Mathematical and Physical Sciences
The units in the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) pursue fundamental scientific inquiries that can lead to significant breakthroughs to address important issues such as health, energy, and the environment; help to meet important societal challenges such as the current battle against COVID-19; and collect, manage and analyze the data accumulating in our complex world.
Just as we are addressing societal problems through the convergence of interdisciplinary research—with physics collaborating with biology, statistics with the medical school, and machine learning and data science being applied in many fields—our students and scholars must comprise an inclusive community where each member can bring their perspective to contribute to new knowledge. To solve the challenges facing our world, the students and researchers must reflect its myriad cultures, backgrounds, and diversity.
All members of society must have the opportunity to participate in solving society’s problems and be exposed to and engaged in these foundational sciences that underpin the workings of the world. Yet, we recognize the current state of MPS departments and the challenges faced in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
Associate Professor of Computer Sciences Amélie Marian, above, leads discussion in the SAS Signature Course Data 101 to introduce students across the liberal arts to fundamental concepts in statistics, and some basic programming skills--so they gain data literacy. Her research interests are in explainable rankings, accountability of decision-making systems, personal digital traces, and data integration. She is the recipient of a Microsoft Live Labs Award, three Google Research Awards, and an NSF CAREER award.
Across MPS, we are also focused on developing innovative methods of teaching and engaging students from across the school; we are creating programming to address gender deficits and to better recruit and retain undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups. Our timely Data Science certificate introduces students with non-STEM majors to the contributions they can make in those fields with a working knowledge of the basic principles of computation, statistical inference, and data management. We are establishing goals and strategies to define a path towards goals with milestones to assess progress.
We also recognize that students, particularly those with socio-economic disadvantages, enter college with different levels of knowledge and experience.
Our departments are collaborating with middle- and high-school teachers and administrators in mathematics, physics, and computer science with the goal of increasing the capacity of the schools to teach and engage students in these STEM fields: the long-running New Jersey Partnership for Excellence in Middle School Mathematics reaches many students across the state; an initiative by faculty in physics and astronomy of monthly outreach to New Brunswick Middle and High Schools enriches physics education for underserved 7th and 9th graders; a joint program between computers sciences and the Graduate School of Education is working on improving the gender balance in the field.
The Geology Museum and its outreach programming and tours; the Faraday Physics Lectures which were developed into an additional 40 shows a year at schools and libraries around the state; and the Rutgers Science Explorer—known as the "Science Bus"—all reach diverse audiences that are younger and span the age groups.
MPS will continue to expand participation in broadening outreach programs to improve the pipeline from underrepresented groups to the undergraduate and graduate programs including streamlining pathways from New Jersey’s community colleges to enrolling in the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences with majors in Mathematical and Physical Sciences departments .
Below is a selected list of current programs and initiatives: