Carleton Prof. Rowan Thomson has been named Assistant Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) for a three-year term. In this role, Thomson will build on the Faculty of Science’s existing work in creating a diverse and inclusive environment for our students, faculty and staff.

Thomson, a professor at Carleton University’s Laboratory for Radiotherapy Physics and the Medical Physics Group and Canada Research Chair in Radiotherapy Physics, has been doing research to improve cancer radiation treatments since 2007. Before joining the faculty at Carleton in 2010, she studied Superstring Theory at the Perimeter Institute and the University of Waterloo. Earlier this year, Thomson was elected a Fellow of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine.

“There is growing awareness of the inequities in academia and society, and I am thrilled to work with Carleton colleagues and students to increase momentum on initiatives to make Science more inclusive,” says Thomson.

Prof. Rowan Thomson outdoors on a sunny day

Prof. Rowan Thomson, Assistant Dean (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion)

“It’s important to reduce barriers for women and diverse peoples in the sciences, to start a dialogue about the obstacles they’ve faced, and to confront any remaining hurdles,” says Chuck Macdonald, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “I’m pleased that Prof. Thomson will lead the way in making the Faculty of Science a more inclusive place to study, conduct research and work.”

Thomson has long been a proponent of improving awareness about women in physics.

“In my first year of teaching, I had a second-year class with 50 students and there were three women,” she says. “The next class I taught had fewer students, but there were no women.”

Thomson is already busy in her new role, hosting Turning the Tide for Women in Science: Untold Stories and Ideas for Change, an event in March 2020 celebrating International Women’s Day. The event included a panel of women scientists in various fields at Carleton discussing the informal and formal barriers faced by women in science.

Women scientists during a panel discussion on stage.

The Turning the Tide for Women in Science event in March 2020

And in June 2020, she led the Faculty of Science’s participation in the #STRIKE4BLACKLIVES, hosting a virtual Town Hall meeting for faculty, staff and contract instructors on how to raise awareness of racism and discuss concrete and sustained actions to foster meaningful change.

Thomson says promoting women in science and working to reduce barriers for BIPOC people (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour), are positive changes that will benefit everybody.

“I have a lot of ideas of things we can do, including here at Carleton,” she says. “And I’m just getting started.”

Monday, July 13, 2020 in
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