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Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

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Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Becoming Interplanetary.jpg
Prescod-Weinstein at "Becoming Interplanetary" talk at the Library of Congress in 2018
Alma materHarvard College
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Waterloo
Scientific career
Quantum gravity
Equality activism
InstitutionsGoddard Space Flight Center
University of Washington
University of New Hampshire

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an American and Barbadian theoretical cosmologist, and is both an Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy and a Core Faculty Member in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of New Hampshire. From 2016 to 2018, she was the Principal Investigator on a Foundational Questions Institute (FQXI) grant titled "Epistemological Schemata of Astro | Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers."

Early life and education[edit]

Prescod-Weinstein was born in El Sereno in East Los Angeles, California, and went to school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.[1][2] She is of Barbadian descent on her mother's side and Russian-Jewish and Ukrainian-Jewish descent on her father's side.[3] She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics and Astronomy at Harvard College in 2003. Her thesis, "A study of winds in active galactic nuclei", was completed under the supervision of Martin Elvis.[4] She then earned a master's degree in Astronomy in 2005 at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working with Anthony Aguirre.[5] In 2006, Prescod-Weinstein changed research directions and ultimately moved to the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics to work with Dr. Lee Smolin. In 2010, Prescod-Weinstein completed her Ph.D. dissertation, titled "Acceleration as Quantum Gravity Phenomenology",[6] under the supervision of Lee Smolin and Niayesh Afshordi at University of Waterloo, while conducting her research at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.[1][7]


Prescod-Weinstein's research has focused on various topics in cosmology and theoretical physics, including the axion as a dark matter candidate,[8] inflation, and classical and quantum fields in the early universe.[9]

From 2004 to 2007 Prescod-Weinstein was a named National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.[10]

After Prescod-Weinstein's Ph.D., she was a NASA Postdoctoral Fellow in the Observational Cosmology Lab at Goddard Space Flight Center.[10][11] In 2011, she won a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she was jointly appointed to the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research and the Department of Physics.[10][11][12] At MIT, Prescod-Weinstein worked in Alan Guth's group in the Center for Theoretical Physics.[13]

In 2016, she became the Principal Investigator on a $100,522 FQXI grant to study “Epistemological Schemata of Astro | Physics: A Reconstruction of Observers” seeking to answer questions regarding how to re-frame who is an "observer", to acknowledge those existing outside of the European Enlightenment framework, and how that might change knowledge production in science.[14]

She is working on the NASA STROBE-X experiment.[15]


Prescod-Weinstein earned the Barbados House Canada Inc. Gordon C Bynoe Scholarship in 2007.[10] In 2013 she won the MIT "Infinite Kilometer Award".[16] In March 2017, Prescod-Weinstein won the LGBT+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award "For Years of Dedicated Effort in Changing Physics Culture to be More Inclusive and Understanding Toward All Marginalised Peoples".[17]

Prescod-Weinstein was recognized by Essence Magazine as one of 15 Black Women Who are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers.[18] Prescod-Weinstein's personal story and ideas have been featured in several venues, including Huffington Post, Gizmodo, Nylon, and the African-American Intellectual History Society.[19] She was named to Nature's list of "ten people who helped shape science in 2020" in January 2021,[20] as well as one of VICE Motherboard's "Humans2020," "honoring scientists, engineers, and visionaries who are changing the world for the better."[21]

Prescod-Weinstein received the 2021 Edward A. Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society, in recognition "For contributions to theoretical cosmology and particle physics, ranging from axion physics to models of inflation to alternative models of dark energy, for tireless efforts in increasing inclusivity in physics, and for co-creating the Particles for Justice movement."[22]

Public engagement[edit]

Prescod-Weinstein is an advocate[23] for increasing the diversity within science by considering intersectionality[24] and proper celebration of the underrepresented groups who contribute to scientific knowledge production.[25] She has been a member of the executive committee of the National Society of Black Physicists.[26] In 2017 she was a plenary speaker at the Women in Physics Canada meeting.[27]

Prescod-Weinstein has contributed popular science articles for Slate, American Scientist, Nature Astronomy, Bitch media, and Physics World.[28][29][30][31][32] She is on the Book Review Board of Physics Today and was editor-in-chief of The Offing.[33] The American Physical Society described her as a "vocal presence on Twitter".[34] Prescod-Weinstein maintains a Decolonising Science Reading List.[35] Prescod-Weinstein has given several interviews and public talks.[36][37][38][39]

In October 2018, Prescod-Weinstein was one of 18 authors of a public letter titled "High Energy Physics Community Statement" hosted on a website called "Particles for Justice." The statement condemned Alessandro Strumia's controversial claim at CERN's first Workshop on High Energy Theory and Gender that male scientists were victims of discrimination.[40][41][42] Within a day of publication, nearly 1,600 academics had signed the letter in support. [41] As of October 13, it had received nearly 4,000 signatures, including those of John Ellis, Howard Georgi and David Gross.[43][44]

In June of 2020, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Prescod-Weinstein, Brian Nord, and the Particles for Justice group organized a global "Strike for Black Lives."[40] Prescod-Weinstein authored a note on the Particles for Justice page titled "What I wanted when I called for a Strike for Black Lives." On June 10th, the day of the strike, over 4,500 academics pledged participation in the strike. Additionally, numerous organizations including Nature, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute of Physics supported and/or participated in the strike. [45]

Prescod-Weinstein's book, The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred, was published by Bold Type Books in March 2021 and draws from her experience and knowledge as a Black woman theoretical physicist.[18] She is a monthly contributor to New Scientist, with a column entitled "Field Notes from Space-time,"[46] and a contributing columnist for Physics World.[47]

Prescod-Weinstein was a founding member of the American Astronomical Society Committee for Sexual Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy.[19] Prescod-Weinstein has in the past also been a member of the Jewish Voice for Peace Academic Advisory council.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Prescod-Weinstein is queer and agender.[2] She is married to a lawyer. She has no children. Her mother Margaret Prescod emigrated from Barbados as a teenager, and in New York was a founder of International Black Women for Wages for Housework in 1974.[48] Prescod-Weinstein is the granddaughter of feminist Selma James and the step-granddaughter of Trinidadian writer and historian C.L.R. James.[49] Prescod-Weinstein advocates for social justice issues on Twitter.


