NAME: Roshni Patil
EDUCATION: B.S. Physics ‘18, UCLA; Will be graduating with Masters degree in Physics from SBU in December 2020 and start the masters program in Electrical Engineering in Spring 2021.
Why did you want to be a part of GWiSE?
When I started graduate school, I noticed a significant drop in the number of women in my program compared to when I was an undergraduate student. Only around 20% of graduate students in physics are women, and the numbers drop higher up in the field. I want to be a part of GWiSE in order to gain a support system and be a part of a community in which issues faced by women in STEM, like gender biases, can be addressed. I also hope that I will be able to support other women in male-dominated fields as well as mentor younger students interested in a career in STEM.
What/who got you interested in your field?
As a young child, I was curious about space and enjoyed science. I had a simple telescope through which I could observe the nightsky and a book which explained what I saw and beyond. My mother inspired and encouraged me to pursue science as it was a field not many people chose to go into, especially in India, and I had a genuine passion for it. I enjoy working with my hands and as my interest in building machines and instruments that facilitate scientific research grew, I chose to become an experimental physicist.
When did you know you were interested in pursuing a degree in science/engineering?
I knew I wanted to pursue STEM when I was five and dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Over the course of the years, my interests developed and I chose to major in physics in college.
What do you think needs to happen for there to be more women in science/engineering?
I believe that there are many things that need to happen for there to be more women in STEM. One of them is exposing young girls to science in a way that encourages them to pursue STEM without viewing the field as “masculine” or “for boys”. Often times, science/engineering is believed to be a male interest and when young girls are exposed to these views, they get discouraged from pursuing a STEM field as they feel unwelcome. In addition, better support and options for women with families might keep them in the field.
Name one achievement/award/moment that you are proud of and why:
One achievement I am proud of is giving one of the speeches at my college commencement. I was a very shy and timid teenager and experienced a major growth in my confidence during my college years as I volunteered at various events and interacted with peers and professors in classes and research labs. Freshman year me would never have imagined volunteering to speak at commencement as a senior.
Favorite way to spend a free day:
I love traveling and exploring new places, whether it’s the area I am living in or farther away. Now that I live in new York, visiting NYC is one of my favorite things to do if I have the time because there are many interesting ways to spend time there, whether it is checking out a boardgame café or cycling around Central Park.
Best sunrise seen to date:
One of the best sunrises I have seen was at Yellowstone National Park during the solar eclipse in August 2017, because it felt like we had two sunrises in only a couple of hours. As the sun rose at around 7AM, the birds chirped, animals started making noises, and the Grand Teton mountains were beautifully lit by the sun’s warm morning rays. However, when the eclipse began, all of this was reversed and totality brought silence among all living creatures with a night-like sky and what appeared to be a 360 degrees sunrise/sunset. As the moon moved away from the sun, the mountains were lit again by the sun, giving the illusion of a second sunrise.
What is your most treasured memory?
One of my most treasured memories was organizing one of the American Physical Society Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (APS CUWiP) that was hosted at UCLA in January 2017. The conference brought together around 250 undergraduate students from Southern California and neighboring states for a weekend of talks, workshops, and networking opportunities.