Women in STEM – Rachel Anderson

s-ladyologyRachel Anderson – Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at University of Iowa

  • B.S in Biology & B.A. in PsychologyTight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpg

Life Inside the Lab:

What is your research topic? In short, I study how chronic stress influences the prefrontal cortex in a rodent model. I am also interested in the stress-hormone, corticosterone. To study how both of these effect the prefrontal cortex, I fill neurons with a fluorescent dye that allows me to image dendrites at high resolution on a confocal microscope.  I am really interested in dendritic spines. This is where most of the excitatory contact in the cortex occurs. Changes in these spines can lead to aberrant behavior and cognition. We see that chronic stress (and high levels of corticosterone) severely decreases levels of these spines in the prefrontal cortex, and this corresponds with decreases in working memory. My dissertation is looking at how we can possible prevent this loss.

anderson_rRachel Anderson is Graduate Research and Teaching Assistant at University of Iowa Dept. of Neuroscience. Follow her science @rmandrson

What was your best day in science? I think my best day of science was when I had an idea about how to analyze my data (that was separate from any suggestion I had gotten from my PI) that turned into my first first-author publication in Journal of Neuroscience.

What was your worst day in science? I don’t think it is a specific day (though a few grave mistakes come to mind). My worst science days were when I went months (almost a year…) without really anything working for me. It is hard to come in day after day with nothing to show for it.

What did you study at university? In college I started out as a biology major. I loved biology and considered veterinary school. But then I took a psychology class and became fascinated with behavior. I became a psychology and biology double major as an attempt to create my own neuroscience major (which was not offered at my university). Now I am getting my PhD in psychology with an emphasis on behavioral neuroscience.

What does your average day look like? It really depends. But most of my work involves high-resolution imaging on a confocal microscope so chances are you will find me in a dark room in the basement of the biology building. But I also teach (which I love!) so I often begin my mornings on the confocal, break to teach, and end up doing some analysis on the computer in the afternoon.

anderson_r2Rachel presenting her work at the annual Society for Neuroscience conference!

What are some of the highlights of your career? Publishing my first first-author publication in the Journal of Neuroscience. Teaching my first class and having students get really excited about neuroscience. Winning a trainee travel award to the Neurobiology of Stress workshop which allowed me to present my work to a bunch of my favorite scientists.

What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? The laser scanning confocal microscope! I get to image such pretty neurons!!

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

Where did you grow up? My dad was in the military, so I was born in Japan. Then my family moved to Utah, and then on to Minnesota where I went to high school and college.

What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? A veterinarian 

What do you do to relax outside of lab? Run! And read. Lots of both.

Do you have any pets? Yes! A pug named Cooper.

Do you have any fun hobbies? I run a lot, does that count as a hobby? I am training for two marathons this upcoming year. I also enjoy camping with my husband.

How did your family life develop alongside your career? I met my husband my second year of graduate school. He is not in academia which is such a breath of fresh air. There were difficulties at first because I was probably over-working in lab and bringing my anxiety home with me. But now I have a better balance. It is so nice to come home and have someone to talk to about things other than the pressure of grad school.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? My undergraduate psychology advisor. I didn’t even know what getting a PhD meant until he told me. Now that I am here, my motivation comes more intrinsically- I really love teaching and want a career in this field.

Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? I think my high school biology teacher really encouraged me and told me that science was something I could do if I wanted. In college, my psychology advisor was the biggest supporter of me. He saw something in me that I didn’t see and encouraged me to go to graduate school and obtain my PhD. Mentors are so important. I still go to him for advice.

Why were you drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? I love logic and finding the solutions to problems. I loved human behavior but I wanted to know what caused that behavior. I love science because there are so many things we don’t know but could know- with asking the right questions and a passion to try.

Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? I think it is important to have a variety of people from all walks of life in STEM because the varied experiences bring different questions and different ways of answering those questions to the field. The same type of person will probably come to look at a topic the same way. We need different types of thinking to solve our most difficult problems in science.

What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Don’t count yourself out. I think too many people don’t think they can do it before they even try. Give yourself a chance- you are just as worthy.

What was your biggest challenge during your degree ? I think the biggest challenge in both getting my bachelor’s as well as obtaining my PhD is the constant comparison to others and believing that I am not as good enough/smart enough/creative enough. I am my own worst critic and I have gotten in my own way many times.

