Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

STEMinist Profile: Carla Fair-Wright, Software Engineer

Oct 11 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Carla Fair
Carla Fair-Wright, Software Engineer
Optimal Consulting LLC

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My high school math teacher Sister Donna Blaul. She always encouraged me to do my best and be authentic. Unfortunately, her life was ended by a tragic event before I could thank her. However, I recently found out about a scholarship that was created in her name.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I was a rebel growing up. I joined the military after a year in Biomedical Engineering at Boston University against family wishes. While I was on active duty in the US Air Force, I worked in war planning. It was extremely complex work and very challenging. Every day was different. I don't miss the pace, but do sometimes miss the challenges.

Role models/heroes:
Betty Shanahan, executive director and CEO for the Society of Women Engineers; Madeleine Albright - First woman to become the United States Secretary of State; Dr. Thelma Estrin - a pioneer in biomedical engineering.

Why do you love working in STEM?
The career opportunities are limitless. You are bound by your imagination and your will to succeed. Being a Software Engineer and Project Manager, I get to work on all types of projects across every industry. My current software project is for one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the US. Prior to taking on this project, I worked for British Petroleum on the Spill Response effort in the Gulf.

Before that, I worked in the automotive industry. I could never be the kind of person that worked for 30 years for a company doing the same job. Owning my own company, seemed like a natural choice for me. I encourage my daughter, who is an actress, to be independent and fiscally aware. At sixteen, she is starting a small theatre workshop for elementary children. I already applied for a spot on the popular TV show Shark Tank for her to pitch her business!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Heed the lesson of Rosalind Franklin. Franklin discovered the helical structure of DNA. Nobel Prize winners Watson and Crick admitted they could not have discovered the structure of DNA without her work. But, Rosalind preferred to work alone and lives in the shadows of history. To be successful and reach your full potential you must learn to work with others. To quote Ursula Burns, mechanical engineer and now CEO of Xerox, "If You Don't Transform, You're Stuck."

Favorite website/app: Twitter

Website: Technological Women Blog
Twitter: @TeknoWomen

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STEMinist Profile: Alexandria DeWolfe, MAVEN Science Data Center lead

Oct 10 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Alex Dewolfe_Steminist Profile
Alexandria DeWolfe, MAVEN Science Data Center Lead

Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP), University of Colorado

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I've been interested in science ever since I was little, thanks to my wonderful parents and some excellent teachers. My dad was a very early computer programmer - he taught me BASIC on a home-built Sinclair in 1982 - so it's no surprise that I've found myself in a computing job. When I was in high school I took physics and loved it, and decided to major in astronomy in college. I went to Wellesley College, which is a women's college and a great place to do science.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
MAVEN! It's NASA's next Mars mission, launching in November 2013. Ten months later, it'll go into orbit around Mars to collect data about the current and past state of the Martian atmosphere. I manage the Science Data Center, which is kind of like the centralized data library for the mission, where the entire MAVEN team can get all the latest data for doing science. Needless to say, it involves a lot of computing power: we don't have a huge data volume, but everything has to be carefully backed up, and accessible to the team but secured against unauthorized access.

It's really exciting to work on a planetary mission, especially since I joined the mission a couple years ago and will be able to take the data center from the initial design through implementation to daily operations during the mission. Also, I can't wait to go to Kennedy Space Center and watch the launch! Follow @maven2mars on Twitter for more info.

Role models and heroes:
Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sally Ride.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in the space program and feeling like my work is part of something really important and exciting. I actually took a break from STEM work for a few years and went to graduate school to study ancient Middle Eastern languages, which was really interesting, but I'm glad to be back in a field with more job opportunities, and I like being able to work on something completely new and innovative.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Working in science is great! There are so many opportunities out there for you if you study a STEM field.

Favorite website or app:
Goodreads and Ravelry, supporting my hobbies.

Twitter: @rocketshipmom - so named when I asked my then-three-year-old son what he thought my job was and he said "Rocketship girl."

