APS Bridge Program

Research Program

Julie Posselt
Assistant Professor of Education, University of Southern California (Co-PI)

Theresa Hernandez
Graduate Research Assistant, University of Southern California

Casey Miller
Associate Professor and Director of the Materials Science and Engineering, Rochester Institute of Technology (Co-PI)

Theodore Hodapp
APS Director of Project Development and Senior Advisor to the Department of Education and Diversity, APS (Co-PI)

Research Initiatives

The project engages in targeted research to support the development of a robust and effective national network for inclusive graduate education. To answer the research questions in this pilot project (below), we are collecting and analyzing a combination of quantitative and qualitative data at the individual (i.e., student and faculty) and program/department levels. To disseminate the findings, we are publishing peer-reviewed papers, a book, as well as shorter practitioner-focused essays and reports highlighting the major findings. These publications will significantly add to the literature on diversity in STEM graduate education. Focus areas of our research are listed below:

Focus area 1: Loss points through the admissions process in partner programs
A clear picture of where losses for Black, Latinx, Native American students and women occur in physics graduate education (i.e. gathering information on applications, admissions, enrollment, and retention by year) will ensure that the national network’s efforts and resources are appropriately invested. More detailed data is needed about student pathways through the admissions process, including descriptive and multivariate analyses of the factors that affect student outcomes at the multiple stages of the admissions process.

Focus area 2: Ph.D. completion in large doctoral programs
The relatively small number of partner programs in our pilot will result in small sample sizes for some key student characteristics (especially Latinx, African American, and Native American identities), creating a risk of Type 2 errors (i.e., concluding a relationship does not exist where one, in fact, does). To address this risk, our research plan also builds on current APS efforts to gather a dataset from a much larger number of physics graduate programs. These questions will focus on retention and degree completion, in support of project Objective 3.

Focus area 3: Impact of participation in a national network
This project seeks change at multiple levels: individual faculty members’ values and perceptions, specific departmental practices, and measurable outcomes. Distinct from evaluation questions of project efficacy, we want to understand the mechanisms by which network participation effects change (or does not) in faculty mindsets, departmental practices and, by extension, the outcomes those practices produce.

This project widens the lens of focus area 3, for a study in search of connections among who makes up the full IGEN project team; their understandings of diversity, inclusion, equity, and institutional change; and the development and adoption of solutions in IGEN. This study expands the examination of network impact to consider how project members’ individual and collective ideas about diversity, inclusion, and equity influence the network’s proposed solutions, especially as they might be pursued in an INCLUDES alliance.