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Fun

  • What is your favorite book? SO MANY. I am an avid reader. But one of my favorites is “In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind” by Eric Kandel.
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Chocolate covered almonds
  • What would you listen to while writing? Nothing- I need silence to write.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Biology
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk now? A stuffed pug.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? Organization nut.
  • What color socks are you wearing? Blue- with pugs on them (Sense a theme?)

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineFollow Rachel on Twitter: @rmandrsontight-cropped-ladyology-line

Women in STEM – Amy Orsborn

e2-ladyologyAmy Orsborn – Postdoctoral Research at New York University

  • B.S in Engineering Physics & PhD in Bioengineering
  • Starting as an assistant professor in fall 2018 at the University of Washington
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Life Inside the Lab:

What is your research topic? I study how the brain learns, and how we can engineer therapies to take advantage of the brain’s flexibility to restore damage due to disease and disorders. I focus on the motor system, trying to understand how we learn to perform dexterous movements and how we can restore movement to people with motor disorders.

Specifically, I develop brain machine interfaces (BMIs), which repurpose neural activity in the brain to control a new device. The hope is that BMIs could restore movement to someone with paralysis due to neural damage (e.g. a spinal cord injury) by using the intact portions of their nervous system to control a prosthetic device. The original idea being BMI was to “decode” someone’s intentions to move. But research shows that BMIs also tap into our brains natural abilities to learn. BMIs ask the brain to learn a new motor skill—controlling a prosthetic device rather than your body. I’m interested in understanding how the brain learns this new skill, and how we can “engineer” BMI systems to best take advantage of our brains natural learning abilities.

OrsbornA.jpgDr. Amy Orsborn is a soon to be professor at the University of Washington! Follow her work @amyorz

What was your best day in science? As is likely the case for many scientists, the more I studied my research topic of interest, the more questions I had. I learned a lot about BMIs in my Ph.D., but most of all I learned just how much we (the scientific community) still don’t understand. I also eventually realized that the tools we would need to dig deeper into the problem didn’t quite exist yet. My postdoc research has taken me on a bit of an adventure into a new realm to try to develop some of these tools. Turns out that’s pretty hard. It also involves a whole new skill set I’ve had to develop over the past few years. (It also turned into a new branch of my research interests I didn’t really anticipate!) Recently, we’ve had some major breakthroughs on my project. After two-plus years of effort and focus, and many failures, we got the first “big” data from these experiments. That day—when so much effort finally paid off and I succeeded in a new domain—will be one I remember for a long time.

What was your worst day in science? As I alluded to above, most days in the lab are full of failure. Those days are far more common than the days when everything works as expected. Most are small and you have to let them fade from memory so you can try again tomorrow. One failed day in the lab during my Ph.D. will always stick with me, though, for two reasons. The first is pretty obvious—it was an experiment I’d put a lot of effort into (almost a year of work had lead up to this day!), so it was a huge let-down when things didn’t work as expected. I was holding back tears in the lab. Several beers were had that evening.

But the bigger reason I remember that day is because this failure taught me an important lesson. Every scientist, no matter how smart, fails. Experiments almost never go exactly as planned. The measure of a good scientist is how you handle failure. You have to learn and adapt.

What did you study at university? I majored in Engineering Physics in undergrad. I enjoyed physics a lot in high school and wanted to major in something relatively broad because I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do yet. In college I discovered neural engineering and was immediately hooked. I started taking a few classes in biomedical engineering and biology to learn more about the brain. And then shifted to bioengineering for my Ph.D.

What does your average day look like? People have average days? Every day is a bit of an adventure in the lab for me. One of the things I love most about my job is that I get to do so many different things. One day I’m debugging code or designing algorithms, the next I’m designing and 3D printing pieces that will help solve a problem in my experiment, and the next I’m thinking deeply about the brain and designing experiments to test my ideas. The range is huge. It doesn’t lend itself too well to routine.

What are some of the highlights of your career? I was recently selected as one of the L’Oreal for Women in Science fellows for 2016. The program recognizes female postdocs who are not only doing outstanding STEM work, but also work to improve diversity in STEM. The fellows spend a few days together in Washington D.C. meeting with people in science policy and celebrating women in STEM. Meeting the fellows and learning about science policy was one of the most amazing opportunities. It made me feel so honored to be among these amazingly talented women. It was incredibly inspiring. I’ve had a few big career “wins,” but this one was particularly special.

