Amandeep Kaur
Advancing underrepresented groups—and bridging policy and science

Amandeep Kaur received her Ph.D. in physics from UC Davis in July 2014. Her research concentrated on theoretical solid state physics. During the final year of her doctoral program, she was a graduate student assistant to the dean and chancellor, serving as a liaison between all graduate students and UC Davis administration.

What’s important about your work—and where do you hope to take it?

As a graduate student at UC Davis I found my calling in advocating for underrepresented groups while using my scientific expertise, and in being a champion for closing the gaps between the realm of public/science policy and science. As a physicist I would like to see more women opting for careers in STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and math—and bridging the leadership gap for women in the STEM workforce. Another goal is to create channels for students to engage with our legislators to help them make informed decisions, and to help the students build transferable skills that they can apply for careers in science/public policy and public service. I aim to achieve these goals through my current role in the Office of the Chancellor as a Chancellor’s Science Fellow and working in collaboration with our various campus stakeholders.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

As a Science Fellow, I aim at spearheading two initiatives that I started as graduate student assistant to the dean and chancellor during the past academic year. I believe that mentorship and networking are important components in enhancing the retention and recruitment of women in STEM disciplines. Through my Empowering Women in STEM initiative, in collaboration with other UC Davis entities, I will find innovative ways to initiate and build a mentorship network for women graduate students in STEM disciplines. Another area that has a huge potential is the realm of science/public policy. Our proximity to the state Capitol provides great leverage to connect our students with our legislators. Through my Emerging Leaders in Policy and Public Service initiative I aim to help students grow the skill set needed for a career in science/public policy and to find opportunities to work in various state agencies and offices in Sacramento.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

One of my life goals is to empower women and girls across the globe, help them find innovative ways to be independent and have a source of income, and get them interested in science and math. Another goal is to help students explore a career that they are passionate about and help them find tools to build a strong foundation when they start their careers. My Ph.D. training in physics has made me very entrepreneurial and has added to my technical skills. Being a Business Development Fellow will help broaden my understanding about how to take these goals and develop them into ideas that will help me start a nonprofit foundation aimed at women’s professional development and also helping students to get a head start on their dream career.