There have been many exciting developments in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As I started this article, I wanted to tell you about a few of the many amazing women doing groundbreaking work in STEM. However, as everyone who knows me has long since realized, the one thing I love more than telling an entertaining story about science is showing how the science works and letting people get their hands dirty experimenting for themselves.
So, I would like to introduce you to five inspiring women in STEM today and also suggest how you might experience a taste of the work they have pioneered. Some of these projects you can do at home for little or no money, while others require some investment. Either way, these experiments are exciting and I hope you find these scientists as inspiring as I do. I hope you get a taste for their passionate work as well as a reminder that science is for everyone, including you.
Happy New Year!
1. Dr. Fabiola Gianotti
Dr. Fabiola Gianotti became the first female director-general of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) in 2016. The Italian physicist led the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment, ATLAS, when ATLAS and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) made the Nobel-Prize winning discovery of the Higgs boson.
2. Dr. Nina Tandon
Dr. Nina Tandon is a biomedical engineer and the CEO of EpiBone, a company working on growing bone transplants from a patient’s own stem cells on a 3D printed scaffold.
You can learn how to create your own 3D printed scaffolds for cell cultures from artist Amy Karle who has photos of her incredible work online.
3. Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani
The world suffered an enormous loss when Iranian mathematician Dr. Maryam Mirzakhani passed away in July 2017. In 2014, Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious prize for mathematical achievement, analogous to a Nobel Prize for mathematics (of which there is none). Much of her research was on hyperbolic surfaces and Mirzakhani was awarded the Fields Medal for her “outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.”
You can build models of hyperbolic geometric structures at home, hopefully gaining along the way some small bit of the enormous enthusiasm Mirzakhani had for mathematics in general and, more specifically, for Hyberbolic Geometry. She is quoted as saying that the more she spent time on mathematics, the more excited she got about it.
4. Dr. Jeanette Epps
In May 2018, Dr. Jeanette Epps will be the first African-American to live on the International Space Station for an extended period of time. Epps was a NASA fellow while earning her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland, did research with Ford Motor Company, and worked as a Technical Information Officer for the CIA for over 7 years, and completed a nine-day underwater NASA research mission with NEEMO.
5. Dr. Jennifer Doudna
Dr. Jennifer Doudna, a biochemist at UCBerkeley, is one of the primary developers of Crispr-Cas9, a revolutionary technique for genome editing. Crispr is now widely employed because doing so is so much easier, less costly, and more precise than previous techniques for genomic engineering. Crispr could potentially be used to eradicate infectious diseases and more controversially could also be used for eugenics or the development of biological weapons. Since part of its benefit is its ease of use, it can not only be used by labs everywhere but also by you at home with one of the DIY Crispr kits now available for sale.