Edmund Bertschinger: Candidate for At-Large Trustee

Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Position/Title: Professor of Physics

PhD institution: Princeton University (1984)

Areas of scientific interest:

  • Theoretical astrophysics: gravitation, cosmology, Hamiltonian dynamics, numerical methods
  • Sociology: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in STEM disciplines

AAS and/or Division leadership positions and dates:

  • Member, Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, AAS (2010 – 2016)
  • Member, Dannie Heineman Prize Committee, AAS (2011 – 2013; Chair 2013)
  • Member, Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Graduate Education, AAS (2017 – 2018)

Other relevant positions, experience, and dates:

  • Member, Electorate Nominating Committee, AAAS Section on Astronomy (2013 – 2016)
  • Member-at-Large, AAAS Section on Physics (2011 – 2015)
  • Member, National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics and Astronomy (TEAM-UP), AIP (2017 – 2019; Co-chair 2019)
  • Co-PI, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA), APS (2019 – 2021)
  • Member, Board of Trustees, Summer Science Program (2019 – 2022)

For more than a decade, my passion and top professional priority has been to help shift the cultures of astronomy and physics to be equitable and inclusive for everyone, with a representation at all levels that reflects the full diversity of our nation and the world. To continue our impressive gains in understanding the universe, astronomers must better understand the role of culture and society in our work. It is not enough to foster a professional climate that enhances diversity and inclusion; we must critically examine our norms and values, recognize and reward the hard work of improving access and representation, and reform the places we work, teach, and learn to eliminate harassment and other harmful behaviors.

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the AAS. As such, it has an important oversight role in the Society's management, its direction, and its affairs and property. Through its regular meetings and liaison roles with AAS Committees, the Board provides crucial direction to ensure that the AAS carries out its mission according to its Strategic Plan.

My experience in academic leadership (five years as head of astrophysics, six years as physics department head, five years as university-wide senior diversity officer) and governance (committee service in AAS and AAAS, board member of a non-profit providing a life-changing summer experience to high school students interested in astrophysics or biochemistry) will help me to serve effectively in the role of Trustee. In addition to my research in cosmology, gravitation, and dynamics and teaching in physics and astrophysics, I have an appointment in Women's and Gender Studies where I teach and have launched a research program to identify factors that support enhanced equity, diversity, and inclusion within university departments. If elected, I will work with other board members and AAS leaders to help the AAS effectively carry out its mission, with emphasis on the strategic goals focusing outward on society and inward on equity, diversity, and inclusion in our profession.