What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? We have a motion capture system to closely track and study people’s movements. We use it to look at how we learn to do dexterous movements with our hands. Hands are complicated and move in intricate ways. Reliably tracking all of our fingers requires a lot of cameras. It’s a massive set-up with 26 cameras. Wrangling the system to work smoothly is not trivial, so depending on the day you ask it might be my least favorite piece of equipment. But when we can track complicated movements in real-time, it’s cool enough to make the struggle worth it.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

Where did you grow up? I grew up primarily in a very small town in Illinois called Port Byron. I’ve been lucky enough to explore the US throughout my scientific training. I’ve lived in the Midwest, the west coast, and the east coast. The only trend in my moves has been going to bigger cities, now ending up in New York. If I want to keep this up, though, I’m going to have to leave the country next.

What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I really did not think much about careers as a kid. (My parents tell me I really wanted to be a “pay lady”—what I called cashiers—when I was very young. Apparently I thought the item scanners were fun, and thought that the cashiers just got to keep the money people gave them.) Through high school, I was what I’d call an equal-opportunity nerd. I played lots of musical instruments and wrote (bad) poems, but also excelled in math class. I pursued whatever interested me without thinking too much about how it would lead to a career. Thankfully my parents encouraged this sort of exploration. It allowed me to eventually discover scientific research.

What do you do to relax outside of lab? I currently live in New York City, which is such a great place to explore. I try to make a point of taking walks around the city whenever I can. Both for a bit of exercise, and as a way to clear my head of lab-related things. Otherwise, I’m prone to vegging out on the couch watching TV.

Do you have any pets? Nope, alas. But I am a big fan of dog sitting for friends when I get the chance!

Do you have any fun hobbies? I find I always need to have a creative outlet, and it’s taken various forms over the years. All through school continuing into college, I played several musical instruments and was in a variety of different bands. I play much less than I’d like to now, but music is something I will always love.

In graduate school I got very interested in graphic design and scientific illustration. Maybe it was making all the figures for my talks and papers that started it, but it has turned into a new fixation. I worked on a science magazine for much of grad school as a layout editor and art director. We would figure out how to design figures and illustrations to convey complicated concepts in a visually appealing way to go with articles in the magazine. It’s a really fun challenge, and something that’s also really useful in my work. Whenever I can, I love to help colleagues figure out the best way to illustrate their science for publications and talks.

My other big hobby is cooking—particularly baking. It’s a great stress relief to get in the kitchen and make something. It also gives you instant gratification that can sometimes be hard to come by in science! I love projects and learning new skills in the kitchen. My current obsessions are baking bread and making candy.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? All throughout my career, my biggest motivator has been my desire to learn and challenge myself. When senior year of college came around, many of my friends were so excited to be done with school and go out into “the real world.” Or were contemplating whether grad school in financial terms (i.e. would it get them a higher paid job). I, meanwhile, couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to take classes and work in labs forever if they could! I saw the opportunity to do research, to explore unknown realms of science, as such a privilege. I was lucky enough to have such a privilege, and was going to make the most of it. 

Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be a scientist? Why were you drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? I spent a lot of time in doctors offices as a child because I have a rare form if congenital scoliosis. I grew up seeing so many children at the doctors and hospitals dealing with very serious physical disabilities. I also have some personal experience with physical limitations and treatments for physical disabilities. These experiences made a very strong impression on me. I have a very deep appreciation and respect for how important movement is to our daily lives. I also have a very deep frustration with treatment options for people with physical disabilities.

My motivations to pursue the specific research questions and applications of my work are very personal. Though it wasn’t something I set out to do explicitly by any means. I’ve never been able to pin-point a moment where I decided to be a scientist. It sort of happened while I wasn’t paying attention. I always just pursued whatever I found interesting and took any opportunity I was offered. While I didn’t follow a deliberate path, I now can’t imagine doing anything else. I ended up exactly where I was meant to be, studying something I find so intellectually fascinating with applications I’m deeply passionate about.

My interest in the brain and how it controls our movements was sparked during college when I took a course on neuroscience. I started looking at neuroscience research and found an amazing new branch of work in neural engineering trying to “tap into” the brain to restore function to people with disabilities. I hadn’t been looking for it, but found a topic that perfectly blends my intellectual curiosity with an application that resonates with me personally. I was hooked.

Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? Science is ultimately about understanding the world so we can solve problems. The scientific community must work to solve problems that are relevant to the world at large. But it’s not as if there’s a list of challenges that need solving set from on high. Much of what scientists and engineers do is decide what problems are interesting and worth addressing. If we want to meet the needs and challenges facing our diverse society, then we need everyone to participate in identifying the right questions. Why would we think half of the population could understand and address the problems facing everyone? Women bring unique perspectives to the scientific community that are so needed.