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STEMinist Profile: Maria McKavanagh, Research Associate, Wireless Sensor Networks

Oct 09 2012 Published by under Uncategorized


Maria McKavanagh

Post Graduate Research Associate, Wireless Sensor Networks

The University of Manchester, UK

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I have always loved mathematics and physics from a very young age. I liked how logical they were and how I could always see why I was right or wrong. My brother, who is now a software architect, gave me a book called "Java in 24 hours" when I was 12. This was my first taste of computer programming and I loved it!

When I went to grammar school there were many "Insight into Engineering" days and I went to all of them. My love for problem solving just grew and grew and so a degree in Electronic Systems Engineering was an obvious choice.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My coolest project would have to be the one I worked on in the third year of my degree. It was a colour reader for blind and visually impaired people. I have always wanted to help people, and teachers at school suggested I become a doctor, however the sight of blood makes me faint so it didn't seem like the career choice for me!

The outcome of this project was something that had the potential to seriously improve the quality of some people's lives and I thrived on that. The realisation that being an engineer still allowed me to help people reaffirmed that it was the career for me.

Role models/heroes:
I watched a TED talk a short time ago by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It was called "Why we have too few women leaders." I found it extremely inspiring. I would also have to say my mother. Despite never having worked as one, she is one of the best engineers I know. She can solve any problem and I've seen her fix everything from a shelf to an extractor fan. She is determined and will stop at nothing to solve a problem.

One day I witnessed her saw off a door frame to move a piano from one room to another, and have it glued back on and repainted before my father got home! When she decides she is going to do something, she will always find a way, no matter how long it takes to learn how to do it—I definitely have her to thank for where I am today.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Working in STEM makes me feel like I can change the world! That may sound silly, but in my research I may just discover something that no one else has before. Every single day is different which keeps me motivated. Working in a university means I cross paths with some of the best in the field of electrical engineering and I find them fascinating to talk to.

Advice for future STEMinists?
If you are considering a STEM career DO IT! It is challenging but there are big rewards. For those embarking on their career I would say work hard and have confidence in your ability. STEM is still male dominated which can sometimes be a bit intimidating, particularly early in your career, but women bring skills to STEM that men can't.

We are lateral thinkers which means we can sometimes come up with very innovative solutions to problems. I have heard many men in the profession say that women bring a whole new aspect to their team and so industry is crying out for more of us to join.

Favorite website/app:
I love Appy-geek. It is an app for Android and iPhone which gives you all the latest technology news in one place. It has an alerts feature so when an article on something you are interested in becomes available you know about it straight away.

Twitter: @IgorinaJP

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STEMinist Profile: Jarita C. Holbrook, Researcher

Oct 08 2012 Published by under Uncategorized


Jarita C. Holbrook, Researcher
Women and Gender Studies at UCLA

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My career is really two stages if not three. I hold degrees in physics, astronomy, and astrophysics through my doctorate. At that point in time, I wanted to be an astrophysicist but by the time I finished my PhD, I had changed my mind.

The next stage of my career has been as a social scientist focused on the links between humans and the night sky: Cultural Astronomy. To make the transition from physical science to social science was not easy! I had to learn a new language and way of approaching and analyzing data.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The third stage of my career is that I am a filmmaker! When I am making documentary films I focus on minority astronomers and astrophysicists. Being a cultural astronomer takes me to amazing places and I talk about the sky and gather information about the sky from everyone I meet; when I am making a film I follow astronomers to cool places and focus on them and their research.

Role models/heroes:
I have many great mentors but role models is more difficult: Anthony Aveni added respectability to Cultural Astronomy and his work is amazing. I love the work of filmmaker Julie Dash, but I have never met her. Angela Davis is my role model for how to always be gracious no matter how famous.

