“Alice in Wonderland” is an outreach program within the Department of Physics at UT. You won’t meet the Mad Hatter or a March Hare… but it will be almost as unusual! If you are a high school female student interested in physics, but not sure whether you would like it as a career, then this program is for you.
About the Program
The Alice in Wonderland program is an outreach program of the Advanced Atomic Design Group at UT, led by Professor Alex Demkov.
The program is supported by the National Science Foundation (DMR-0606464). Its goal is to attract women to physics by getting high-school students involved in research over the summer before they make decisions about colleges. An Alice internship can cover the entire summer, but at the minimum should be at least one full month. Participants work in real research labs in the Departments of Physics or Chemical Engineering. In addition, a short course is offered at the start of the program in June. This informal course (no credit is given), given by UT graduate students, covers subjects from computer modeling and quantum mechanics to scanning tunneling microscopy and thin film growth.
The gender imbalance in physics is a pressing concern. Most people agree that there are a disproportionately low number of women, particularly at the senior faculty level. The importance of successful women scientists as role models for graduate students has been pointed out. However, it is possible that the remedies we implement at the college level may be too little, too late. The so-called “pipeline” starts well before college! In Texas, in the first year of high school the students take a general science course. The differentiation takes place the second year, when students may elect chemistry or physics as a separate course of study. This observation led to creation of the Alice in Wonderland Summer Program for Girls. This summer program is an important part in the entire research project.
The Alice program started in 2005. There have been many high school students, graduate students, and professors involved in it. All of them have enjoyed the program, which will hopefully encourage more students to join and take a tour in the world of science.