Women in STEM – Kirsty Nash

s-ladyologyKirsty Nash – Research Fellow at The Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? My research fits into three main themes.  The first is the resilience of marine social-ecological systems.  Second, I study the functional and spatial ecology of fishes – so the roles fish play within their ecosystem and how they move and use space.  Finally, I have an interest in small-scale fisheries and how we can most effectively monitor the effects of these fisheries on both ecological communities and human health.
  • What was your best day of science? The first journal article I ever read was in Marine Ecology Progress Series in the library at Southampton University when I was doing my Undergraduate degree – I remember feeling overawed by the thought of having to study from journals.  My best day in science was when I published my first journal article – it was in Marine Ecology Progress Series!
  • What was your worst day in science? In the first 6 months of my PhD I let the stress of it all get to me. I think the transition from a structured environment to a research PhD is quite hard – suddenly you are in charge of your own research, no one is telling you what to do, although there are people guiding you.  A turning point for me was reading an article about the importance of feeling stupid to do great research: http://jcs.biologists.org/content/121/11/1771  It helped me put things into perspective!

KLN Photo.jpgDr. Kirsty Nash is a Research Fellow at The Centre for Marine Socioecology, University of Tasmania. Follow along with her science on Twitter at @NasherK.

This photo is from her PhD graduation at James Cook University in Australia.

  • What are you studying at university? My undergraduate degree was in Oceanography with Marine Biology in the UK.  I then completed a Masters of Applied Science in Tropical Marine Ecology and Fisheries in Australia studying coral disease.  I worked as a field-based lecturer for a number of years and that inspired me to do a Masters of Education by distance learning to support my teaching.  I then went back to a research role, and after a while as a research assistant, I did a PhD in Australia exploring the resilience of coral reef ecosystems.
  • What are some of the highlights of your career so far? The highlights all centre around the interesting places I have been to for field work, the great people I have interacted with and the beautiful coral reefs I have dived on along the way.  For example, recently I went on a field trip to the Philippines – it was to work with two people I had met on my Masters course.  Now one of them works at a research institute in Norway, one works at a university in the Philippines and I work at a university in Australia.  It was so nice to collaborate with friends, but also to see how diverse our paths had been since we had finished our Masters Research.
  • What does your average day look like? There is no such thing as an average day for me!
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job?Love my dive gear!

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab:

  • Where did you grow up? Buckinghamshire in the UK.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? Being outdoors – running, surfing, walking….

kirsty_30july2012In this picture Kirsty is at Lizard Island, Australia where she was looking at herbivorous fish feeding movements on the reefs. She was trying to figure out if the larger fish feed over larger areas -and they do!  This picture was taken after the research group was done with diving for the day, it was low tide and things had been going well – hence time for photos!

  • Do you have any pets? I wish – too much moving to have a pet.
  • Do you have any fun hobbies? I do a bit of printmaking.  Mostly linocuts – it is nice to do something creatively different to science with my brain.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture:

  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? Interest in the topic was my driving force.  I had worked outside academia for a while and hadn’t thought I would do a PhD but then the opportunity presented itself and I found a topic I was really interested in so I went for it.  I wouldn’t have done a PhD if I hadn’t found a subject matter I was passionate about first.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Don’t underestimate the power of background skills – I wanted to be a marine biologist so I concentrated on biology, but mathematics and writing are the core skills of what I do and I had to learn those the hard way – keep going with the basic skills of statistics, writing etc. as they will make it much easier to follow your passion in science.  Also try and gain skills in communication if you can – being a scientist is more and more about communicating what you have done to a broad audience, not just other scientists.  So it is worth spending time learning some media or video skills if you can.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? Because there is a lot of un-tapped potential out there in women who could shape or change STEM in amazing ways but are not getting the support or opportunities or maybe most critically are not recognizing their own potential!
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? Watching the diver in an aquarium tank at the Epcot Centre in Florida – I was 11 and as soon as I found out I could dive and be a marine biologist, I never wavered from that goal.

Here Kirsty is in Seychelles in the Indian Ocean measuring the structural complexity of the reef – so how rough the reef surface is, how many nooks and crannies there are for fish to hide in.