Anthropologist Brackette Williams taught me how to undermine my opponents because they are predictable. Finally, former dean of the UA business college Ken Smith taught me some tricks to being an effective academic leader. All of them I consider to be my role models.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I like being able to develop a hypothesis, design a research project to test it, and then to look at my results to see if my original hypothesis was correct. This step 1, step 2, step 3 that you can always fall back on. What I absolutely love is when I am looking for one thing and I discover another thing!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Being an interdisciplinary scientist is difficult because the academy is rigid so everyone wants to fit you into somebody else's box. However, I think that the most exciting work is occurring in the spaces between disciplines.

Career-wise, I have had to compromise and occupy places where I do not fit intellectually, however I have always learned things important to my research from my colleagues in every situation. I have occupied history of science, applied anthropology, Africana studies, and now women and gender studies not to forget physics and astronomy, too.

Favorite website/app:
I have always been a movie person so nothing beats IMDB and their app.

Twitter: @astroholbrook

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STEMinist Profile: Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer, Ph.D. Candidate in Neuroscience

Oct 05 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer_Steminist Profile
Mónica I. Feliú-Mójer

Ph.D. candidate in Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and vice-director of Ciencia Puerto Rico

My Ph.D. program is based at Harvard Medical School and my laboratory is in Massachusetts General Hospital. Ciencia Puerto Rico is the non-profit I co-direct as a volunteer.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I grew up in Vega Alta, a small town in northern Puerto Rico, where nature was my playground, so I was always curious about how the world around me worked, what the biological basis for events that surrounded me was. While I never really had a scientific role model as a child, my parents were always very encouraging of my interest in science.

When I was 11 years old, someone very dear to me was diagnosed with a mental disorder and upon seeing how that person's behavior was changed as a result of this affliction, I began to develop an interest in learning how the brain works and how it leads to behavior.

At the beginning I thought I would become a physician, because I didn't think there were any other career options in science, until my General Biology professor (the very first scientist I ever met) encouraged me to try a summer research program. After that first research experience I was hooked, and I knew that was what I wanted to do: be a researcher.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I have ever worked on is Ciencia Puerto Rico, the non-profit I've volunteered for during the last 6+ years. Ciencia Puerto Rico is a resource and expert network for anyone interested in science and Puerto Rico. Through its online collaborative platform, Ciencia Puerto Rico brings together members of the greater Puerto Rican scientific community and leverages their knowledge to give back to Puerto Rico and help advance science, research and science education in the archipelago.

Ciencia Puerto Rico has given me the opportunity to give back to Puerto Rico; to connect with scientists and individuals with shared interests, background and experiences; and to mentor younger students (from grade school to college) interested in STEM. Moreover, this project has helped me realize the impact of science beyond the bench and the importance of public engagement with science.

Role models and heroes:
There are many people that fit in this category. I would say that everyone that has taken the time to mentor me at different steps of my career and my life. The best advice I ever got is to have multiple mentors, figure out what they do best and how they do it, and learn from that. The support and advice from my mentors has helped me achieve my goals, and they are the reason I want to pay it forward by mentoring others.

Amongst these people, I have to give a special mention to my undergraduate research mentors, Carlos Jiménez-Rivera and Rafael Vázquez Torres, who really helped shape my scientific interests, gave me the first opportunity to think independently, and to explore my capabilities as a scientist to the fullest.

They were always demanding, but loving and encouraging, and frankly made me fall in love with scientific discovery. My Ph.D. advisor, Josh Kaplan, has also been very supportive of my academic and non-academic interests, and has allowed me to grow and mature as a graduate student and a scientist.

I also have to single out the Ciencia Puerto Rico volunteer team. They are a group of professionals highly committed to the organization's mission and to each other. They are a great source of advice, ideas and inspiration, both at the personal and professional level. We are like a family to me and working with them is a privilege.

Last but not least, my family. They have been a constant source of inspiration, support and encouragement.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Nothing compares to the thrill of discovery and of contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Working in STEM has encouraged me to be curious and think outside the box, something that is definitely helpful in the lab and in life. Also, being a scientist has allowed me to meet people from diverse backgrounds and expertise, and that diversity has enriched my life.

