Department of Applied Physics

Department of Applied Physics Diversity Team

The Diversity Team of the Department of Applied Physics is active in promoting community formation, inclusion and wellbeing for all our departmental members
Logo of the PHYS Diversity Team in Aalto colours

About Us

Physics should offer equal opportunities to everyone, be a welcoming environment and a place for individuals to thrive. At present we recognize the need for a change in our current working culture that has to start in our community.

We envision a future where everybody feels at ease, exercises their research in an environment free of harassment and enjoys being a part of our community. 

We embrace a mutual culture of respect and professionalism among our Department’s community. 


Following a climate survey on equality in the summer of 2019, the Physics Department has held a series of community events discussing our current diversity and equality situation and future efforts. As a result of these events, the PHYS Diversity Team was brought to life in May 2020, backed by our Departmental leadership. 

We are a team of 11 people representing all layers of the Physics Department with two representatives/group- students and researchers, staff and faculty. We operate under a shared leadership model and our efforts are guided by tools offered by the APS IDEA network (see below). We hold regular meetings where we discuss our learnings, plan new actions, challenge our views and exchange ideas. 


Our vision is to help the Department produce a strategic but realistic, long term (10-20 years) plan to thrive for a culture change. We work closely with our departmental leadership and HR to make this vision a reality.

Photo of physicist Lise Meitner

The life must not be easy if it is only rich in contents

Lise Meitner (Physicist, 1878 - 1968)

What We Want to Do

In addition to our regular discussions, we plan concrete actions at the Department. We have an annual budget available to support these actions.

  • education and making diversity issues visible- our members also represent the Department in various committees where we raise awareness to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) issues. This website is one such example, but we also distribute information by email and via our info screens in campus buildings
  • we aim for an official EDI statement and strategic plan at our Department and at the University in conjunction with the leadership
  • actively promoting shared leadership in other University committees and lobbying on behalf of EDI efforts at Aalto
  • we aim to host local events such as themed breakfasts and lunches, communal get-togethers for students and newcomers, and physical presence throughout our buildings
  • we have installed an online anonymous drop box- this tool can be used to send us anonymous feedback, comments, concerns but also praise about the Department’s and our work. See information below.
  • raising awareness: we have hosted a screening of the documentary PICTURE A SCIENTIST for all Aalto members in December 2020. Viewers were invited to express their impressions of this movie in an anonymous online discussion forum. We have collected this feedback and passed it on to the School and Aalto leadership
  • better representation of diversity in art in our buildings: our plan is to install a new set of artworks better representing our community in our building galleries- the plan is to have this new artwork in addition to the existing one
  • we aim to collect data on diversity at our Department 
  • We support research groups together with HR to develop group charters where they can set rules for good practices and norms 
  • we aim for social media presence in the future to highlight our cause 
  • we aim for a more diverse set of speakers at our departmental seminars 
  • we serve as contact points for diversity issues at PHYS- please contact any of our members if you would like to get in touch 

Latest highlights

Anonymous drop box has been activated: see the info below with link to leave comments anonymously (also with non-anonymous option). Only visible for Aalto members (make sure you are logged in with your profile).

To celebrate the International Women's Day of 2023, we are organizing a social breakfast event with guest speaker Azra Tayebi. See the event announcement for more details.

To mark Women's Day in 2022 we interviewed our female physics professors. The interviews can be found here:

Recent Events

graphic with text on background with leaves and dyed fabric

International Women's Day Event: "Colors, values, courage: working between disciplines"

Join us for a social breakfast feat. guest speaker Dr. Kirsi Mantua-Kommonen

Azra Tayebi

"Make Your Dreams Come True" Women's Day Breakfast at the Department of Applied Physics

The PHYS Diversity Team organizes a Breakfast event on International Women's Day featuring an inspiring talk by Azra Tayebi who is a blind web accessibility specialist


Some earlier highlights

  • We wrote a Letter to Aalto leadership to raise EDI (equality, diversity and inclusivity) issues for example in hiring practices. A few of our members were met by the provost for subsequent discussions on the topic.
  • In January 2021, to enhance the visibility of women in physics and to provide online teaching material, two of our female students made four exercise problem videos using the Aalto Studios' lightboard system. Thanks to SCI Diversity and Inclusivity Fund for funding the pilot project!
  • We hosted a screening of the documentary PICTURE A SCIENTIST for all Aalto members in December 2020. Viewers were invited to express their impressions of this movie in an anonymous online discussion forum. We collected this feedback and passed it on to the School and Aalto leadership.

Find Out More About Us!

Photo showing diverse group of Aalto students

Meet our PHYS Diversity Team Members

Find out more about the individuals of the PHYS Diversity Team

Department of Applied Physics
Logos showing PHYS Diversity Team and APS-IDEA participation

APS IDEA Network Participation

The Department of Applied Physics participates in an international network to support EDI efforts sponsored by APS

Department of Applied Physics
Photo showing a group of students working together

Shared Leadership Statement and Principles

The PHYS Diversity Team has created a set of norms by which we implement our shared leadership model

Department of Applied Physics


We'd love to hear from you! Please email us with any questions or suggestions.

[email protected]

Team Members

Imran Asghar

 Fereshteh Sohrabi

Fereshteh Sohrabi

Doctoral Researcher
T304 Dept. Applied Physics

Christian Flindt

Associate Professor
T304 Dept. Applied Physics
 Bernadette Gehl-Väisänen

Bernadette Gehl-Väisänen

T304 Dept. Applied Physics
 Rebecca Heilmann

Rebecca Heilmann

Postdoctoral Researcher

Anni Toijala

BSc student, Engineering Physics
 Maryam Borghei

Maryam Borghei

T304 Dept. Applied Physics

Matilda Backholm

Useful Resources

International Women's Day 2021 - celebrating the women of PHYS!

Article highlighting the accomplishments of the women from the Physics Department

bubble graph of stats

Women and men perform equally well in physics studies (external link)

A new study published and highlighted by APS dispels myth about men outperforming women in physics

Article heading confirming equal performance of men and women in physics

APS IDEA Network (external link)

The APS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA) is a new initiative with a mission of empowering and supporting physics departments, laboratories, and other organizations to identify and enact strategies for improving equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). It will do so by establishing a community of transformation.

Logo showing a diverse group of people

PICTURE A SCIENTIST Documentary (external link)

PICTURE A SCIENTIST is an award-winning documentary highlighting systemic bias and discrimination in science

Photo of Prof. Nancy Hopkins holding up a jar with live fish.

Diversity in Physics Finland (FinDiP) working group (external link)

FinDiP (Diversity in Physics Finland) is an active working group of the Finnish Physical Society active in promoting EDI efforts at Finnish physics institutions

Graphic showing a female scientist in front of a computer

PICTURE A SCIENTIST documentary coming to Aalto virtually

Documentary film addressing systemic bias available for free watching to all Aalto members.

A graphic showing three female researchers featured in the documentary PICTURE A SCIENTIST

Making Waves

Discussing diversity and inclusiveness in our community

Making waves VI

Color of Science

Color of Science

Gradient image

Intervening in the harassment and inappropriate treatment experienced by the personnel

The Code of Conduct is one way of putting our values and way of working - the foundation of our community culture - into practice.

People sitting around tables in BIZ premises

Twelve Principles to Reduce Bias and Discrimination in STEM (external link)

Twelve Principles Trainees, PIs, Departments, and Faculties Can Use to Reduce Bias and Discrimination in STEM


EDI Learning Hub

Practical tips for fostering diversity and inclusion.

Aalto people
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