Conception Big Wheel.jpg

  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I was inspired by diving and that led to a passion for science – I wanted to know how things worked underwater, what all the fish were called, how they interacted etc.  So I think my hobby led to a drive to be a scientist, rather than setting out to be a scientist.
  • What was your biggest struggle during your degree? Sitting still at a computer!  I worked outside for a number of years and so becoming fairly sedentary at work was a hard adjustment.  But going on long field trips helps that!
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now? I can’t pick one out, and I often find that my inspiration comes from outside STEM.  I follow ‘Inspiring Women’ on flipboard and delve in when I need some inspiration!

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Fun:

  • What is your favorite book? Hard to pick just one… some top picks are:
    • Science book: A guinea-pig’s history of biology by Jim Endersby
    • Non-fiction: An island to oneself by Tom Neale
    • Fiction: We need to talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Gingernuts
  • What is your favorite cartoon? Not a cartoon fan….
  • What would you listen to while writing? Hackney Colliery Band – keeps me going when I am doing data analysis!
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Photography
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? Little skewers useful for making cheese and pineapple party snacks
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Organisation nut.
  • Any other fun fact about you… I love eating and making ice-cream
  • What color socks are you wearing? Bare feet

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Kirsty on Twitter @NasherK

Kirsty Nash’s Blog: www.kirstynash.comtight-cropped-ladyology-line

 

Women in STEM – Auriel M.V. Fournier

s-ladyologyAuriel M.V. Fournier – PhD Candidate at the Arkansas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit – University of ArkansasTight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? I study wetland management and bird migration.
  • What was your best day of science? Oh that is hard, there have been many good ones. Everytime I get to go out and catch my study species’ is a great day. Last fall I got invited to give a keynote talk about my research, which was pretty awesome.
  • What was your worst day in science? Probably the day a mistake I made killed a bird. I thought I was going to lose my job and never do science again.

profilepicAuriel M.V. Fournier will be defending her PhD in February & has a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management. Follow along with her science at @RallidaeRule on Twitter.

  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job?
    • ATVs
  • What does your average day look like? 9 months of the year I’m in the office every day, arrive around 730, am here until around 5. I work on papers, analyze data, teach some semesters, meet with students and collaborators. The other three months I’m in the field, so I’m working nights doing surveys, and days running my research project.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? Northwest Ohio
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? Scientist
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? Watch TV, crochet, cuddle with my dogs.
  • Do you have any pets? Two dogs, Luna and Nova

These little cuties are named Nova and Luna. Their hobbies include long walks, and barking at squirrels.cy29ojnwqaa48rz

  • Do you have any fun hobbies? No, only boring hobbies 😉 I enjoy cooking, crochet, board games, birding, backpacking, rock climbing.
  • What is your family life, and how did it develop along with your career? I met my husband in undergrad, we were in the same major, so our careers have been running at the same time, though not always in parallel. He spends a lot of time working elsewhere in the country throughout my PhD.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? I wanted a career doing conservation focused research.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Never stop asking questions, know that the road is going to be bumpy, but there are many of us here to help you through it, you’re going to have to work harder than some of your peers for the same thing, so get ready.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? If we want the best science to happen we need to have the best of everyone, women, men, racial and ethnic groups, people with disability, members of the LGBTQ community, religious and cultural groups, etc, etc. If we only have white guys in science, we only get the best science they can do, and that just isn’t good enough.
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? I was very lucky to have an entire village of people, starting with my parents and growing from there to encourage my love of science growing up and helping me find my way into a good university for undergrad and now into graduate school.

Auriel is at the grand prismatic spring in Yellowstone National Park11800275_10152982705065423_7969202949754173411_n

  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I’ve wanted to be a scientist and I’ve been fascinated by birds since I was very young, so my career path isn’t very surprising. I occasionally dabbled in other things growing up, writing, art, music, but science was always there to some extent.
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now? I find Katherine Crocker (@cricketcrocker) really inspiring.

tight-cropped-ladyology-line

Fun

10931240_10152555611080423_4669211033784967392_nAuriel is holding a Yellow Rail while collecting feathers for a migratory connectivity project.