Advice for future STEMinists?

  1. Be passionate about what you do.
  2. Keep open to new directions and think outside the box.
  3. Be a leader.
  4. Have multiple mentors.
  5. Don't be afraid to network. You'd be amazed at the unexpectedly great opportunities that arise from networking.
  6. Believe in yourself and be confident.
  7. Don't let people say you can't or that it is too hard to do it, particularly because you are woman. I was once part of a panel and someone asked me if I ever felt at disadvantage because I was a double minority in science (a woman and Hispanic). My response: No, because I never let that define me. I've never seen myself as a Hispanic woman scientist; I am a scientist that happens to be a Hispanic woman. The way I see it, being a Hispanic woman is an advantage rather than a disadvantage, because of the diverse set of skills, experiences and knowledge that I can bring to the table.
  8. Work hard.
  9. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
  10. Always be curious.

Favorite website or app:
My email! It is an important tool for work, to stay in touch, network. Twitter is my one-stop for news about science, current affairs and issues that I care about. Facebook allows me to keep in touch with family and friends.

Twitter: @moefeliu
Site: www.cienciapr.org

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STEMinist Profile: Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Science Writer and Blogger

Oct 04 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Arielle Duhaime-Ross
Arielle Duhaime-Ross

Science, Health and Environmental reporting masters student, Science Writer and Blogger
New York University, SalamanderHours.com

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Very early on, I developed a fascination with animals, especially amphibians and reptiles. As a child, I devoured books about the world's most poisonous snakes, and always clamoured for the television to be tuned into shows like the "Crocodile Hunter" on the Discovery channel. I would proclaim to anyone who would show an interest that I was destined to become a herpetologist. Of course, I would later realize that I was better suited to writing about science as opposed to actually performing scientific experiments, but my fascination for all things STEM continues to grow.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph in zoology. For my honours thesis, which I am hoping to publish soon, I studied the sensory determinants that guide the behaviour of the red-backed salamander (Plethodon cinereus) during conspecific interactions. I tried to determine if and how olfactory cues interact with visual cues to provoke a territorial response in the salamanders during their interactions with each other. It was pretty amazing to get to know the behaviour of this amphibian on such an intimate level, especially given its well-documented territoriality.

Role models/heroes:
I am especially appreciative of the work of the prominent science writers of our time. I find journalists like David Dobbs, who wrote a wonderful piece entitled "The Science of Success" for The Atlantic in 2010, and Deborah Blum, who is the author of many a popular science book, especially inspiring.

But in truth, the person that has inspired me the most throughout my life is my grandmother, Mariette Dessureault-Duhaime. Thanks to her, the word "feminist" and all its implications were always cast in a positive light in my household. She taught all her grandchildren that fighting for gender equality was a worthwhile and critical battle to wage, and she did so joyfully throughout her life.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I never wanted to stop learning, and being a science writer means that I will never have to. The feeling I get from reading a study about, say, a faster way of DNA barcoding various plants and animals, or a new HIV treatment is indescribable. The only way I can find tranquility is by putting that excitement (or skepticism) into words, and sharing it. Discovering new concepts and ideas every single day is a fantastic way to go through life, and that's why I love what I do.

Advice for future STEMinists?
I am still at the very beginning of my career, so I feel rather strange about giving advice. That being said, I think that perseverance is a virtue. The scientific method allows, and even plans for, failure, so you should never let that faze you.

Favorite website/app:
I am a big fan of Knight Science Journalism at MIT Tracker Website. This site is dedicated to peer-reviewing science journalism. It is a great resource for anyone wishing to exercise a more critical eye when reading about new scientific discoveries in the mainstream media.

