Theorists at Undergraduate Institutions

Coordinators: Robert Hilborn, Arjendu Pattanayak, Donald Spector

There are increasing numbers of theoretical physicists at primarily undergraduate institutions. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the theory community; either way, it is a phenomenon unfamiliar to most theoretical physicists and undergraduate institutions themselves. New faculty do not have many models for integrating research careers into professional lives at such institutions, nor can they easily turn to others for guidance, since the number of theorists at such institutions tends to be small. At the same time, since graduate students disproportionately come from such schools, effective theory research at undergraduate institutions, especially with the potential for student involvement, is vital to the long-term health of physics. As such, it is vital to identify and develop ways of supporting such faculty, beginning by connecting theorists at different undergraduate institutions, and looking for possible structural changes.

This workshop constitutes a step towards developing such an active community of theoretical physicists at primarily undergraduate institutions. During the workshop, we will search for ways to improve support for theoretical physics within our institutions as well as within the larger research community. We will have junior faculty discussing early career issues, and senior faculty providing a longer-term perspective. We will consider successful examples in our own field as well as other fields, and will brainstorm on solutions. We will also talk about our research: both our own work and the student research we supervise. Most importantly, we will identify future goals to help sustain theoretical physics at primarily undergraduate institutions and map a plan of action to move towards those goals.

Organizing Committee/Further Information: Arjendu K. Pattanayak(Carleton College),, Donald Spector(Hobart & William Smith Colleges),, Martin Ligare(Bucknell University),, Robert C. Hilborn(Amherst College),