  • What is your favorite book? Oh that is hard. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is always good
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Chocolate, or veggies and hummus
  • What is your favorite cartoon? I’m not a big cartoon person.
  • What would you listen to while writing? Lately the soundtrack to Hidden Figures
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Science
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? Probably a dog toy that looks like BB8.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Good balance of both, my work is well organized, my belongings are not.
  • What color socks are you wearing? None, I wear sandals/go barefoot whenever possible.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Auriel on Twitter @RallidaeRule

Auriel’s Blog can be found here: aurielfournier.github.iotight-cropped-ladyology-line

Women in STEM – Megan Fox

Megan Fox – Postdoctoral Fellow in Neurobiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine 

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? Broadly, I study how changes in neurotransmission can lead to changes in behavior.  As a graduate student, I focused on the role of monoamine signaling in animal models of anxiety, depression, and addiction. More recently I’m focusing on what happens up- and down-stream of monoaminergic dysregulation on a molecular level. The main idea is that if we can understand the adaptations that happen in the brain, then we can design better therapeutics to treat human patients suffering from mental illness.
  • What was your worst day in science? This is a difficult question to answer, because there are a lot of dark times where things don’t work and you feel like it is your fault that the experiment is failing. One of the worst days for me was when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. It’s challenging to stomach a neurodegenerative disorder when you are in Neuroscience, and I was afraid that being sick was going to interfere with my ability to stay in science. (Spoiler: it hasn’t!)
  • What was your best day of science? It is hard to narrow down my best day of science, because I try not to base my self-worth on experimental outcomes…but  there are two days in particular that come to mind. The first was the day I was able to measure real-time dopamine fluctuations in a freely moving rat on both sides of the brain simultaneously (they synchronize!). The second was my first successful awake animal norepinephrine recording. Both paradigms were technically challenging, but high-risk high-reward!

fox_m_2Meg Fox is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology. She has a PhD in Biological Chemistry. Follow along with her science on Twitter on @NotThatMeganFox.

  • What did you study at university?My first major in college was Chemical Engineering. After two semesters, I decided I was more interested in studying Chemistry and Biology than trudging through differential equations and quantum mechanics.
  • What does your average day look like? Most days I am juggling multiple experiments. Sometimes its measuring animal behavior, administering drugs, or putting animals through an experimental manipulation. Almost every day I stare at my data and try to envision where things are going. About once a month I sit down and plan several weeks’ worth of experiments in a row which keeps me focused and on-task. There’s also the occasional twitter break to keep up on the latest research and to connect with my network of friends. And writing. Always writing.
  • What are some of the highlights of your career right now? I am still very early in my career, but right now, a notable highlight was my PhD defense. It felt like such a mic-drop moment, and it was in stark contrast with the days where I thought I would have to quit because of my illness. It also tickles me every time someone makes the joke “Megan Fox has published in XYZ journal.”
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job?I think that the most obvious answer is a computer. Computers can be combined with so many exciting technologies that enable us to look at what’s happening in vivo and in real time.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? I spent much of my childhood in North Carolina, but consider myself to have grown up all over the east coast of the United States…I’ve lived from Maine to South Florida!
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? When I was a kid I wanted to be an archaeologist. I dug up animal bones behind my house and dreamed of becoming a female Indiana Jones.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? Reading, gaming, and the old-fashioned Netflix binge keep me centered outside of work.
  • Do you have any pets? I have two cats that are great companions but lousy copy editors.
  • Do you have any fun hobbies? I have been a musician for most of my life (piano, percussion), but I also enjoy backpacking and cooking.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

