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The 14th Annual VPA Symposium

The 14th Annual VPA Symposium has been cancelled. Vanderbilt has "suspended all university-sponsored non-Athletics events and gatherings ... through April 30." For more information please see

A one-day conference highlighting postdoctoral research across VU and VUMC. 

APRIL 23, 2020 | 11 AM – 6 PM 

Keynote: Quantitative Approaches to Social Justice

Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics, Williams College

Civil rights leader, educator, and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells said that "the way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them." In this talk, I demonstrate how quantitative and computational approaches can shine a light on social injustices and help build solutions to remedy them. One project uses data science tools to study gender representation on mathematics journal editorial boards, finding that of 13,000 editorial positions studied, a mere 8.9% are held by women. A second project is constitutes a large scale study of gender and ethnic representation amongst artists whose works are held in the collections of major U.S. museums. We estimate that 85% of these artists are white and 87% are men. We find that the relationship between museum collection mission and artist diversity is weak, suggesting that a museum wishing to increase diversity might do so without changing its emphases on specific time periods and regions. Finally, I will mention other quantitative social justice projects underway in the realms of criminal justice, music, education, and more.

Lunch & Exhibits

Lightning Talks & Posters (prizes awarded) 

Networking Reception & Awards Ceremony (refreshments provided)

Postdoc of the Year
Postdoc Service Award (click link for criteria)
Mentor of the Year (click link for criteria)

Submit nominations and statements through the registration form. 

Download the VPA Symposium Flyer  or the VPA Symposium Flyer (slide version)



Symposia websites from previous years: 2019 2017