Community Engagement Working Group


The Community Engagement Working Group is comprised of graduate students, postdocs, staff, and faculty from the Astronomy and Astrophysics (A&A) department and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP). We are working to attain a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment in our department for all current and incoming members. We also aim to build relationships with community members and organizations in the neighborhoods surrounding the University.

We have worked on different projects since the creation of this group following the petition for supporting black astronomers & physicists at the University of Chicago in Spring 2020. Below you can find some of these activities.

We always welcome new ideas and members. Please do not hesitate to contact us! Also feel free to drop in to any of our meetings; we meet every Tuesday at 3 PM at ERC 517.

The Community Engagement working group does not speak for or represent the views of the A&A department, KICP, or the University.

South Side Visual Arts Contest: Exploring the Universe

A Cosmic Merger of Science and Art for South Side Students: The South Side Science Art Contest

With the recent release of gorgeous images from the James Webb Space Telescope, we have an exciting new opportunity to understand the world around us, from nearby planets to galaxies on the very edge of the universe. The University of Chicago Astronomy & Astrophysics Department invites elementary, middle, and high school students in the South Side of Chicago to engage with this exciting new era in astronomy by creating original works of art with the theme “Exploring the Universe.” This contest is funded by a PSD Inclusive Climate Grant.


Community Conversations

The Community Conversations series aims at bringing community organizations, thinkers, reporters, etc., to discuss key topics such as social inequalities, segregation or the history of the University of Chicago. This series was funded by a PSD Inclusive Climate Grant.

Policing and safety conversations

Within the community engagement group we are working towards raising awareness of the impact UCPD and other police forces present at the University of Chicago have on prospective and present Black community members, promoting dialogue and providing a safe space in our department for these conversations to happen. Besides organizing these internal discussions, we have also attended a few listening sessions arranged by the University, in order to convey our ideas and thoughts to the UPCD leadership. 

Outreach symposium

The first KICP/A&A Outreach Symposium took place in Oct. 2nd 2020. This event consisted of a series of (remote) presentations and open discussions designed to outline the current outreach efforts at A&A/KICP and foster new community engagement initiatives.

Things to do in the south side

Within the group we also aim to support and highlight the history, culture and liveliness of the South Side of Chicago. Below you can find a list of places that we enjoy.


Daisy Bissonette
Madison Brady
Alice Burington-Luna
Juliet Crowell
Emily Lichko
Ava Polzin
Judit Prat
Emily Simon
Jennifer Smith
Galen Tsongas

Past contributing members

Amy Tang, Susmita Adhikari, Jose Maria Ezquiaga, Erik Shirokoff

Working Group Individual Photos


Judit Prat