Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Madhumalti Sharma, Founder and President, European Program Manager

Madhumalti Sharma

Founder and President, European Program Manager

Workshop4Me a.s.b.l, Montrium


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always loved technology and computers. When I started in Standard 9 with GW Basic, I thought it was so cool to make a program do what I want and print such cool computer printed cards using a dot matrix printer – it’s funny but back in the day that was cool! I did my professional diploma in software technology and systems management at the same time as my Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy Honors as I could do the course quite effortlessly and also ended up getting scholarships on the computer course based on my grades.

When I graduated with my Bachelor of Commerce and Software diploma at the same time, the software institute offered me to do another semester that included internship working on a real life software project at a company. It was an opportunity to earn back the amount i had spent on the 2 year program within the year. It sounded like a great thing to work on a real software project that a company will use. Also, the opportunity to repay my Dad for the course was enticing. That’s what got me into a software profession. I loved the 24 hours 7 days a week project to help a securities and stock brokerage company go from manual to computerization. After that I just kept going. It has been 21 years and it has been an exciting journey.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Lots of cool projects over the period of 21 years. Will mention three :

  1. Client satisfaction – It was wonderful to help a courier company bring the Track and trace feature on the package which was quite unique at the time. It was great to see all the courier companies quickly bring in that feature into their website soon after.
  2. Corporate Social responsibility – As part of IBM, it was great to work on the Computer Literacy project for under privileged youth in order to get them into jobs, bring more girls into technology through the Women in Technology K-12 program. This experience helped me to co-found and run a non-profit organization Workshop4Me.
  3. Managing a custom software development project to manage logistics for a life sciences company that was finding a unique cancer cure using blood transfusion. This project was very special since it showed me how lines of code and managing the project was directly impacting the lives of human beings.

Role models and heroes:
Have been fortunate to have several heroes and role models…they are not all necessarily known world over. My Dad who always encouraged me to do the best in what I choose to do. When I said I wanted to sit for the Chartered Accountancy exam because all my friends were doing it and I would just give it a shot and not necessarily put my best to it, he said, if I wanted to do something I should put my entire focus and effort on it, or else not go for it at all. I did my software course instead as I told him I was more interested in that. This focus helped me to succeed.

Several colleagues from work have been role models showing that it is possible to be a wife, daughter, mother and STEMinist at the same time. It is important to “see it and then be it.”

Why do you loving working in STEM?
It gives me an opportunity to create, build, share and see the fruits of labor within a short period of time. The problem solving in order to make something better is exciting. Workshop4Me, through which we inspire the pre-teens and teens to take up coding in order to move from being ‘consumer’ using technology to ‘creator’ using technology is fun. The joy on the faces of the 7-16 year olds when they make something happen using code is rewarding. Getting to see how stuff works and sharing it with others is heart warming.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Give it a shot! You might enjoy it more than you think. Try to learn something new as often as you can. Just because you have not done it before does not mean you cannot do it now. Be curious and do not be scared of opening up something to figure out how it works even if you will not be able to put it back together. Ask questions. Speak up. Don’t worry too much about what people will think or say ; just do your thing. Time is the most valuable resource you have. Decide wisely what you want to do with it. Do not follow anyone’s advice, do what feels right to you!

Favorite website or app:Google, Workshop4Me.org, MIT Technology Review, Fortune, Time, MIT Open courseware Nightsky, compass, Google maps

Twitter: @Workshop4Me

Site: Workshop4Me.org

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Judith Rubinstein, Data Analyst/Director of Regulatory Data

Judith Rubinstein

Data Analyst/Director of Regulatory Data

Context Matters Inc


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was greatly inspired by the space program as a child. Judith Resnik was a defining influence in my childhood. When I was in 4th grade I got glasses, and knowing I could never be a pilot I began my plot to be an engineer. I assumed that I would be an aeronautical engineer well into my teens. In high school I took an AP biology class and I fell in love. There is so much we don’t know about biology and it fits the pieces of chemistry and physics together in such interesting ways. My college applications were all to biology heavy schools and schools with biomedical engineering programs.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I worked on was working in environmental education as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan. Jordan is such a water poor country and they are using their non renewable water sources to meet their needs. I worked with girls to improve their understanding of their environment and what they could do to protect and advocate for it. Jordan is such a small country that individuals can have real impacts in communities and cities.

