator, community organizer, and researcher from Tacoma, WA. She is currently a second year PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, where her current research focus is exploring the different ways Black youth interact with computers and technology, in an effort to design playful technologies with and for them. She is also an educator at the school of Industrial Design Engineering and Art and a community organizer with Tacoma Action Collective.

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