2022 GAINS Conference Wrap-Up

The three-day-long virtual GAINS conference took place this April (4/7/22 and 4/8/22)

Editors’ Note: The website can only display one author, which happens to be Mika Higgins. The wrap-up was contributed to by both Mika Higgins and Amelia How.

The eighth annual Girls Advancing in STEM (GAINS) conference, hosted by Yale University and Greenwich Academy, was held on April 7th and 8th. Though held virtually, this conference enabled participants to still attend a myriad of  events including a keynote address from Dr. Sarah Demers, a physics professor at Yale University who studies particle physics at CERN, a presentation and coding workshop by Imagilabs, and a chocolate tasting session. 

In her keynote address, Dr. Demers explained her research at the ATLAS collaboration at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. The LHC is the world’s biggest and most advanced particle accelerator and an impressive collaboration between thousands of global physicians, engineers, coders, and other diverse positions; in Geneva, Dr. Demers works closely with the LHC to advance our understanding of particle physics, or the interactions of the most basic materials that constitute the matter around us. Throughout her presentation she discussed her interesting, windy path to discovering her love of physics, and attaining her position as a professor of physics at Yale University.

Next, students attended the coding workshop run by imagiLabs, a female-owned company that promotes coding for young girls. Both of the founders discussed their journey towards science and entrepreneurship and led coding lessons using the imagiLabs product and technology. 

Following these major presentations, students were split into smaller groups for “STEM Tours.” Through these tours, they virtually visited physics laboratories at Yale focused on topics including neutrinos, jellyfish, epidemiology, and radioactive isotopes. Although some STEM tours were led by the professors who managed the labs, others were run by graduate students who worked on projects within the labs. These tours helped students to learn about the daily lives of actual scientists; contrary to our preconceived impressions, their days looked a lot like analyzing big amounts of data next to ginormous, noisy instruments.  

The next day, the conference hosted “Tech Talks” in which students were able to watch presentations and interact with researchers. Students were given the opportunity to select talks about areas that piqued their interests. Some tech talks centered around quantum computing, dark matter, helicopters, algorithm design, and natural history conservation. 

A career mixer at the end of the program allowed students to connect with mostly female scientists and learn more about their journeys in STEM. The conference showcased a wide variety of fields, including systems engineering, biophysics, math, and biology. 

The program offered young women in STEM to connect with like-minded peers and expand their knowledge of current topics in physics, engineering, and beyond. They connected with and learned from professionals in the field, hopefully inspiring the next generation of female scientists  to pursue a career in STEM.