Website: www.salamanderhours.com
Twitter: @ArielleDRoss

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STEMinist Profile: Carolyn Dougherty, Project Engineer

Oct 03 2012 Published by under Uncategorized


Carolyn Dougherty, Project Engineer
Tata Steel Projects

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
When I was finishing my BA at Berkeley and planning to go into international relations, I stumbled across a serialised version of Harry Harrison's novel Tunnel Through the Deeps. For whatever reason, that book got me interested in civil engineering; I wrote papers on the subject as an undergraduate, then had the epiphany, 'I could write papers about building railways, or I could actually go and BUILD some railways.' When I finished my BA I immediately started university over again, in a couple of years completing a master's degree in civil engineering at Berkeley.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to thank Harry Harrison for inspiring me to become a civil engineer; who knows, if I'd stuck with my original plan to be a diplomat I might be stamping passports in Outer Mongolia by now.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The restoration of Hardwick Park, an 18th century landscape garden near Sedgefield. I was brought in to manage the completion of the work because it had gone over budget and was in danger of not keeping its commitment to the Heritage Lottery Fund. I was able to sort things out and get the restoration work completed; the project and county staff did a beautiful job and the restoration won the Georgian Society award for landscape in 2009.

The park is a fascinating example of a mid 18th century circuit walk garden—its design gives visitors who walk the circuit a very specific emotional experience that resembles going to the theatre, reading a novel or seeing a film. While working on the park I learned a great deal about 18th century landscape design, which opened up a whole new field of knowledge for me; since then I've visited several other similar parks (none as nice as Hardwick!), and I gave a paper on the design of Hardwick at the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies conference in January 2012.

Role models/heroes:
None, I'm afraid—it would be crass to say 'I did it all on my own' since my parents paid for my first degree and supported me sporadically for some time afterward, but my career and my choices have been almost entirely of my own devising, without inspiration from role models or support from mentors. Not recommended!

I will, though, admit some admiration for I. K. Brunel. I'm amazed at how successful he was at talking people into things.

Why do you love working in STEM?
One thing I think is true in STEM that is not, at least not necessarily, true in other kinds of work is that we all understand the importance of interaction and collaboration. I like working in an environment where people routinely help each other, aren't afraid to make (or acknowledge) mistakes, and are accustomed to working as teams.

There are two reasons why engineering offices are like this, I think—first, the kind of work we do is so risky that we just can't afford to cover up or ignore errors—we have to be open and honest about them, while at the same time acknowledging that mistakes are part of the human experience and not criticising or belittling people who make them. Second, there's still a strong apprenticeship/collegial tradition in engineering, and people are used to the experience of routinely and casually teaching and being taught.

Also, being an engineer has provided me all sorts of opportunities that most other jobs wouldn't have—particularly the opportunity to obtain EU citizenship though I was born in California.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don't sell yourself short—you don't have to be perfect to be successful. Spend time with people who appreciate and value what you're interested in and what you do.

Favorite website/app:
I'm going to plug Sydney Padua's Lovelace and Babbage comics here, I think, as of possible interest to readers: http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/

Twitter: @CarolyninYork

2 responses so far

STEMinist Profile: Suzie Sheehy, Research Fellow

Oct 02 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Dr. Suzie Sheehy
Research Fellow

I work in the Intense Beams Group of the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC) based at STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory where I am supported by a Royal Commission for the Great Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellowship.

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I find it hard to narrow it down to one particular moment. Lots of people say "it was my teacher" or "I looked through a telescope for the first time and just knew!" but it isn't like that for me. I don't remember the point when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in STEM, I had a lot of interests when I was younger and I was as interested in musical theatre as I was in science! My careers advisors in high school told me I could do anything I wanted for a career—in a way, that was quite empowering.

