Posts Tagged ‘Women in Science’
The University of North Dakota’s Department of Chemistry is hosting its annual Abbott Chemistry Lecture this week. Dr. Debra Rolison of the US Naval Research Laboratory is giving a public presentation on Thursday evening, followed by a lunch time presentation on Friday in the department. Details follow for the Thursday lecture and you can find more details on the department’s website.
Creating Change in Scientific Institutions through Subversion, Revolution (Title IX!), and Climate Change
The slow crawl at which research-intensive universities diversify their faculty is a national disgrace in that they actively recruit for students that reflect the face of America. Similar difficulties are apparent among the scientific staff of national/federal laboratories. But how can one person change the world of science? Subvert the standard operating procedure. Create a microclimate that shows―over time―how new patterns of operation and inclusiveness yield productive, innovative science. Use the scientific capital and street credentials accrued over time, thanks to the humane microclimate and research productivity of one’s team, to challenge the status quo with reasoned and bold arguments for change. Remember the importance of uppity behavior and applying “tipping point” mechanisms to move beyond initial reactions of dismissal to―over time―accepted inevitability (such as greeted my audacious suggestion in March 2000 to withhold federal funds from non-diversified chemistry departments through application of Title IX). Ask the leaders of our S&T institutions the following: how good can American science, engineering, mathematics, and technology (STEM) be when we are missing more than two-thirds of the talent? Learn to demand that our world of science be one that truly relishes the talent innate to all of humanity for science and discovery.
Dr. Rolison heads the Advanced Electrochemical Materials section at the NRL, where her research focuses on multifunctional nanoarchitectures for such rate‑critical applications as catalysis, energy storage and conversion, and sensors. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Chemistry at the University of Utah (2000–present). She was a Faculty Scholar at Florida Atlantic University (1972–1975) and received a Ph.D. in Chemistry (UNC–CH, 1980).
Dr. Rolison is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Women in Science, the Materials Research Society (Inaugural Class), and the American Chemical Society and received the 2011 ACS Award in the Chemistry of Materials, the 2011 Hillebrand Prize of the Chemical Society of Washington, and the 2012 C.N. Reilley Award of the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. Her editorial advisory board service includes Analytical Chemistry, Langmuir, Journal of Electroanalytical Chemistry, Advanced Energy Materials, Nano Letters, the Encyclopedia of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and Annual Review in Analytical Chemistry.
When not otherwise bringing the importance of nothing and disorder to materials chemistry, Rolison writes and lectures widely on issues affecting women (and men!) in science, including proposing Title IX assessments of science and engineering departments. She is the author of over 200 articles and holds 24 patents.
Dr Rolison’s talk is Thursday, April 25th at 7pm in Abbott Hall 101. All are welcome and a reception will follow.
UND’s Women in Science group and The Graduate School invite you to a WIS event tomorrow focusing on the grad school experience. Check out the flyer for details!
A small, but dedicated group gathered in Gamble Hall yesterday for the first business meeting of UND’s Women in Science group. Largely a student lead organization, UND WIS has a faculty advisory committee committed to supporting and guiding the group.
Established about a year ago, the UND WIS has hosted several events aimed to promote it’s mission of networking, mentorship and support to all female students in the sciences. Last semester, a graduate student panel discussed the trials and tribulations of graduate school life; a faculty panel talked about their various career pathways to academia through the sciences; and a ‘pre-finals’ chill out social allowed students to come together to relax and network at the end of a busy semester. The group also hosted a fun Nightlife “craft” event earlier in the year to invite the student community to participate in some fun hands-on activities like making slime.
Having attended a few of these events, it is clear that the group is gaining momentum but would like to get the word out to more students, and invite more participation. Elections will be coming up in April, so there are opportunities for involvement.
After a brief Treasurer’s Report (it has only been a year), discussion lead to upcoming event opportunities (invited speakers, outreach, community association with similar groups like the AAUW). The next event will be an undergraduate panel on March 1st from 2:45pm in the Badlands Room. Grad students and faculty: if you are mentoring any undergrads in our sciences, you might like to share this information. We keep you posted about other events and business meetings here, but if you would like to join their mailing list, send an email to: [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Women In Science will be hosting their first official business meeting this Wednesday 2/8/12 in Gamble Hall Room 380 at 4:00 PM. Please join us if you are interested in the work that Women In Science has done so far and the direction that we are heading toward. Also, please spread the word to any friends or colleagues who you feel would be interested in supporting Women In Science.
On a snowy November day, a group of female science faculty, including our VP for Research, gathered to share their career stories with students and others at the second panel event for the UND Women in Science group. The UND WIS is a student group with a mission to bring together both students and faculty who women in science disciplines to network, support and discuss the challenges and the opportunities they face throughout their careers. The event was co-sponsored by The Graduate School.
