This past October the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to two women, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna. The last time a woman was awarded a Nobel Prize in STEM (without sharing it with a man) was when Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize in Physiology of Medicine in 1983. Thirty-seven years is a long time to share the spotlight with men, so it seems like the perfect time to talk about some of the kick-ass women in STEM who deserve all the recognition.
Women have been shattering the glass ceiling in the STEM fields for years. Does the name Christina Koch sound familiar to you? On February 6, 2020 she broke the record for the longest single space flight for a woman after staying in space for 328 days. While we are talking about space, Jessica Meir served as a Flight Engineer and conducted the first three all women space walks with Christina Koch!
While these women were busy exploring space, others decided to study the vastness of the ocean. Deemed a pioneer of blue whale research, Asha de Vos opened doors and created her own niche specialty in the marine biology field as the first Sri Lankan with a Ph.D. in marine mammal research. She believes wholeheartedly that, “We forget that nature doesn’t need us. We need nature.”
Marine biologist, Ayana Elizabeth is a trailblazer for ocean conservation. She is the founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm rooted in social justice and focused on finding solutions regarding ocean conservation. Elizabeth is just one example of how women in STEM can influence not just their scientific field, but extend into areas of government and policy making.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded an incredible amount of attention and research, and with the constant influx of information it can be really difficult to decipher not only what is important, but also what is even true in the first place! To help us understand what in the world is happening (literally), two different women scientists have utilized Instagram to help us out. Infectious disease researcher, Laurel Bristow, has used Instagram story highlights to share information about COVID-19 that is easy to understand and somewhat humorous as well. From vaccine trial updates,mask wearing, and pregnancy in regard to COVID-19, she has covered it all and also links articles if you are curious to learn more!
Microbiologist and infectious disease epidemiologist Jessica Malaty Rivera’s Instagram is everything if you zone out whenever people start talking about data. Not only does she love data, but she also loves to interpret it for us, so that us non-data-loving people can understand all the numbers we see on the news. Her work in COVID-19 research has led her to become the Communication Lead at the COVID Tracking Project. If you are like me and need help to understand the COVID-19 news and ever changing data give these kick-ass women scientists a follow @kinggutterbaby and @jessicamalatyrivera.
Some other kick-ass women in STEM aren’t so far away and can be found right here on campus at SPU. Dr. Minhee Lee, a chemistry professor at SPU has done extensive research in her field. As a graduate research assistant at Columbia University she actually designed fluorescent dopamine mimics so that we can see neurotransmission in real time.
Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about the women mathematicians of the world! Dr. Robbin O’Leary teaches every level of math at SPU and got her Ph.D. in Number Theory. In addition to teaching incredibly complex classes she also has been published multiple times in Transactions of the American Mathematical Society and National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and has been asked to guest lecture at a variety of conferences.
The Biology department at SPU is chock full of amazing women in STEM but if I wrote about all of them this article would be way too long, so I had to limit myself to just one. Dr. Cara Wall-Scheffler primarily teaches upper division biology classes regarding human physiology or human evolution, both of which coincide with her research. She has published numerous papers regarding the evolution of sexual dimorphism as it relates to thermoregulation and locomotion. Seattle Pacific University is full of amazingly intelligent women in STEM to look up to and learn from.
For far too long men have hogged the spotlight in STEM. The women I have written about, although absolutely incredible, are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to all the revolutionary steminists in the world. Who knows, maybe 10 or 20 years from now, a SPU student will be writing an article about women in STEM and she will write about you and all you have accomplished as a kick-ass woman in STEM.