What is Ultracold?

Ultracold is a longform newsletter that publishes on a weekly-to-biweekly schedule (depending on how much chaos there is currently in my life). It reflects my experience as a queer, female, immigrant physicist living, learning and working in the United States.

Every letter consists of:

  • a personal essay processing current events and occurrences in my own life through a lens of science and popular culture

  • media recommendations: music, podcasts, movies, books, newsletter and everything else I am currently consuming and thinking about

  • vegan recipes and recipe recommendations

Who is Karmela?

I hold a Ph. D. in theoretical physics and have spent the past decade working as an academic researcher, teacher, mentor, project manager for art productions rooted in science, an advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in the sciences as well as a labor organizer in higher education. My writing has been published on the Scientific America Opinions blog, the Lifeology blog and The Xylom, an award-winning Millennium Fellowship Project where scientists share personal, authentic stories outside of their research. You can find out more about me by visiting my website karmelapadaviccallaghan.com. Please do also connect with me on Twitter or Instagram.

Why this?

I don’t encounter many voices like mine online or in physical spaces I move through for work and therefore want to use my own to be as loud as I can. I would love for “queer, female, immigrant physicist” to one day be a niche; there should be more of us.

A bit of context…

I started Ultracold in July of 2017 as a minor self-indulgence. It was meant to keep me engaged and honest, and push me to verbalize and work through thoughts and feelings I may have otherwise had a hard time confronting. I also just wanted a space to whine, go on and on about whatever I was cooking and baking, and to pretend that I could be a writer alongside working on my Ph. D. Most of those things are still true.

At the same time, I did finish my Ph. D., I did get married and I did end up writing more than just this newsletter. Ultracold - referring to my work in the area of physics near absolute zero, many freezing places I’ve lived, first impressions I’ve made with my incurable resting-b*tch-face, and this writing project all at the same time - has followed me around and helped me grow in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Writing these letters is among the things I most enjoy doing and one that I feel the most ownership over. I commit a lot of time to it and am beyond grateful and flattered every time I see a new reader. Thank you for being here!