TEAM-UP Task Force

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The AIP National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP)

The number of physics and astronomy bachelor’s degrees awarded in the US is at an all-time high.  Yet, the proportion of these degrees earned by African Americans remains appallingly low.  A smaller proportion of physics and astronomy bachelor’s degrees are awarded to African Americans today than was the case two decades ago.

The AIP TEAM-UP Task Force is investigating the reasons for the persistent underrepresentation of African American undergraduate students in physics and astronomy, and will produce a report of its findings with evidence-based recommendations for increasing the number of African American students obtaining physics and astronomy bachelor’s degrees.

Follow us on Twitter: @AIP_TEAMUP and check out our Twitter Chat series, #TEAMUPTalks.

Activities and Timeline

The Task Force will conduct its work over a two-year period and undertake the following:

  • The Survey of African American physics & astronomy students aimed at understanding their experiences is now closed. The TEAM-UP Task Force is now analyzing the results of the survey for the report to be released in early 2020.
  • Site Visits to varied institutions to learn first hand from students, faculty and administrators about the climates, challenges, and opportunities for increased diversity and inclusion within the physics and astronomy fields. (Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019)
  • Develop evidence-based recommendations and work with pilot schools to implement them (Fall 2019)
  • Release Task Force Report to disseminate recommendations broadly in the physics community (Spring 2020)



Number of Bachelor's Degrees Earned in Physics, 1955 - 2016

Number of Bachelor's Degrees Earned in Physics, 1955 - 2016

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The Proportion of Physics Bachelor's Degrees Awarded to African-Americans and Hispanics

The Proportion of Physics Bachelor's Degrees Awarded to African-Americans and Hispanics

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Task Force Members

AIP Task Force Chair:

Mary James, A. A. Knowlton Professor of Physics & Dean for Institutional Diversity, Reed College

Task force Members:

Brian Beckford, Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow/Asst. Physics Prof., Univ. of Michigan

Ed Bertschinger, Professor of Physics, Institute Community & Equity Officer, MIT

Tabbetha Dobbins, Associate Professor of Physics, Rowan University

Sharon Fries-Britt, Professor of Higher Education, University of Maryland

Sylvester James Gates, Ford Foundation Professor of Physics, Brown University

Jedidah Isler, NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt Univ.

Mia Ong, Senior Research Scientist, TERC

Arlisa Richardson, Physics Professor, Chandler-Gilbert University

Quinton Williams, Chair and Professor of Physics, Howard University

AIP Project Staff:

Philip “Bo” Hammer, Senior Director

Arlene Modeste Knowles, Diversity Task Force Project Manager


Partial funding for TEAM UP provided by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement.