Astronomy and astrophysics grad student recognized with Out to Innovate Award for LGBTQ+ activism

October 11, 2022

Samantha Usman

Samantha Usman, a graduate student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, has been announced as a winner of the 2022 Out to Innovate Scholarships, made possible by a grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

Out to Innovate is a professional society that educates and advocates for LGBTQ+ people in STEM. The nonprofit organization presents educational symposia and workshops nationwide and fosters dialogue with other professional societies, academia, and industry to facilitate diversity and inclusion in the workplace. 

Samantha Usman will receive a $3,000 graduate scholarship with this recognition. The award citation reads, “Samantha is fulfilling her lifelong dream to study the stars. As an undergraduate at Syracuse University and a master’s student at Cardiff University, she tested and developed computational analyses to validate the detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). This significant contribution will enable discoveries for years to come. She now studies stars enriched with elements from previous stellar generations. 

“Samantha serves as a role-model and mentor for other women and LGBTQ+ scientists. As part of this work, she noted the isolation for graduate students during COVID-19 lock-down in 2020 and created a social messaging server for LGBTQ+ graduate students at the University of Chicago which enabled a thriving supportive community that continues two-years later. ‘I'm excited to accept the Out to Innovate scholarship! I look forward to using this grant to attend conferences and connect with other LGBT+ scientists in the coming year.’”

Three other winners were announced: Emma Strassberg of State University of New York, Kevin Tu of University of Maryland, College Park, and Luis Tun of University of Southern California.

For more information about this organization and its outreach, visit Out to Innovate.

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