Chaired by Dr Rebecca Simmons (Biology), Dr Phyllis Johnson (VP for Research), Dr Phoebe Stubblefield (Anthropology), Dr Susan Ellis-Felege (Biology) and Dr Jody Ralph (Nursing) talked about their sometimes unconventional journeys to academia, and some of the challenges they encountered along the way. The discovery of their chosen discipline ranged from childhood passion to accidental good fortune late in undergrad. There were amusing anecdotes, advice on balancing career and family and the value of good mentorship. Good advice to both undergrads and grads – don’t shy away from tackling the hard classes! Here are a few photos from the event.
Next month, UND WIS is planning an end of semester social event, so watch for details. You can also read some of the contributions made to our blog from various students and faculty for the Women in Science series. If you would like to contribute to the series, contact Susan Caraher in The Graduate School.
Gretchen Mullendore and Rebecca Romsdahl discuss the challenges in being an (overly) supportive mentor.
Please join us for the second in a series of panel sessions organized by UND Women in Science. Our senior scientists will share how they have met challenges and creatively solved problems in their own careers. The panel is open to all, and junior scientists are particularly encouraged to attend.
Tuesday, November 15th
12:30-2:30 River Valley Room, Memorial Union
Panel is from 1:00-2:00 preceded and followed by brief reception and conversation. All are welcome!
Our guest contributor this week is Dr Gretchen Mullendore, Atmospheric Sciences, who answers some questions about mentorship, challenges and the role of women scientists.
As a woman in a scientific discipline, what are some of the challenges you have faced?
I have been lucky to have good teachers and mentors throughout my career, who gave me encouragement and challenged me to grow academically and personally. What has been more difficult is the lack of role models- seeing someone like me in my field. I often had the experience of being the in the gender minority in my college classes. I enjoy collaborating with male colleagues, but I’ve found over the years that my female colleagues provide an important network of support and feedback that is hard to find with a male colleague. My personal goal for the UND Women in Science group is to create a mentoring network on our campus and in our region, so that women scientists- including myself! -will have a greater opportunity to build that network of support.
Do you/how do you think the role of women scientists has changed?
I don’t think the role of women in science has changed. Honestly, I still would like to see more women in decision-making positions. For example: program managers at federal agencies, and director positions at federal and private research labs. As previous bloggers described in their interviews, the drop-off in women in science careers is quite dramatic after the PhD-student/postdoc level. And another major “leak” in the so-called science “pipeline” occurs at the administrative level.
Can you describe your research?
Most of the work I do focuses on understanding cloud-scale dynamics through numerical modeling. Examples of applications of this type of research are: quantifying the amount of chemicals transported from the surface to the stratosphere in severe storms; investigating the role of convectively-generated gravity waves on triggering new convection; and understanding the role of regional lakes (e.g. Upper and Lower Red Lake, Devils Lake) on snow forecasts.
How important is mentorship in the development of young scientists?
Mentorship is very important and young scientists should be encouraged to have several mentors! Mentorship helps in networking, and networking is the best way to learn about opportunities and open doors to new career pathways. There are an incredible number of ways to be successful in science. I think most young scientists think there is one main trajectory to be successful, and that if they step off of that trajectory even a little, they will fail. But many successful scientists have taken more circuitous routes, like taking time off (or working part time) when children were small, or jumping into different fields later in their schooling or career.
Do you feel there are still stereotypes surrounding women in the sciences?
Most women in science, including myself, have anecdotal tales about having to deal with negative stereotypes, either from family, or colleagues, or the media. But the impact is a difficult thing to quantify, and the power of these negative stereotypes, like “girls can’t do math” or “male students are better with computers”, is often downplayed. I highly recommend reading this blog post about a 15-minute writing exercise tested in University of Colorado physics classes that closed the performance gender gap. This writing exercise to build self-confidence and self-worth worked to improve female performance better than even extra study groups. This result suggests that the primary element holding women back in scientific pursuits is not academic capability, but the fear that the negative stereotypes pervasive in society are correct and they are therefore doomed to fail. As the blog referenced above says, it’s only by changing the environment in which learning happens that the gender gap can be eliminated.
As a postscript to Dr Mullendore’s interview, the UND Women in Science group held a social and panel last week to discuss and share thoughts on the graduate school experience. Here are a few photos from the afternoon!
UND Women in Science (UND WIS) will host a panel on Wednesday about what it’s like to be a graduate student.
The event starts with a social at 3:45 p.m.; the panel takes place 4 to 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19, in the Red River Valley Room, Memorial Union. The event is free and open to the public.
“We’re really excited to announce this first of three panels we’re sponsoring,” said UND WIS founder and President Korey Southerland, a McNair scholar who’s majoring in political science and environmental geography and minoring in mathematics. “Our first panel will involve graduate student women across campus talk about their stories, struggles, and successes as women in science graduate students. However, though this event seems focused on graduate-level women, I believe it is important for all graduate level and undergraduate level students to attend.”
