Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series: Susan Fullerton

Who: Susan Fullerton, University of Pittsburgh
Tuesday, February 7, 2017 - 11:00am to 12:00pm
O'Hara Student Center Ballroom

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Upcoming Talk: Tuesday, February 7 at 11:00 a.m.

Year of Diversity at PQI

The Year of Diversity at Pitt

Last April, Provost Patricia E. Beeson announced in her closing remarks at the Senate plenary session that the upcoming academic year will be the Year of Diversity at Pitt. “It’s going to be a year that we’re going to celebrate difference; a year when we’re going to engage in conversations about difference: about cultural difference, academic difference and political differences,” she said. The Office of the Provost has therefore offered opportunity and support to organize various events to celebrate diversity in academia. At the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute (PQI), we decided to celebrate Women in Quantum Science and Engineering: outstanding researchers dedicated to furthering different fields of physics, chemistry, and engineering, and who happen to be strong, brilliant, empowering women.

Women in Quantum Science and Engineering

Women you said? Yes, in the field of Quantum Science and Engineering—as in most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields, women are a resonating minority. Even at PQI, out of our seventy members, only ten faculty members are female, which accounts for a mere 14% of the membership. To overcome this gender imbalance, it is important to convince more women—as well as other underrepresented students—to pursue majors and careers in Quantum Science and Engineering. This may be achieved by giving the opportunity to established women scientists to share their experience with the local student community. The mission statement of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute is to help unify and promote Quantum Science and Engineering in Pittsburgh. Within the framework of the Year of Diversity, we therefore propose that the efforts to fulfill this mission be directed by and for the community of Women in Quantum Science and Engineering.

A Lecture Series

PQI is therefore organizing a Lecture Series, with four local speakers and PQI members from the Departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Chemical Engineering at Pitt, as well as from the Department of Materials Science at CMU. Four additional speakers have been carefully chosen for both their scientific achievements and their involvement in bridging the diversity gap in STEM. They will all give colloquium-style talks throughout the Spring semester of 2017. Spread the word, and encourage your peers or students to attend. Although we are celebrating diversity in gender, we encourage the participation of all minorities in our events! These events not only ties in the Year of Diversity, but also fulfills PQI’s mission statement by providing the opportunity to personally meet strong female role models, which may broaden the perceived perspectives in Quantum Science and Engineering.

Biography: Susan Fullerton

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh
Susan Fullerton is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Penn State in 2009 and joined the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Notre Dame as a Research Assistant Professor (2009 – 2015). At Pitt and Notre Dame, she has extended her Ph.D. work on polymer electrolytes for energy storage to include applications in nanoelectronics based on 2D crystals. During the spring of 2016, Fullerton was named an ORAU Ralph E. Powe Jr. Faculty Award winner. Dr. Fullerton serves as a faculty participant in Pitt’s Graduate Women in Engineering Network (GWEN), a newly recognized student organization whose mission is to retain women in STEM fields and to promote women in leadership. 


Navigating the work/life balance and using the imposter syndrome to help you excel in your career
One of my greatest fears during undergraduate and graduate school was “how will I ever be able to balance both having a family and having a PhD-level engineering job?”  I was worried that I would constantly feel guilty that I was doing one well to the detriment of the other.  It seemed to me that a “conservation of happiness rule” must apply: if I’m having too much fun in my personal life, then I must be performing lousy at work, and vice versa.  After the benefit of several years of hindsight, I can now declare that spending time worrying a priori about work/life balance is my biggest regret.  In addition to this worry, I have also dealt with the imposter syndrome for my entire career.  This is a feeling, often described by high achievers, of a persistent fear of being discovered as a “fraud” without any evidence of fraudulent activity!  I often attributed (and sometimes still do) career successes to “luck” or “favor” or “just being a harder worker than others and not particularly smart.”  This syndrome is very common and can be debilitating.  But I will argue that a healthy dose of the imposter syndrome, when embraced and placed in proper perspective, can be beneficial.  The first step is to understand the details of the imposter syndrome, the second is to admit that you have these feelings, and the third is to learn how to use them to your advantage. 

Women in Quantum Science and Engineering Lecture Series

All talks are held at 11:00 a.m. and are open to the public.
Susan Fullerton (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, February 7, O'Hara Student Center

Jeanie Lau (Ohio State University)
Tuesday, February 28, Allen Hall 321

Laura Greene (Florida State University)
Tuesday, March 7, Allen Hall 321

Noa Marom (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tuesday, March 21, Allen Hall 321

Nicole Benedek (Cornell University)
Wednesday, April 5, Benedum Hall 102

Anastassia Alexandrova (University of California Los Angeles)
Tuesday, April 11, Eberly Hall 307

Jill Millstone (University of Pittsburgh)
Tuesday, April 18, Eberly Hall 307