Women account for only a quarter of U.S. graduates who earn bachelor’s degrees in physics, according to the American Physical Society, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization. Texas A&M University physics professor Tatiana Erukhimova is trying to make that change with social media.
Videos she has made of her experiments have sparked curiosity and attracted millions of users to TikTok over the past two years.
” Although you cannot tell much with these brief clips,… it is possible to inspire.” she stated.
Afiya Dahanani attended Texas A&M University, after she had seen Erukhimova’s online physics experiments.
“Watching Dr. Tatiana do the experiments online, especially since she was a female leader, was more inspiring for me to even go into physics,” Dhanani said.
Erukhimova’s journey began thousands of miles away, about six hours northeast of Moscow, before the breakup of the Soviet Union. She grew up with two physicists as parents and later married a physicist, Alexey. They relocated to College Station, Texas, where they serve as educators.
” I didn’t feel at home. But you make it home,” Erukhimova said. Erukhimova volunteers in outreach when she’s not teaching. In 2021, she was involved in a study that included 10,000 students, physicists and other individuals in the sciences. It was revealed that women are equally capable of physics, which she continues to use today.
” We collected scores from final exams and midterm exams over 10 year. These exam scores showed no difference in performance between males and women. And I felt that this was a very important message for my students,” Erukhimova said.
A former student Nicole Cirigioni was impressed by Erukhimova’s passion and commitment to teaching. She said, “You know when a teacher is looking for a new place to teach.” You can see that Dr. Tatiana wants you there when you enter her classroom. She cares and wants you to learn, which makes you want to learn, too.”
Up next for Erukhimova is the “Physics and Engineering Festival” at A&M in April, an event that draws in thousands of people to campus every year. This festival is open to everyone, and according to Erukhimova, you don’t need to be a scientist to celebrate science, just like you don’t need to be a musician to attend a music festival.
Former student Callie Rethman said Erukhimova “always wants everything to be like a celebration of science.”
“And I think that her videos going viral have really brought that celebration everywhere,” she said.
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