What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Never be afraid to follow your interests and ask questions. And never be afraid to fail along the way. We (girls, in particular) are too often taught to shy away from failure or trying hard, instead focusing on being smart/talented. But failure is something we should embrace. You should take it as a sign that you’re challenging yourself and growing. You’ve found something worth digging into. Those are the problems worth pursuing.

Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now? There are so many amazing women I’ve met during my career who inspire me every day. And have become fantastic friends/mentors as I continue in science. My other L’Oreal For Women In Science fellows are great examples! The scientists I am inspired by from afar currently are the folks behind Bias Watch Neuro.  (NYT article on it). The project is lead by some outstanding women in neuroscience. They’re doing stellar science. They’re also having a real impact on diversity in STEM by using data and evidence-driven approaches to highlight bias in the field. It’s so great.

What was your biggest challenge during your degree ? As an interdisciplinary researcher at the intersection of two male-dominated fields, the lack of women is very salient to me. In my sub-field, the gender ratios are very skewed. Working in these male-dominated environments, I’ve experienced my fair share of subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) biases that all women in science would be familiar with.  Hearing a man repeat something you said a few minutes earlier and getting credit for the idea; having to work twice as hard to be taken seriously by colleagues. The list goes on. While each incident is minor, the net effect can be so draining. They can also leave you feeling less connected—less at home—in your day to day work. And it can be hard to find and create a supportive network of mentors and colleagues. For me, I found this had a particularly strong impact on my self-confidence. Any time things got hard in classes or my research wasn’t going well, I would interpret it as evidence I wasn’t well-suited to science. If you feel at all like an outsider, it’s very easy to internalize failures. It’s something I struggled with a lot, particularly in college. I’ve gradually gotten better at realizing the things I’m doing are just hard, and they’re hard for everyone.  I’ve also found an amazing network of mentors and colleagues who are always ready with advice and support. I’ve also gotten better at spotting biases and trying to head them off at the pass. But these are eternal struggles.
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Fun

  • What is your favorite book? I admit I’m not the most avid reader. But books I’ve enjoyed include: non-fiction: The Family That Couldn’t Sleep, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks fiction: The Dud Avocado, Lucky Jim, White Teeth.
  • What is your favorite desk snack? I am not the best at self-control when it comes to snacks, so I usually avoid having them at my desk. But when I make an exception, it’s usually for a bar of chocolate. (This answer feels like it’s playing so directly into women stereotypes. But I guess stereotypes derive from truth…)
  • What would you listen to while writing? When I’m writing, I usually gravitate towards slightly moodier/sparse music (e.g. while writing this, I’ve listened to James Blake, Jessie Ware, Laura Mvula, and Solange).
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Maybe a toss-up between physics and math.
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk now? Maybe not the strangest, but definitely the goofiest: I get cold a lot and bought these hand warmers. They keep me warm and make me smile.
  • Another other fun fact about you: I was the only woman in my undergraduate major in my year. I didn’t realize it until late sophomore year!
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? An organization enthusiast who inevitably always devolves into chaos. (Who is somehow always very interested in getting reorganized when there’s something that she wants to procrastinate on.)
  • What color socks are you wearing? I’m currently wearing one black and one beige sock. I hate sorting socks.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineCheck out more about Amy’s work!

A few of Amy’s Papers:

  • http://www.cell.com/neuron/abstract/S0896-6273(14)00363-8 A paper where we demonstrate that treating brain-machine interfaces as a “two-learner” system could be particularly beneficial for neural prostheses. That is, the brain can learn in concert with machine learning, and the machine learning might be able to “shape” the neural plasticity.
  • http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13825 A paper where we develop the best-performing brain-machine interface algorithm and explore the mechanisms underlying the improved performance. We show that the rate of control and feedback in a BMI influence performance, and that by making a decoder with a high rate of control you can improve performance beyond the previous state-of-the-art approaches.

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Women in STEM – Leslie Amodeo

 s-ladyologyLeslie Amodeo – Postdoctoral Scholar at The Scripps Research Institute in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife in the Lab

  • What is your area of research? Developmental Neurophysiology and Alcoholism in animal models.
  • What was your best day of science? When I got my first NIH research grant.
  • What was your worst day in science? When my first grad school PI told me that “it was not going to work” and I would need to find a new lab.

fullsizerender_1Dr. Leslie Amodeo is a postdoctoral Scholar at The Scripps Research Institute in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience. She has a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Illinois – Chicago.