fox_m_1Bonus slide at the end of Meg’s PhD defense. #HaikuYourPhD

  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? It wasn’t so much about the result as much as it was the process. I had come to a stalemate as a research technician and I wanted to do more. I wanted to do good work that told a cohesive story. I also wanted to be in an environment that was challenging and would force me to learn and be outside my comfort zone.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? If you are interested in science, then study science…even if you don’t want to be a scientist! Also, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. There will be a lot of times where you look around and you are the only woman in the room, or the only woman speaking up. You deserve to be here, your voice deserves to be heard, and your perspective matters. There will be challenges everywhere you turn, but they should give you strength, not weaken you.
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now, and why? Every woman who is in STEM is an inspiration to me. Additionally, several years ago I helped run a day camp for Girls in Engineering Math and Science (GEMS). Those girls were so inquisitive and enthusiastic, and I hope they are continuing to learn about all things STEM. It is the upcoming generation in particular that inspires me, and reminds me why it is important that we strive to have more women in STEM fields.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? Plainly, why should boys have all the fun? Women are just as talented, smart, and creative, and their perspectives and insights are already helping STEM fields advance.
fox_m_3Meg as an undergrad, curiously wearing a labcoat, but no gloves.
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? I went to a marine biology summer camp as a kid. I also had a phenomenal Chemistry teacher in high school (Molly Woodward, aka  “Ms. Woody”).
  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I was drawn to science by a multitude of experiences. I loved to solve problems in school, and was the first to volunteer for fish and frog dissections. Aside from the typical “innate curiosity,” another big motivation was my younger sister’s Type I Diabetes diagnosis. I started learning how the human body works and how things can go wrong at age six, and thereafter I presented this knowledge to my first-grade class. I really liked that feeling of understanding and then explaining. The only career I ever considered outside science was that of music, but I am happy to be a “starving scientist” instead of a “starving artist.”   I’ve had a very diverse and interdisciplinary education experience, and I believe all of these perspectives are critical for my job today.
  • What was your biggest challenge during your degree? Aside from my MS diagnosis, I had a really challenging period during my first year of college. I was the only girl in my physics class and faced some blatant sexism that made me question my choice to study science.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineFun

  • What is your favorite book? 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • What is your favorite desk snack? I try very hard not to snack at work, but everyone knows I’m a sucker for cookies. When in doubt, coffee (p.o., ad libitum).
  • What is your favorite cartoon? Rocko’s Modern Life
  • What would you listen to while writing? Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness by the Smashing Pumpkins, and Desire by Bob Dylan were my go-to’s while compiling my dissertation.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Chemistry.
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? Nothing too strange yet, but it’s a new desk. On my old desk it was a stress-ball in the shape of a foot with bregma and lambda skull markings drawn on the top.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? A little of both. Google Calendar is my religion, but I have stacks of seemingly nonsensical post-it notes everywhere.
  • What is anther fun fact about you? I embroidered a fox on my lab coat.
  • What color socks are you wearing? Gray with orange foxes ( I’m a sucker for foxes)

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Meg on Twitter @NotThatMeganFoxtight-cropped-ladyology-line

Women in STEM – Sophia Frentz

s-ladyologySophia Frentz – Genetics PhD Student at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute at the University of Melbourne

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? I’m looking at early-onset mitochondrial disorders and investigating potential treatments and developing model systems. I’m particularly looking at Leigh Syndrome, which is an early-onset neurodegenerative disorder which typically causes fatality in childhood. There aren’t any current treatments for any mitochondrial disorders, so my work is pretty important! If you want to know more about mitochondrial disorders, there’s a lot of information on the AMDF website. (AMDF is funding some of my research)
  • What was your best day of science? During a summer internship, I sequenced a gene that meant a family could go ahead with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) without worrying about the inherited disorder I was studying.
  • What was your worst day in science? To be honest it’s before 9am, I haven’t had my coffee, so today feels like the worst day. I think the day I came back from holiday to thaw a bunch of cell lines, and they had all died was the worst day. I lost 4 months of work in lab. That day, I cried a lot and then went to a hot chocolate shop and drank three hot chocolates.

frentz_sSophia Frentz is a PhD Student at the University of Melbourne, Australia. You can follow along with her science on Twitter at @SophiaFrentz.

