Rachele Dominguez

Randolph-Macon College Physics Department

Isabelle Stone: breaking the glass ceiling with thin films and teaching

The APS Forum on the History of Physics held as essay contest for students.  The runner up was Melia E. Bonomo, a graduate student from Rice, who wrote an interesting article about the first woman to receive a Physics PhD in the US!  Read her article here.

R-MC Establishes New Major in Engineering

engineering professor and student

Randolph-Macon College President Robert R. Lindgren is pleased to announce that the faculty has approved a new major in Engineering.  The Engineering program is pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.  Read about it here.


Welcome back!

A scenic first day of classes measuring human reaction times.

Year Three of Pathways to Science

We just finished our third year of the Pathways to Science camp (Caminos a La Ciencia).  Tim Kaine came out for the camp kick-off (I couldn’t make it to that event, but I heard he had excellent Spanish and stayed late to meet every one of the campers and their families.)  Read about that on the R-MC website and in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  You can also view the R-MC photo album for this event here.  I can say that I think this event has gotten better every year, with the addition of new cohorts of girls who can share their past experiences.  Kudos to Dr. April Marchetti (who is, in fact, a CHEMISTRY professor, not a Spanish professor, and the Richmond Times claimed)  and Molly Smith for running such a smooth program!

New webstory on my SURF student, Jacob Owens

Read the story here.

Jacob Owens presents research at March Meeting 2019 in Boston, MA

R-MC Senior Physics major, Jacob Owens, attended the American Physical Society’s March Meeting with me in Boston, MA.  This is an event where 11,000 physicists descend upon an unknowing city.  (Well, maybe they knew.)   Jacob gave an oral presentation on titled “Periodicity and Quasiperiodicity in Simple Earthquake Models,” which described the work he did as part of the 2018 Schapero Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.  His abstract can be read here.

I also gave a talk on the work I did at Los Alamos National Lab.  Here is my abstract.

(Image: exposing Jacob to Dim Sum and Physicists.)

Resources to recruit STEM teachers

Get the Facts Out is an NSF funded project that helps dispel myths that may discourage students from pursuing STEM teaching careers.  They found 3 prevalent myths about teaching:

Myth #1: Teaching pays less: Most people underestimate teaching salaries by $10-30K.

Myth #2: Teachers can never retire: Most teaching jobs have better retirement benefits that private industry.

Myth #3: Teachers are unhappy: Teachers report having higher job satisfaction than other STEM professionals.

In fact, out of 14 occupations surveyed, teachers score 2nd highest on the Well-Being Index, beat out only by Physicians.  (They scored low on workplace environment satisfaction, though.)  Check out the Gallup Poll Report: Teachers Love Their Lives, But Struggle in the Workplace.


New AIP Report on Women In Physics out now

Here is a link to the full report just released:


I am not sure how it is in other disciplines, but in Physics we have such a  FANTASTIC resource in the Statistical Research Center of the AIP.  If you need data that is not published on the website, you can email them and they are very helpful.

One of the graphs I’ve been watching for many many years is the number of women graduating with a Bachelors in Physics:

Physics, Engineering, and Computer Science have been clumped at the bottom for some time now.

Here is the graph for women graduating with PhDs:

I’m on sabbatical! And a visit to the Trinity test site.

I spent the fall semester of my sabbatical working at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico on developing a model for a sheared granular fault gauge system.  Here is just a quick nerd tourist pic I got to take while living out west.  The Trinity test site is only opened up to the public twice a year, since it sits in an active missile range, and all activity must be shut down.  (They only open on the first Saturdays of April and October.)  There were a handful of protesters (“Downwinders”) demonstrating just outside the entrance, and a HUGE number of visitors.  There isn’t much there, but it’s easy to find lots of trinitite on the ground, which signs will tell you IS ILLEGAL to keep.

Pro tip: do not just drive to Alamogordo thinking you’ll get to see the test site.  Check out the map on the link below.  This is the west and distances are VAST!

Here’s info:



Physics Jeopardy

You can find my new version of Physics Jeopardy up at the SPS webpage, along with other versions from different contributors:  https://www.spsnational.org/programs/outreach/physics-jeopardy

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