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Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky will give lecture on the physics of NASCAR

Thursday, March 20, 2014
Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky will give lecture on the physics of NASCAR

Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky will talk to Oakland University about how to make steel + gas + rubber = speed. (Photo by Sarah Pfeiffer)
By Kelli M. Titus, Writer

In the United States, males largely dominate the science and engineering field. According to the U.S. National Science Foundation, women comprise a mere 28 percent of scientists and engineers working in science and engineering occupations.

As educational resources vastly evolve, though, more female scientists are not only emerging into the field, but becoming nationally recognized.

One such scientist will speak to an Oakland University audience on Monday, March 24.


Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky is a scientist and professor of physics at West Virginia University and contributes her time to science education and communication. Her research, which is supported by agencies including the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Health, focuses on the fundamental studies of magnetic materials, including nanomaterials for medical diagnosis and treatment processes.

Author of the book “The Physics of Nascar,” Leslie-Pelecky also explores the complexities of motorsports and the science behind them.

“She is an expert communicator of the excitement associated with science,” said Kathleen Moore, professor emerita of chemistry and director of Women in Science and Engineering at Oakland University.


During a lecture by Leslie-Pelecky, presented by the Chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientist will communicate basic ideas of science and engineering and how they impact everyday life.

Leslie-Pelecky is a popular speaker with technical and non-technical audiences. Her public appearances have been sponsored by organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, numerous science museums and the American Physical Society.

“I believe the students will gain a deep appreciation of basic science and how it applies to the real world,“ Moore said.

Leslie-Pelecky’s lecture will be held on Monday, March 24 at 4 p.m. in the Oakland Center Gold Room A. See event details

To further promote and educate the university community, the Center for Biomedical Research will host a festival highlighting biomedical research by OU students on the day of Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky’s visit from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Heritage Room of the Oakland Center. 


“Women represent over half of our population and constitute a large majority of current college students; therefore, it is essential that they be encouraged to consider a fulfilling career in science or engineering,” Moore said.

Oakland University welcomes faculty and staff that encourage the advancement of women in these fields, and although there has been increased interest in science and engineering majors, women are still under-represented.

The U.S. National Science Foundation states that the science and engineering fields have a higher proportion of men, and although the amount of women in this field has increased over the past 20 years, female participation still remains below 30 percent.

“The United States faces stiff competition in a very technical and competitive world,” said Oakland University physics professor, Brad Roth. “We cannot afford to draw on only half our population when searching for the scientists and engineers of tomorrow who will make our scientific advances.”

Oakland University’s high graduation rate of women enrolled in science, math and engineering is a vital step in the basic research and technical advances that move the university forward. But while female science majors and graduates represent about 32 percent of those majors, there are only 20 percent of tenure track faculty that are women – a number Moore would like to see increase.

“It is critical that we encourage all talented individuals to become part of that broad endeavor,” Moore said.


The Women in Science and Engineering program at Oakland University (WISE@OU) was developed to promote a comprehensive program in recruitment, retention and career development of women and under-represented populations in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math.

This project is funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE program through a Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination Grant.