  • What are you studying at university? My undergraduate degree was in Genetics, with a minor in microbiology. My PhD I am enrolled with pathology and pediatrics, I think?
  • What are some of the highlights of your career so far? I was named one of 20 young Australians on the cusp of greatness and got some of my science writing published in Best Australian Science Writing 2016. That’s nice. Especially as I am a New Zealander, not an Australian. Suckers.
  • What does your average day look like? 
    • Wake up
    • Press snooze on alarm like three times
    • Turn on a podcast – usually MBMBaM as it takes me from getting dressed to work almost exactly with time.
    • Drink a coffee and do non-work things for like 30 minutes
    • SCIENCE TIME: lab-based experiments, usually from 10am-3pm
    • Stop for lunch and consider doing writing
    • Go back into the lab like 3:30-6pm
    • Go home and go to the gym
    • Watch Terrace House
    • Sleep
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? I have a love-hate relationship with the Seahorse XF24-3. The Seahorse measures oxygen consumption and extracellular acidification, meaning we can measure respiration constantly for cells or isolated mitochondria. This is a really delicate way of measuring mitochondrial (and other respiratory) defects, but due to being delicate, can also be a total pain in the butt. It’s a devil, but also is really nice and I defend it for like 500 words in my current thesis draft.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? Tauranga, New Zealand, with a brief stint in Beirut, Lebanon
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I’ve always thought I’d be a scientist.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I’ve recently got really into punching classes – boxing and body combat. It helps remove all the anger I have about my thesis. I play video games and watch Terrace House, because Terrace House is flawless TV.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Find other like-minded girls/women and support each other.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? Basically we’re only gonna stop global warming and cure diseases if we use the smartest people! It’s not cool that we’re not including women, people of colour and disabled people from joining this Cool Kids Club (aka science), because maybe they know how to solve this.

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  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I’m very curious and science is a formalized curiosity.
  • What was your biggest struggle during your degree? I have depression and chronically low blood pressure, and basically a body that’s trying to kill me 24/7 (but moreso when I’m stressed). So…uh. That!For example, today I nearly passed out on public transport. Then once I got to work I had a meeting with my supervisor, and it took a lot of effort to communicate because I was dizzy, nauseous, and low in brain-blood.A few months ago I had an ovarian cyst rupture while I was at work doing a FACS sort (A way of separating the cells you want from the cells you don’t want – super important to make sure you’re working on the right kind of cells and getting meaningful results!). Despite being in horrible pain, I kept at it because I needed the results and it’d take weeks to repeat the experiment. Also, after my ovarian cyst ruptured I couldn’t stand for very long without being in extreme pain and I did a poster presentation. The group running it got me a chair (because they’re amazing and I love them) and the woman who was marking my poster let me do the whole presentation sitting down. The dude didn’t even look at me until I stood up and then was still like SUPER UNCOOL about how much pain I was in.I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to navigate that if you’re permanently sitting/in a wheelchair?? Can we collectively be less jerkish about physical disabilities?tight-cropped-ladyology-line

Fun

  • What is your favorite book? 
    • Fiction: Ancillary series by Ann Leckie
    • Non-fiction: Best Australian Science Writing 2016 (I think I have to? I’m in it)
    • Poetry: cup by Alison Wong
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Mate I get Harvest Box which is Australia’s version of naturebox and I love them so much.
  • What would you listen to while writing? When editing I listen to podcasts. When writing, usually Homestuck music, early 2000s punk pop, or (recently) the Moana soundtrack.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? I know my high school teachers follow me on social media and read things I post so, I plead the fifth.
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? I have a pug with a bobble head that was a secret santa present, and a handmade demon soft toy that I hug when science is bad.
  • What color socks are you wearing? Blue with light blue flowers.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Somewhere in between. Love organization. Very quickly lose it.
  • Any other fun fact about you… I played piano for like 10 years (and flute for six) and still dabble in composition work.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Sophia on Twitter @sophiafrentz

Women in STEM – Emily Lescak

s-ladyologyEmily Lescak – Biological Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alaska Anchorage

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? Host-microbe interactions using threespine stickleback fish as a model organism. I study how disruptions to the gut microbiome caused by germ-free environments and exposure to antibiotics or environmental contaminants influence the behavioral and morphological development of the host.
  • What was your best day of science? My best days in science involved doing remote field work in beautiful parts of Alaska, successfully defending my dissertation (and having it accepted by the graduate school), and finding out that I had received a NSF postdoctoral fellowship.
  • What was your worst day in science? My tipping point while finishing my dissertation came when I was trying to format my dissertation while solo-parenting a newborn.

lescak_e_lab-coatDr. Emily Lescak is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. You can follow along with her science on Twitter at @elescak.