“A part of being successful in college is knowing about what your peers are thinking about, what makes them want to be academic successes, and what they are passionate about,” said Southerland, a native of the Minneapolis area and among the first in her family to go to college. “This panel will give everyone the chance to learn what graduate-level women are thinking about and the experiences they have had. As an undergraduate woman who is currently applying to graduate school, I see this as the perfect time to learn more about the experiences I may have in graduate school and what it feels like to be a woman in science seeking a graduate degree.”
UND Women in Science Vice President Lisa Burnette, a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, emphasized that the goal of this and future UND WIS-sponsored panels is “to showcase the incredible scientists we have all over campus and provide an opportunity for people to meet and interact with each other.”
“We want to encourage everyone to reach out and make connections because it will be those types of connections that will help a scientific career blossom,” Burnette said.
The panel is mainly targeted at undergraduate students who are thinking about going to graduate school and the graduate school process, according to UND WIS Secretary Victoria Maneev, a first-year master’s degree student in counseling psychology.
Nicole Haese is a graduate student and is also the Treasurer of the UNDWIS student group.
What is your field of science?
I am graduate student in the Microbiology and Immunology department, my research focuses around the subject of Immunology.
Can you describe your research?
I started out my research focusing on autoimmunity and ways to prevent the body from seeing itself as foreign. Specifically I am interested in the role immature dendritic cells play in tolerizing the immune system to antigens. It has been shown in the past that the protection conferred by immature dendritic cells is specific to the disease causing antigen. That is the antigen that the body attacks as foreign and causes diseases, if you treat immature dendritic cells with the antigen and give them to a mouse with the autoimmune disease, it has the potential to decrease the severity or delay the onset of symptoms. Previous work done in my lab suggested that the tolerance induced by immature dendritic cells may be antigen non-specific, and that protection can be induced by presentation of a tissue-associated antigen. I am working on further developing this idea by obtaining data from another autoimmune model.
Another project I am working on is developing a hybridoma to produce a monoclonal antibody using the B-cells from goose blood. The reason for using goose blood is to make a hybridoma that secretes IgY, an avian antibody. IgY is the primary avian antibody, it is similar to human IgG. The advantages of using IgY are that it does not interact with Fc receptors on host cells therefore activation of complement and rheumatoid factor are not an issue. In other words, IgY does not have to be humanized before being used in humans. Also, IgY has a higher avidity for antigens than IgG, meaning it will bind mores sites on an antigen. Right now I am working on the protocol for making such a hybridoma. It is thought that in the future antibodies will be able to be made against toxins produced by bacteria, and also viruses.
How important is mentorship in the development of young scientists?
I think that mentorship is important in the development of young scientists because science is not just about learning the information and taking a test. Science is about applying knowledge, which at times can be difficult. Looking at it from a research point of view, mentorship is important to help prevent the small bumps in the road from causing huge meltdowns. A majority of the time things do not work and it is much easier to keep going when there is someone to turn to, who has been through the same thing, that can say it will be okay and things will work out. There are also so many different aspects of life that are affected by research, personal life, social life, family life, and personal sanity. The library does not have a book to teach how to deal with those parts of life in the science field. One of the best ways to learn about how to deal with the non-science part of being a scientist is by talking with other people. When I started my graduate work I had a million questions, and I felt lost for quite a while. I think that mentorship would have helped me with the transition into becoming a graduate student and will help with future transitions. All in all, mentorship can provide a source of support, information, or just friendship to young scientists.
Do you feel there are still stereotypes surrounding women in the sciences?
Yes, I feel that there are stereotypes surrounding women in the sciences. I grew up in a very small farming town. One of the main career choices was agriculture. I grew up on a farm, but sure did not have the desire to spend the rest of my life raising cows and driving a tractor. There was not much of a focus on science in my high school years of education, but I feel that it was somewhat biased. In high school, all of the math and sciences teachers were male. Some of the teachers assumed that girls did not have much interest in science. I do not think the message was women are not as good at science and math, it was that, women belonged in a different field, maybe they could be a nurse, but that was it. I fell in love with science during my freshman year in high school. My freshman biology class was taught by a new teacher, one of his first teaching jobs. Most people did not like him as a teacher because he made us work really hard, but I thought it was all interesting. I became especially interested in genetics and how easy it was to see the connection between science and human life. This is what inspired me to get my undergraduate degree in cytogenetic technology.
Looking at the stereotypes of women in science at thing point in my career, the view is different. I do not think that the overall message is that women are unable to succeed in science. There are definitely a lot of female graduate students in the sciences, there are plenty of assistant and associated professors that are females, but there are not as many heads of departments or higher that are women. At some point in their career most women make a choice to either have a family or not, and I think that plays a big role in the lower numbers of women holding higher offices. It is no secret that being a head of a department and raising a family both take a lot of time, and sometimes sacrificing one or the other is not worth it.
What barriers have you had to overcome?
I have been fortunate in that I have not had to overcome many barriers to get to my current position. I had very supportive parents who pushed me to be successful and do whatever it is I wanted to do. During my undergraduate education I had a very very supportive research advisor who provided me with many opportunities to succeed in my research. She inspired me to pursue my PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and continues to be a person I turn to.