My choice of subjects at university (where I started out doing a double degree in both Engineering and Science) was based on what I was good at and what I thought would leave as many doors open as possible. Only in second year Physics did I realise that I might be able to pursue a career in research—I still remember when one day I asked a lecturer a question about what he'd shown us and he said "we don't know, actually—that's my research, I'm trying to figure it out." I had some great lecturers who encouraged me to pursue that curiosity. So I guess it was when I realised that physics doesn't have all the answers that I finally got interested!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I've worked on is called 'EMMA', which stands for the Electron Machine for Many Applications. It's a new type of particle accelerator which I refer to as a 'rock-star accelerator' because the way it is designed breaks a couple of really important rules that accelerator experts like to stick to.

I think it's a cool project because it's the first of this kind in the world and many people in the field doubted it would work. During my PhD I got to control the machine hands-on during experimental shifts (not many people can say they've run a particle accelerator, even a small one!) Oh, and it really does work!

Role models/heroes:
Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell is definitely a role model for me, she is one of the most respected physicists of our time and meeting and getting to know her a bit during my PhD in Oxford was really inspiring. I also have to say that a number of the London 2012 athletes are also my role models, Mo Farah, Jess Ennis, and loads of others who have proven that if you put in the hard work and have the right support you will see results.

I'm a runner too and training for my first half marathon earlier this year taught me a lot about hard work and dedication, which is now crossing back over into my life as a scientist. If I'm stuck with a problem I now tell myself "if you can run for over 20km you can do this too!", it's very motivating!

Why do you love working in STEM?
There are so many things to love about it! One of my old high school friends recently summed it up nicely for me when she said "While the rest of us sell people things they don't need or spend our lives doing something which will be easily forgotten, you spend your days pushing back the boundaries of human knowledge. In my job I might make a difference to a few people's lives but imagine the difference you can make—it's practically limitless. You have the most amazing job." I was totally humbled.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Do what inspires you and play to your strengths. If you're anything like me you probably have lots of different interests – so don't forget you can combine them in surprising ways! For example, I'd always had an interest in theatre and as a scientist I use my stage presence and vocal techniques all the time when giving public lectures and science shows for schools.

Also, don't be afraid of doing things differently. I approach my research in a slightly different way to the rest of my research group and it took me ages to realise that it's OK, in fact, it's really valuable to have members of a team with different approaches!

Favorite website/app:
I'm a little bit obsessed with Pinterest at the moment—I've been using it to put together ideas for decorating my new house, finding yummy things to cook and even, occasionally, ideas for science demonstrations or interesting bits and pieces.

I'm also loving RunKeeper—it's where I store all my running data so I can check out the statistics like my pace and heart rate and see my improvement, it keeps me motivated.

Twitter: @suziesheehy
Website: www.suziesheehy.co.uk

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STEMinist Profile: Kim Arcand, Science Outreach Coordinator

Oct 01 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

Kim Arcand_Steminist Profile

Name: Kim Arcand

Occupation/Job Title:
Science outreach and visualization coordinator for high-energy astrophysics
Newbie co-author (“Your Ticket to the Universe” coming out April 2013)

Organization:
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
When I was little, every year I would pick a new career, and they all had something in common: science. Nurse, doctor, astronaut, environmental scientist, veterinarian, microbiologist. My parents were supportive, and each Christmas there would be some special gift, a chemistry set, a microscope, a stellarium. I loved science, or what I thought of as science: the idea of discovering something new, of figuring out puzzles, of contributing to people's lives in some significant way. That first crush never went away.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
It’s hard to pick just one! Can I have two?  I have to start off with the Chandra X-ray Observatory. It's an engineering and scientific marvel. A sister telescope to Hubble, Chandra orbits the Earth out to about 1/3 of the distance to the Moon. The phenomena it studies are exotic – black holes, exploding stars, huge clusters of galaxies to name just a few. And the incredibly beautiful images and the discoveries they lead to are awe-inspiring[1].

Working for Chandra led me down a new path in scientific outreach. I organized a project called "From Earth to the Universe[2]" that brought astronomical discoveries into unique locations – picture large images of planets, nebulas and galaxies set up in public parks, metro stations, shopping malls, art festivals, and even prisons. My colleagues and I created a framework for organizers around the world to easily adapt the free materials for an exhibit in their desired locale.

