Professor named ‘Woman Physicist of the Month’ by national society

Susan Blessing, professor of physics at Florida State.

Florida State University physics Professor Susan Blessing has been named the Woman Physicist of the Month for September by the American Physical Society’s Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.

The Woman Physicist of the Month award highlights exceptional female physicists who positively affect the lives and careers of others.

Blessing’s research focuses on electroweak physics and the search for new phenomena. She is a member of Fermilab’s D0 Collaboration, a proton-antiproton collider experiment. She also belongs to the FSU Experimental High Energy Physics group, which recently helped to make significant upgrades to various parts of the D0 Collaboration.

In addition, Blessing serves as director of Florida State’s Women in Math, Science and Engineering (WIMSE) Program, which is committed to the success of women in these fields.

Of the bachelor’s degrees awarded in the fields of physics, engineering and computer science, women account for only 20 percent, which adds up to a serious gender problem for those fields, according to Paul Cottle, Florida State’s Steve Edwards Professor of Physics who chairs the American Physical Society’s Committee on Education.

“What we’ve learned in study after study of this issue is that we will not make any progress on solving this gender problem unless we focus on building relationships with students and among students, which takes tremendous commitment and passion,” said Cottle, who nominated Blessing for the award. “This is the work that Susan does with her students in both WIMSE and the Department of Physics. She just pours herself into encouraging these students and ferreting out opportunities for them.”

Sam Huckaba, dean of the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, echoed Cottle’s praise of Blessing’s substantial contributions in support of women scientists.

“As the director of our Women in Mathematics, Science and Engineering program for the past several years, Susan has done much to help young women here at FSU pursue their interests in science,” Huckaba said. “The award also reflects well on FSU by directing more national attention to our excellent Department of Physics.”

Florida State physics Professor Laura Reina was named APS Woman Physicist of the Month in February 2013.