“Everybody relax, I’m a scientist”
Starting the New Year right with my favorite Woman “Crushin'” It ever, Alyssa!
Alys has had a pretty eventful couple of months. On December 14, 2018 she was officially presented her PhD from the University of Chicago’s program of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. The first picture above is from her defense, “Investigating molecular mechanisms and dynamics of Ena/VASP and other actin binding proteins”. Celebrations were in order (2nd picture), but not before practicing safe science.
While finishing up the PhD, Alyssa was traveling back and forth from Chicago to Cleveland, interviewing for careers after graduation. After a lot of miles, many phone and in person interviews and follow-ups, I’m very happy to share that Alys has accepted a Data Scientist role at the wonderful company Smucker’s!
Tackling all of this while also navigating the logistics of moving back to Cleveland is just one example (of many) of how Alys is able to do anything she sets her mind to do. Her commitment to being the best version of herself is what I admire most about her, and I’m so excited to see her continue to “Crush” it on the regular.
From 1901 to 2017, only 48 women have been awarded a Nobel Prize (compared to 892 men). The 2018 announcements are still coming in, but so far it’s looking like a good year for women in STEM.
Donna Strickland became just the 3rd woman to receive the Nobel in Physics (the last was 55 years ago). Sharing the honor this year with two others, Strickland’s work with lasers earned her the nod.
“Unlike her fellow winners, Strickland did not have a Wikipedia page at the time of the announcement. A Wikipedia user tried to set up a page in May, but it was denied by a moderator with the message: “This submission’s references do not show that the subject qualifies for a Wikipedia article.” Strickland, it was determined, had not received enough dedicated coverage elsewhere on the internet to warrant a page” –One Wikipedia Page Is a Metaphor for the Nobel Prize’s Record With Women
Frances H. Arnold
Frances H. Arnold became the 5th woman to receive the Nobel in Chemistry (like Strickland, sharing the award with others). Arnold received the nod for her work in with the directed evolution of enzymes.
“I think of what I do as copying nature’s design process,” Dr. Arnold said in an interview with NobelPrize.org. “All this tremendous beauty and complexity of the biological world all comes about to this one simple beautiful design algorithm.” – Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to a Woman for the Fifth Time in History
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!
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.
Luciana Vega is American Girls’s 2018 Girl of the Year, inspiring young girls to aim for the stars and pursue STEM. A Chilean-American girl, Luciana’s story has her going to Space Camp and hoping to one day make it to Mars with NASA.
To get things just right, American Doll collaborated with some stellar badasses of the industry:
- Megan McArthur Behnken (astronaut)
- Ellen Stofan (former NASA chief scientist)
- Deborah Barnhart (US Space and Rocket Center CEO and Executive Director)
- Maureen O’Brien (manager of strategic alliances at NASA)
“I think a lot of girls are sometimes intimidated by STEM careers because they think they have to be perfect in math or the top of their class. But what you really need to have is determination, the spirit to pick yourself up when you make a mistake and keep going. I really think it’s that determination, that will, the ability to come back from failure, that are the most important characteristics. I hope that girls who read these books are inspired by these tales of failure but persistence.” -Ellen Stofan
Cards Against Humanity (yeah, them) have funded a full-tuition scholarship for women pursuing an undergraduate STEM degree. The deadline for submissions is quickly approaching (December 11th), so spread the word to your favorite Women “Crushin’ it in STEM” Wednesday friends and family! Link below:
Fan of Card’s Against Humanity but don’t know any baddass women pursuing a STEM degree? The scholarship is paid for by their Science Pack Expansion (available here)
Are you someone of high taste and think CAH is a terrible, terrible game whose makers and players should be ashamed of themselves and would never buy the game, let alone an expansion? Maybe instead look into DonorsChoose.org, who CAH and the Scholarship Fund donated $5,000 dollars this year to help fund STEM projects and field trips for classrooms across the country.