  • What are you studying at university? My PhD work focused on evolutionary rates in wild populations of Alaskan threespine stickleback fish. We found that freshwater populations that formed after a colossal earthquake in 1964 were nearly as phenotypically and genetically diverged from oceanic ancestors as populations founded thousands of years ago, suggesting that much freshwater evolution takes place in the first few decades post-colonization.
  • What are some of the highlights of your career so far? 
    • Nailing my talk at the Evolution Meeting
    • Publishing part of my dissertation work in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
    • Receiving a National Science Foundation (NSF) postdoctoral fellowship
  • What does your average day look like? I mentor undergraduate and graduate students as they pursue independent projects, analyze morphological and behavioral differences between fish with disrupted and normal, diverse gut microbial communities, and am active in organizing professional development opportunities with our university’s postdoctoral association. I’m also learning how to analyze 16S microbial community data and spend time writing and reviewing papers and grant proposals.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab:

  • Where did you grow up? Albany, NY
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I don’t really remember – probably a teacher?
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I spend time with family, run, yoga, and bake.

Lescak_E_Dog.jpegIn her free time, Emily enjoys skiing with her dog. Here they are at Portage Glacier, Alaska.

  • What is your family life, and how did it develop along with your career? I have a husband, a 2 year old, and another baby on the way. I had my first child during the final year of my PhD and was able to spend a lot of time at home with her as I finished data analysis and writing, for which I am incredibly grateful. My second child will be born during the second year of my postdoc.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture:

  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? I knew that the project would provide me with a lot of valuable skills and give me the opportunity to learn from really talented people. I was also motivated to pursue an academic career because I enjoy teaching, researching, and mentoring, and appreciate the ability to have a flexible schedule.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Science careers are great because you’re always learning new things, you gain greater insight and appreciation for the world around you, and you have plenty of opportunities to share your knowledge with your community. It’s rewarding to make new discoveries and watch students learn and fun to design and carry out experiments that no one has done before.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? All fields benefit from having members with diverse backgrounds and life experiences. Women are currently under-represented in STEM fields – I think it’s important for us to spend time fostering mentoring and networking communities to help with retention.
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? I think a defining moment for me was having the opportunity as a high school student to co-host a radio segment for 51%, a NPR show focused on women’s issues. I interviewed 52 female scientists in traditionally male-dominated careers, such as astronomy, physics, and ichthyology, and learned about their career paths and successes. It was the first opportunity I had to meet female scientists and it opened my eyes to a wide range of STEM careers I didn’t know existed.

Here Emily is carrying a huge stack of minnow traps used to catch stickleback fish, her model organism. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? As a child, I was curious about the world around me and spent a lot of time reading and writing. In college, I narrowed my interests down to behavior and evolution. I considered becoming a counselor and a high school biology teacher – I went so far as to earn a Masters in Teaching in secondary biology education. I am able to apply my interests in behavior and evolution in my current research, which focuses on associations between gut microbiota and behavior, and I spend time teaching and mentoring high school students.
  • What was your biggest struggle during your degree? Struggles with institutional support and intellectual isolation.
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now? I am inspired and motivated by the other female postdocs at my institution who are not only phenomenal researchers, but dedicate a great deal of time to outreach and giving back to our community.

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Fun:

  • What is your favorite book? The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. It’s the most intense book I’ve ever read. I finished it four months ago and have thought about it nearly every day since.
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Yogurt.
  • What is your favorite cartoon? Peanuts
  • What would you listen to while writing? Silence.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Biology
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? A picture of my friend’s dog.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Organization nut.
  • What color socks are you wearing? Red.
  • Any other fun fact about you… For my dissertation work, I helicoptered to Danger Island to collect fish samples.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Emily on Twitter @elescak

Women in STEM – Luiza Piva

t2-ladyologyLuiza Piva – Bioprocess Engineer and M. Sc. Molecular Biology at Universidade de Brasilia

I started to get involved in scientific communication by taking part in the Pint of Science organization committee in my city. Brazil is going through a rough financial crisis, so we need all the publicity and help we can get. Talking about science helps people understand our importance in society and can possibly help in industry university partnerships, which is what we need right now. Most of our research is funded by the government, so now that we’re broke we need to rely on other sources of investment.