  • What did you study at university? Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? In vivo electrophysiology

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? San Bernardino, California
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I thought i was going to be in the Forestry Service.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I like to go to the zoo, aquarium, or park with the kiddos.
  • Do you have any pets? We have a Dog (lab/pit mix) and cat
  • Do you have any fun hobbies? Are kids a hobby? Because I sure do spend a lot of time and money on them!

fullsizerenderDr. Amodeo getting some help from the littlest research assistant.

Tell us a little bit about your family… I was married after my first year in grad school (PhD) in 2011. We had Etta right after my preliminary exam in 2013. Since we really couldn’t afford daycare on grad student incomes, Dennis (my husband) and I split days and we had an undergraduate student watch her for a couple hours a week. We had an amazingly supportive department, but not without its own challenges. In 2015 we had Nina, 5 days before Dennis proposed his dissertation and not even a month before we moved for his post-doc in San Diego. I stayed home to finish writing my dissertation and take care of Nina (who had colic at the time). After defending my dissertation at the beginning of 2016 I began a post-doc fellowship at Scripps.

Dennis was offered a tenured faculty position at Cal State San Bernardino starting fall 2016 and currently stays at the university (2h away) most of the week. The “two-body” problem has had a huge impact on our family in the recent year and I am contemplating my options (2nd post doc, adjunct teaching, commuting back to San Diego, etc.) as we move forward.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be in STEM? I don’t think there was any one event or person. I worked in a lab that was built on peer mentorship which played a huge role in preparing me for grad school.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? To find an internship as soon as you feel ready. The most important thing is to get involved. Science is not for everyone so getting your feet wet is a great way to decide whether this is the career path for you. Don’t wait till you graduate to decide to work in a lab.
  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? I think women provide a great asset to science and there are a lot of personal benefits that comes with it (flexibility in work hours, creativity in experimental design, outreach programs, etc.). STEM is becoming incredibly important in our society with many of the high paying jobs in these fields. Reducing the gender gap is one imperative way we can make STEM more accessible to everyone.
  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? Surprisingly, I always wanted to do this. I just got lucky and went to an undergraduate school that had a neuroscience program. While this was the case, I was also told to “never shut doors” and that as an undergrad you should be open to changing majors because it is much harder to change career paths the longer you wait.
  • What was your biggest struggle during your degree? I still struggle with feeling confident in science and am afraid that someone will call me out as an imposter. Because of this I refrain (even to this day) from calling myself a “scientist”. This fear and insecurity has haunted me throughout grad school and continues into my post-doc. I think this is a big issue for women in science since many struggle to emphasize their skills and/or achievements which in the end can have a negative effect on their careers.
  • What was your biggest motivation to obtain your PhD? Obtaining my PhD was a career choice and was just another step forward on that career path. I wouldn’t have done it if it was not to advance my career.
  • What do you think is a hurdle for many women in STEM that needs to change? I think a lot of women in STEM talk about body image and how they dress or look makes them an outcast. I dealt with this a lot since I was pregnant twice during graduate school. While I’m not bothered by comments about my body, it is a strange feeling for people to stare and make uncomfortable comments about your looks. Being pregnant is a neon sign that says “I’m a woman that shouldn’t be working” and while I had a ton of support from the department and my husband, there are plenty of people who don’t.

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Fun

  • What is your favorite book? The Color Monster
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Coffee
  • What is your favorite cartoon? Doc McStuffins
  • What would you listen to while writing? RadioLab
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Spanish
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? A welder, but I guess that’s not that crazy.
  • What color socks are you wearing? None.
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? I wish it was the former.

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Women in STEM – Erin Winick

e2-ladyologyErin Winick– CEO at Sci Chic and Freelance Writer 

Tight Cropped Ladyology - Line.jpgLife at Work:

  • Where do you work? I am CEO of a company, Sci Chic, which creates science and engineering inspired jewelry using plastic and metal 3D printing. I am also a freelance science communication and technical writer on topics ranging from women in STEM to manufacturing.
  • What was your best day of science? My best day in science was the test day for my first engineering lab class. It was in design and manufacturing lab and we got the chance to test our robot and see what else everyone else had created as well.
  • What was your worst day in science? Probably the day I doubted the path I had taken. I seriously considered switching my major during my freshman year. I felt isolated and like I didn’t have people to turn to to ask for help and I was not enjoying my entry level classes like calculus and physics. I am so glad I pushed through to my upper level classes and found a community among the Society of Women Engineers.

winick_erin_4Erin Winick is a CEO and a Freelance Writer. She has a Bachelors of Science from the University of Florida in Mechanical Engineering. You can follow along with her science on Twitter at @erinwinick. She is wearing her blue galaxy dress that she sewed herself!