We started out hoping for a couple dozen exhibits that would be run during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. We ended up with about 1,000 different sites all over the world, on every continent except Antarctica and translated in over 40 languages. Some of the exhibits are still ongoing today. We could never have personally disseminated astronomy to so many people, but by enabling others we were able to reach exponentially more people.

Role models and heroes:
My mom. Growing up, I watched her juggle kids and family, going back to school for nursing, and working the late shift as a waitress. I would sit near her as she did her anatomy homework on the dining room table, or go with her to the local community college to buy the mammoth-sized books for her class. She made it seem completely normal and doable. I secretly hope that my own son and daughter might feel even a tenth of that for me some day.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Our collective scientific viewpoint is always changing, as new discoveries are made, old discoveries shift, and cultural frameworks evolve. So we're always learning and adapting to new things. It’s exciting to work in a field that is so dynamic, and that touches everything, everyone, everyday in some way. In my day-to-day work, I am most directly involved in astronomy, of course, but science is so much bigger than one specific field. There are connections everywhere.

My colleagues and I are just about to launch a new project that celebrates that fact.  “Here, There, and Everywhere[1]” will explore the connections that exist between the seemingly incongruous - how are a bumblebee, farmer and starburst galaxy related? Can you think of how a neon sign in Las Vegas, an Aurora in Norway, and an exploding star light years away from us might be somehow connected?  The intent of the program is to help to demonstrate the universality of physical laws and the connections between our everyday world and the Universe as a whole.

[1] http://hte.si.edu (Goes live on August 27, 2012)

Advice for future STEMinists?
Find something you're passionate about. Your passion will help you succeed, even if it's something that's difficult. I don’t know how many people can say that science is an easy subject in college, but it wasn't easy for me. At university, I would breeze through my literature courses (I was and still am a Jane Austen junkie), but struggle in my science classes.

I managed to get through the physics, chemistry, microbiology and anatomy courses, but I can vividly recall getting a D in genetics. I had never gotten a D before, and it made me doubt my abilities and that I should even continue with a degree in science, never mind a career.

But I stuck with the degree in biology, rounded out my skill set in computer science to be safe, and eventually found a niche that I was very comfortable in – communicating science with others, and researching how people respond to certain aspects of science (mostly imagery). I had the background to feel at home in the scientific content, but also an understanding that science can be alienating, or frightening, or just plain boring to some.

And to me that is such an exciting opportunity. How can we help others find their niche in science? I'm interested not only in people who might want to pursue a hobby or career in science. I also want to help foster the larger population's perspective on and awareness of science as a whole.

Favorite website or app:
For science sites, I'm in love with the Encyclopedia of Life and for leisure apps, I’m addicted to Brainium's Spider Solitaire, the 2 suit game.

Twitter: @kimberlykowal
Site: http://yourtickettotheuniverse.com/

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Women in STEM

Oct 01 2012 Published by under Uncategorized

My name is Ann Hoang and I am thrilled to kick off October with the opportunity to guest blog here at Scientopia. In 2010 I founded a website called STEMinist, which focuses on women in Science, Tech, Engineering and Math. Over the next two weeks I hope to share with you our most popular feature: profiles of STEMinists doing awesome things.

While the issues surrounding women in STEM are complex and multi-layered, my goal with STEMinist has been and continues to be straightforward: visibility. It is visibility in the form of presenting news and topics that otherwise get lost in the torrent of social media, visibility achieved by featuring women in diverse STEM fields and stages of their career, and the visibility that comes about through highlighting the voices of an underrepresented community.

Please feel free to suggest topics and STEMinists to feature in upcoming profiles!

You can find us on the web, Twitter and Facebook.

As for myself, I am a Software Engineer for a research group at the University of Oregon, where I lead a team that builds applications used by schools to manage their Positive Behavior Support implementations.

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