When it comes to women, Brazil looks like a very liberal place but in reality we are a very sexist country. Domestic abuse and sexual harassment statistics are between the worst in the world. I want to show girls that they can be whatever they want to be and that they can be independent, strong and confident women.

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? I work with yeast molecular biology, developing tools for a better genetic manipulation of these organisms. My ultimate goal is to build a yeast platform for the production of a wide range of molecules through genetic engineering.
  • What was your best day of science? Whenever I go to conferences I feel reinvigorated as a scientist. It is great to see where my research field is heading and to get to know so many amazing people coming from different backgrounds.
  • What was your worst day in science? The day I found out my M.Sc. project wasn’t working. More than a year’s worth of work was for nothing. I had to change everything when I was close to the deadline and thought I wouldn’t make it, but I did!

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Luiza Piva is a MSc Candidate at Universidade de Brasilia. You can follow along with her science on Twitter at @piva_lu

  • What are you studying at university? I was an engineer undergrad, which meant lots of guys and a few girls in the program. Thankfully, the following semesters brought more women into bioprocess engineering and today we’re the majority. It’s the only engineering major where this happening at my hometown university, the rest are mostly composed of men. Since my area mixes engineering and biotechnology, I had two clear paths I could follow: engineering industry or research (which in Brazil means mostly academia). I chose research but my engineer way of thinking came with me. It’s great to work with biologists because we complete each other’s views and get to a solution together.
  • What are some of the highlights of your career right now? I’m collaborating on other projects and preparing results for publishing. I find that working together brings more exciting results.
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? Anything that edits DNA is amazing to me.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? Curitiba, a city in southern Brazil. I lived for short periods in Canada and France during my undergrad studies and now I live in Brasilia, it’s our country’s capital.
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I wanted to be a doctor, “the kind of doctor that gets babies out of mommys’ bellies”. I didn’t know what an obstetrician was back then.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I ride horses in my family’s farm, do boxing, read books, watch movies. I’m becoming more invested in my science work, so outside of the lab I read about the newest technologies, startups, looking for ideas and reading science-related books.
  • Do you have any pets? Yes! Various stray dogs, a daschund, horses, a guinea pig. I’ve had a parrot, a bunny and a hamster.

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  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? I haven’t obtained my PhD just yet. But, I want to do a PhD because I want to eventually run my own organisation (like, make TFUI legit with a headquarters) that allows myself and the staff (/students) to conduct research while doing outreach to the public.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Do not be afraid of a field because it is too technical or there are not enough women, or people from your area. Sometimes we need different minds to work together. You can learn new things and adapt, it’s better to be constantly learning than to know more than everyone in the room. People have to treat you seriously regardless of your age or appearance, make them listen to your ideas and show them what you’re worth.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? I believe we need to give women the option of going to STEM if they want to. By giving the same opportunities and education that boys have, same hobbies and games that stimulate logical thinking, we would get to know women’s true potential in these areas. Giving girls the confidence that they will be taken seriously and can succeed in this field is the most important thing. Once we reach this goal, women can start making a change in STEM in their own way.
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? One of my biology teacher in high school.
  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job?  I like studying and learning new things. Academia is the place I found that constantly challenges me and keeps me motivated.

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Fun

  • What is your favorite book? It depends on my state of mind. The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped me through some difficult times. Harry Potter, Brave New World, Animal Farm, The Demon-haunted World. Recently I started reading Brian Greene’s “The hidden reality” and it’s really awesome, he talks about multiverse theories and I recommend it to every science enthusiast.
  • What would you listen to while writing? Nothing, I need absolute silence.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Maths and Biology
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Curated chaos – I love the mess of printed articles, scrambled notes and multiple browser tabs that precedes a big turn in my lab strategy
  • What color socks are you wearing? None, it’s summer down here 🙂

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Luiza on Twitter @piva_lutight-cropped-ladyology-line

Women in STEM – Melissa Marquez

 

Melissa Cristina Marquezs-ladyology – Founder of Fins United

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife Inside the Lab:

  • What is your research topic? I largely focus on the behaviour and ecology of Chondrichthyans (sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras), mostly looking at where they choose to spend most of their time. This ties into sustainable fisheries management, where my research prevents overfishing and rebuilds fish populations (stocks). I also am an avid science communicator, talking to the public about my research, and to kids about sharks and how they are important.
  • What was your worst day in science? Being turned down from every graduate school I applied to in the US.
  • What was your best day of science? Being accepted to Oxford on a full ride scholarship after being rejected so many times. Best day so far was walking across the stage and collecting my MSc degree.mmarquez

Melissa Marquez is a MSc Candidate at the Victoria University of Wellington and the Founder of Fins United. You can follow along with her science on Twitter at @mcmsharkszz. Here she is doing great white shark research with Oceans Research in Mossel Bay, South Africa.