What did you study at university? Mechanical engineering at the University of Florida

  • What are some of the highlights of your career so far? 
    • Completing my senior design project was big moment for me because it was the culmination of all of the knowledge I had gained from the years prior.
    • Traveling to New York and DC in the same week for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Festival and the USA Science and Engineering Festival was a major moment for me. It was a combination of the two areas I had focused on and I got to meet an amazing group of people.
  • What does your average day look like? Right now I dedicate 3 days out of the week to focusing on Sci Chic, and 2 days to working on technical and science writing. The days range from creating new designs for 3D printing and  exploring scientific topics for new jewelry to diving into a complex engineering topic to explain through my writing.
  • What is your favorite piece of technology or equipment you get to use in your job? Absolutely my Lulzbot Mini 3D Printer. I got it in 2015 and it was my first 3D printer I owned.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineLife Outside of Lab

  • Where did you grow up? Tampa, FL
  • What profession did you think you would be when you were a kid? I was the kid that always stressed out about this question and never really had a solid answer. I considered everything from jobs in the science fields to journalism positions.
  • What do you do to relax outside of lab? I love hiking and nature in general. As a kid all of our family trips were hiking and birding based and this has stayed with me. This past summer I actually visited 10 national parks and made 2 cross country drives.

winick_erin_2Erin visiting John Deere corporate headquarters during her engineering internship.

  • Do you have any pets? I wish, but not right now.
  • Do you have any fun hobbies? I actually do a lot of sewing! I sew everything from everyday clothes to costumes. I always sewed my Halloween costumes growing up. It goes along with my overall love of making things.
  • Tell us a little bit about your family… I have a boyfriend of 6 years who is an immensely creative writer/blogger/ghost writer. He keeps me balanced when I get deep into engineering.

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineBig Picture

  • Is there any one event or person who/that made you want to be in STEM? It was more a combination of events, but one person that inspired me was my grandfather. He actually passed away before I was born, but his legacy was carried on through my family. He worked on the Saturn and shuttle programs but died before the launch of the first shuttle. My whole family has hugely valued the space program because of him and really made me appreciate science and engineering.
  • What is your best advice for girls interested in science? Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help! There is a huge community of people out there who want to see you succeed. Do not feel like you are alone.

Erin hiking in Yosemite National Park during one of her summer internships in Californiawinick_erin_3-1

 

  • Why do you think it is important to have more women in STEM? I think that the more women there are in the field, the culture of more STEM institutions will shift to be more accepting of women. Many companies and labs are still working to create an equal and fair environment and woman should not be driven out because of this.Additionally, I think many women out there would love a career in the STEM fields but do not get a true picture of what the job entails at a young enough age to pursue the career. We need to expose young girls to what science and engineering jobs involve so they can decide if they might enjoy it.
  • Why were your drawn to science? Did you ever consider another career path? How close was your schooling related to your current job? I am passionate about making new things and engineering was the best way for make this into a career! I was very drawn to the journalism field as well but now get to work in that area as well with me science communication work and technical writing. I definitely use my engineering skills in the creation of all of my 3D printing and design work.
  • Are there any women in STEM who are inspiring you right now, and why? Some of the people I love following and look up to right now are Simone Giertz, Summer Ash, PhysicsGirl and Danit Peleg. Some of them I have gotten the chance to meet and interact with as well which is pretty awesome!tight-cropped-ladyology-line

Fun

  • What is your favorite book? 
    • Jurassic Park
    • The Martian
    • Ready Player One
  • What is your favorite desk snack? Smoothies
  • What is your favorite cartoon? Kim Possible
  • What would you listen to while writing? Orchestral movie soundtracks. I am especially into the Moana soundtrack right now.
  • What was your favorite subject in high school? Journalism/Newspaper
  • What is the strangest thing on your desk right now? A statue of the MailChimp mascot monkey holding a red pen.
  • What color socks are you wearing? I am currently not wearing any socks. XD
  • Organization nut, or curated chaos? I run a line down the center.
  • Any other fun fact about you…I pole vaulted and ran track in high school and love roller coasters

winick_erin_1Erin working at her Lulzbot Mini 3D printer which she uses for her company, Sci Chic (scichic.com)

 

tight-cropped-ladyology-lineContact Erin on Twitter @erinwinick