Dr. Frances Kelsey


Dr. Frances Kelsey was a Canadian-American pharmacologist who worked as a reviewer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after an impressive career as a faculty member at the University of Chicago and University of South Dakota.

At the FDA, Dr. Kelsey was a member of a very small team whose responsibility it was to review drug applications from pharmaceutical companies, placing a much needed emphasis on evidence-based data. During this time, Dr. Kelsey repeatedly blocked the application for a drug called thalidomide, which was already widely used in Europe. Drawing on her past research of finding evidence of certain drugs that crossed the placental barrier, she was not convinced that thalidomide was safe for pregnant women, especially with the data (or lack of) that was being presented. Despite growing pressure to ram the drug application through (drug company’s bottom line $ of course being their most important worry), Dr. Kelsey and her team stuck to their guns and refused to let a drug with possible serious side-effects into the U.S. market. In the 1960s, births of many deformed infants in Europe started to be linked to thalidomide, and it became widely known that Dr. Kelsey prevented a disastrous medical crisis in the U.S.

In 1962, she became the second woman to be presented the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy. Dr. Kelsey retired from the FDA in 2005 after 45 years of service.

Thank you to Sarah (a current #WCW in STEM) for sharing the below video and putting Dr. Kelsey on my radar!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez


A good follow up to the last Woman “Crushin’ It” #WCW post about the major uptick of female political candidates: 28 year old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez solidly beat out 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley (the 4th ranked House Democrat) in the New York primary. If elected in November (she is favored to win against the Republican challenger), she will become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Despite being out-raised 10-1 and repeatedly referred to in the press as “Joe Crowley’s opponent”, Alexandria was able to spearhead an aggressive and successful grassroots strategy. November is going to be crazy.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Millennial beats veteran Democrat

Congress, 2018


Center for American Women and Politics, Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University

Shout-out to ALL the women who are running for Congress in November. As of now: 476 women have filed to run for the House in 2018 (compared to 272 who filed in 2016). Such a cool stat!


Marta Minujin


Marta Minujin is an Argentine artist who was recently awarded the Americas Society Cultural Achievement Award this past March, celebrating her long career in the Latin American and Global art scenes. She got on my radar recently when I saw someone post a beautiful picture of her The Parthenon of Books exhibit that took place last summer.

Parthenon of Books

This exhibit was located in Kassel, Germany on the site of a Nazi book burning. Comprising of over 100,000 once-banned books shaped as a replica of the historic Athens Parthenon, it served as a powerful symbol against censorship. It was the second time she created this replica, the first being in 1983 in Buenos Aires using books banned by the military dictatorship of Argentina.

Tammie Jo Shults


Former Navy pilot (reaching the rank of lieutenant commander) after being turned down by the Air Force,  Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female fighter pilots in the Navy three decades ago, flying the F/A-18 Hornet in an time when women could not go on combat missions.

Tammie eventually side-stepped into commercial flying, becoming a part-time pilot at Southwest Airlines. On April 17, 2018, the passengers of Flight 1380 were lucky enough to have her in the cockpit. The engine failed on the Boeing 737, flinging debris from a fan blade into the plane. Tammie was calm and collected, making an emergency landing.

Desiree Linden & Sarah Sellers

Those who followed the results of this week’s Boston Marathon probably already knew this was coming: FIRST US WOMAN’S WINNER SINCE 1985!

Desiree Linden



Such a huge congratulations to Desiree Linden, who battled through some really nasty Boston weather to win the marathon. Trudging through the cold and slowing down so her teammate could have a restroom break, Desiree cruised to win by more than 4 minutes.

“Honestly at mile 2, 3, 4 I didn’t feel like I was gonna even make it to the finish line,” Linden said, via Roxanna Scott of USA Today. “I told her [Flanagan] in the race, I said if there’s anything I can do to help you out, let me know because I might just drop out.”

Sarah Sellers


You have to qualify to run in the Boston Marathon, so Sarah Sellers had to have at least one marathon under her belt before the main event. It turns out, one was all she needed. Completing in just her second marathon, Sarah was the runner up. She ran the race without sponsors, and only signed up because her younger brother was also racing. The Arizona nurse plans to use the $75,000 prize money to pay down student loan debt.

Naomi Wadler and Sister Jean

I missed last week, so we’re double-dipping this week with two outstanding #WCWs.

Naomi Wadler

I am so proud of the students all over the country that are stepping up and driving the national conversation around gun violence and gun culture in the US. I am especially impressed how the affluent kids from Douglas are recognizing and owning that the national stage they have isn’t often afforded to those who have to live with gun violence every day (mostly those that are Persons of Color and from poorer neighborhoods). These kids have chosen to share the stage and raise those voices. Enter Naomi Wadler.

Naomi was the youngest speaker at the March for Our Lives protest in Washington D.C. At 11 years old, Naomi gave a passionate speech about how women of color are disproportionately affected by violence, and yet get little to no media attention.

Sister Jean

Sister Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeean!

This years March Madness had a lot of action, a lot of upsets, and a lot of me gloating because I won my groups bracket challenge for the second year in a row. But my favorite story of the tournament was everyone fascination with Sister Jean, the 98 year old Catholic sister who has been chaplain to the Loyola of Chicago Men’s basketball team since 1994. Beloved by the students on campus, Sister Jean was a principal, coach, and teacher at schools in California and Illinois before being hired at Mundelein College, an independent women’s college that eventually merged with Loyola. For 81 years, she’s been a sister in the religious order of the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin (BVM).


Sheila Minor Huff


REALLY cool story about how an Illustrator working on a children’s book took to Twitter to help identify the only woman at the 1971 International Conference on the Biology of Whales (who happened to also be the only person “not identified”)

Spoiler Alert – the woman (Sheila Minor Huff), ended up being really dope.

The identity of the lone woman scientist in this 1971 photo was a mystery. Then Twitter cracked the case.