 

  • What are you studying at university? My latest degree (MSc) focus on habitat use in Chondrichthyans, specifically deep sea sharks found in New Zealand.
  • What are some of the highlights of your career right now? Being nominated for Shorty Awards in the Science category (didn’t win), surpassing 10,000 people educated by my organization (Fins United Initiative) in 3 years, getting my MSc degree.
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? My computer- it allows me to talk to colleagues all over the world and access data freely!

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? I mostly grew up in Mexico and Puerto Rico.
 Diving with sixgill sharks in Cape Town, South Africa.

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  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I was always adamant about being a marine biologist. If not that, a storm chaser.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I go for a run, read, cook, or spend time with my husband.
  • Do you have any pets? Sadly, no.
  • Do you have any fun hobbies? I’d like to think scuba diving is quite fun! I also enjoy going to my monthly wine and cheese gatherings.
  • If you want to talk about your family like and how did it develop alongside your career? I’m extremely lucky to have grown up with a very close, very supportive family. My parents have always pushed me to follow my passion

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? I haven’t obtained my PhD just yet. But, I want to do a PhD because I want to eventually run my own organisation (like, make TFUI legit with a headquarters) that allows myself and the staff (/students) to conduct research while doing outreach to the public.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Surround yourself with phenomenal people who are confident and secure enough to know that there is room for everyone to make succeed. Don’t think about what could go wrong when you put yourself out there, think about what could go right!
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now, and why? I follow a ton of amazing women in STEM on Twitter that it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few! But my biggest inspirations are Eugenie Clark, Jane Goodall, and Sylvia Earle.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? There is much left to be desired when it comes to the number of women in science fields in general. That’s why I’m thankful that organizations like Gills Club exist to help foster that love of science early in girls.MARQUEZ2.JPG
Free diving off the western coast of Mexico.
  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? I think growing up with shows like The Wild Thornberry’s and people like David Attenborough really opened my eyes to nature. I also grew up exploring the beaches of Puerto Rico, which deepened my already existing love of the ocean.
  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I have always been interested in the ocean, even from a young age. In our yearly trips to visit family in Puerto Rico, you could always find me by the tide pools or snorkeling. I’d even buy old marine biology textbooks and read them for fun! It astounds me that we have so much more to discover, and I’ve always been drawn to that sense of mystery.
  • What was your biggest challenge during your degree? Some days the words flew off my fingers while others I sat staring at a blank page for hours because I didn’t know how to write what was going through my brain at rapid speed.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineFun

  • What is your favorite book? The Harry Potter series has to be my favorite collection.
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Popcorn and dark chocolate!
  • What is your favorite cartoon? I still enjoy The Wild Thornberry’s immensely to this day.
  • What would you listen to while writing? Currently on my Spotify is the Hamilton soundtrack, specifically the song “Nonstop.”
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Band!
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? A shark stuffed animal wearing shark socks on its pectoral fins and a Santa hat.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Organization nut! I enjoy to-do lists, sticky notes, that whole deal.
  • What color socks are you wearing? Red socks… with pugs that are wearing Santa hats.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Melissa on Twitter @mcmsharksxx

The website for the Fins United outreach program: www.finsunited.co.nz

The Fins United Initiative is a shark, skate, ray and chimaera education and conservation program aiming to unite fin lovers worldwide. Through partnerships with K-12th grade educational institutions, The Fins United Initiative provides easy-to-access materials that educators can use in their classrooms. The programs use innovative, participatory learning techniques that allow students to fully grasp the important role these animals play in our oceans. Since 2013 we have educated over 10,000 people!

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