Elizabeth H. Simmons, Ph.D.

Dean, Lyman Briggs College
Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Staff Development; University Distinguished Professor of Physics, Michigan State University
Bridging the STEM Diversity Gap in College
Thursday, May 25, 2017 | 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Dr. Elizabeth H. Simmons is Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Staff Development, Dean of Lyman Briggs College, and University Distinguished Professor of Physics in the Michigan State University Department of Physics and Astronomy. Lyman Briggs is a four-year residential undergraduate residential college at Michigan State University that focuses on the study of science in historical, philosophical, and sociological context. In her Associate Provost’s role, Dr. Simmons leads the Academic Advancement Network, which promotes an inclusive, proactive culture supporting professional development for all MSU faculty, academic staff, and academic leaders. She was an American Council on Education Fellow at Yale University during the 2013-14 academic year; during 2014-15, she served as Acting Dean of MSU’s College of Arts & Letters.

Dr. Simmons is a theoretical high-energy physicist, whose research focuses on the origins of the masses of the elementary subatomic particles, especially the top quark. She is currently studying how physics beyond the Standard Model might manifest itself in experiments in progress at the CERN Large Hadron Collider. She enjoys teaching physics courses at all levels, from introductory to graduate, and is especially fond of teaching mathematical physics to juniors in physics, astronomy, and engineering. Part of her mission as an educator is to encourage students from groups under-represented in physics to consider studies and careers in the physical sciences.

After completing her undergraduate degree in physics at Harvard University magna cum laude and being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, Dr. Simmons earned an M.Phil. in physics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar. She returned to Harvard for her doctoral degree and postdoctoral fellowship, and then spent a decade as a professor at Boston University before joining the MSU faculty in summer 2003. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, a Fellow and Outstanding Referee of the American Physical Society, a Trustee and General Member of the Aspen Center for Physics, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She won the ACE Michigan Network’s Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award in 2005 and MSU’s Robert F. Banks Award for Institutional Leadership in 2013.

Dr. Simmons has served as a US Delegate to the International Conference on Women in Physics in 2008 (Korea) and 2011 (South Africa) and has co-organized 2013 and 2015 conferences on professional development for women physicists in the developing world at the International Center for Theoretical Physics (Italy). She writes a regular column “Mend the Gap” for Inside Higher Ed, addressing issues that bridge the divide between administrators and faculty and is a 2016 Top Writer on Quora. Dr. Simmons is a member of the Organizing Board of the advocacy group lgbt+physicists and a co-author of the recent LGBT Climate Report commissioned by the American Physical Society.