  1. ^ a b Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda Rosalyn Sojourner (2010-09-22). "Cosmic Acceleration As Quantum Gravity Phenomenology". UWSpace. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  2. ^ a b Pitney, Nico (2015-06-24). "Meet The 63rd Black Woman In American History With A Physics Ph.D." HuffPost UK. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  3. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (July 29, 2015). "Hold Fast to Blackness". Medium. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  4. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (2018-02-06). "A study of winds in active galactic nuclei /". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  5. ^ "Guest Post: Chanda". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  6. ^ "Cosmic acceleration as quantum gravity phenomenology", WorldCat.
  7. ^ "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | Perimeter Institute". Retrieved 2018-02-15.
  8. ^ Nowogrodzki, Anna (2015-12-07). "Tiny dark matter stars would harbour particles that act as one". New Scientist. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  9. ^ "Meet a Scientist - Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | Perimeter Institute". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  10. ^ a b c d "Curriculum Vitae". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  11. ^ a b "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | Perimeter Institute". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  12. ^ "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, Physics – Martin Luther King Jr. Scholars". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  13. ^ "How I Got Here". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  14. ^ "FQXi - Foundational Questions Institute". Retrieved 2018-02-28.
  15. ^ "Making a Universe with Axions | Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  16. ^ "MIT School of Science". Archived from the original on 2018-03-06. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  17. ^ "lgbt+physicists - Acknowledgement of Excellence Awards". Archived from the original on 2018-02-15. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  18. ^ a b "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  19. ^ a b c "My Science". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2019-11-21.
  20. ^ "Nature's 10: ten people who helped shape science in 2020". Nature. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
  21. ^ "The Physicist and Social Theorist Fighting for Equality in Science". Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  22. ^ "Awards". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2020-10-07.
  23. ^ Sokol, Joshua (2016-08-23). "Why the Universe Needs More Black and Latino Astronomers". Smithsonian. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  24. ^ Kaplan, Sarah (2017-07-11). "Women of color face staggering harassment in space science". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  25. ^ Bradford., Edwards, Sue (2016-12-06). Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA. New York: ABDO Digital. ISBN 978-1680797404. OCLC 1003680291.
  26. ^ "Guest Post: Chanda Prescod-Weinstein". Sean Carroll. 2006-10-22. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  27. ^ Institute for Quantum Computing (2017-08-15). "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein - Fields of Cosmological Dreams". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  28. ^ "Writing for the Public". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  29. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (2017-08-09). "Stop Equating 'Science' With Truth". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  30. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (2017-08-14). "Scientists Must Challenge What Makes Studies Scientific". American Scientist. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  31. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (2017). "Curiosity and the end of discrimination". Nature Astronomy. 1 (6): 0145. Bibcode:2017NatAs...1E.145P. doi:10.1038/s41550-017-0145. ISSN 2397-3366.
  32. ^ "Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | Bitch Media". Retrieved 2018-02-08.
  33. ^ Thompson, Rachel. "#LitMagLove: The Offing's Chanda Prescod-Weinstein | Room Magazine". Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  34. ^ "APS Member Chanda Prescod-Weinstein Gets the HuffPo Treatment". 2015-07-06. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  35. ^ Prescod-Weinstein, Chanda (2015-04-25). "Decolonising Science Reading List". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  36. ^ "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD: A day in the life of an astrophysicist". Spark Plug Labs. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  37. ^ "Speaker". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  38. ^ "In the News". Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, PhD. Archived from the original on 2018-02-06. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  39. ^ Calkins, Isabel (2017-02-06). "10 Black Women in Academia That You Need To Know About". NYLON. Retrieved 2018-02-06.
  40. ^ a b "Home". Particles for Justice. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  41. ^ a b "Physicists Condemn Sexism Through 'Particles for Justice'". WIRED. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  42. ^ "Thousands of physicists sign letter condemning 'disgraceful' Alessandro Strumia gender talk – Physics World". Physics World. 2018-10-08. Retrieved 2018-10-12.
  43. ^ "Scientists condemn professor's 'morally reprehensible' talk". BBC News. 2018-10-06. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  44. ^ "More Than 200 Physicists Denounce Sexist Lecture at CERN". Gizmodo. Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  45. ^ "Scientists strike for black lives, a more inclusive academia". Retrieved 2021-03-03.
  46. ^ "Chanda Prescod-Weinstein". New Scientist. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  47. ^ "Reflecting the community: Physics World's new contributing columnists expand our team of opinion writers". Physics World. 2020-11-03. Retrieved 2021-02-03.
  48. ^ "Executive Board". Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health. Retrieved 2019-05-29.
  49. ^ "Black Intellectual History and STEM: A Conversation with Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – AAIHS". Retrieved 2020-06-14.

External links[edit]