Role models and heroes:
As I mentioned before, Judith Resnik has always been a hero. She and Sally Ride were such good friends, and Sally Ride really led a lot of the repercussions for NASA after the challenger explosion. Their friendship was something I really understood and related to, especially when the world was telling me that there are only so many spaces for women in certain areas and that you’ll often be competing with other women for particular jobs.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson was also a role model. He went to my high school and came to speak to my astronomy class senior year. Although I was interested in a career in biology I still had my eyes on the sky.

Probably my third set of roll models were the women who played in the WNBA the first season: Teresa Weatherspoon, Kym Hampton and Sue Wicks. They were all older players, probably in their thirties, and they had been playing basketball for so long, waiting for us to have a league. It takes a kind of dedication to do that, and some real faith in the fact that what you’re doing is worth it. I spent some nights waking up to feed cells at 3am because new cells need to be fed regularly. It was a 20 minute walk down a mostly deserted street in the dark to the lab. It wasn’t easy, at least not mentally, to do that kind of thing. But I had good examples of the pay off in my past.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love seeing the way that things fit together. My job involves a lot of attention to detail and looking at different data points, but when I do it I can see how everything tells a story. I work in pharmaceutical data, and I’m always interested to see the kinds of things that we can do now. In the last two years we cured a virus! Cured!

If you had told me that we could do that when I was in high school I would have laughed. But it opens up so many possibilities to treat all kinds of illness. And the story that everyone is telling is how much it costs to cure a virus. If you hear it from the outside you miss the magnitude of the science. There is real potential to help people here. The cost isn’t a trivial barrier, but it certainly isn’t the whole story.

Advice for future STEMinists?
I have a firm belief that everyone can do any job, with the right training and an open mind. But that means that you need to seek out the skills, and you need to be open to trying things differently. Then you have to own what you can do. The beauty of science and engineering is that you don’t have to have the answer memorized. You can figure it out. You should figure it out for yourself anyway, because you might have a better way of doing things than anyone else.

Favorite website or app:
My favorite? That’s a hard question. I might have to go with 538. I love to read about the math behind things. I love to look at how they put their models together. But in terms of things I use the most, it’s definitely books on tape or podcasts. There are podcasts for everything, and I listen to them all the time. They’re great for a commute because even on a very subway nobody I’m not throwing my elbows out at anyone trying to read a book.

Twitter: @jujulr

Site: http://crossingtheriver-jlr.blogspot.com/

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Mallory Ladd, NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Chemistry & Climate Science

Mallory Ladd

NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Chemistry & Climate Science

Oak Ridge National Laboratory


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was always a curious kid and very lucky to have had super supportive parents and teachers who nurtured my curiosity and led me to science for answers from a very early age. Also though, I think a little part of me decided to pursue STEM in college because of everyone and anyone who said that I couldn’t. I wanted to prove them wrong and prove to myself that I could do it.

After my undergrad in chemistry, I was hooked. I decided to go to graduate school because I wanted to learn more about how to “do” research, and make new discoveries. I wanted to learn how to think like a scientist, and work on questions that could someday impact how we live. I wanted to make a difference in the world somehow, and science is what inspires me to try and do that each day.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The *coolest* project I’ve worked on is definitely the one I’m working on right now for my dissertation work, the Next-Generation Ecosystem Experiments (NGEE-Arctic) project at ORNL! 😊 The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet and holds huge stores of carbon below ground, frozen in the permafrost. NGEE’s goal is to improve climate model predictions of how the Arctic is going to respond to warming temperatures in the future.

My research focuses on determining how the molecular composition of these permafrost soils may be driving the release of greenhouse gases from these systems, and if that chemical signature can be used as a predictor to help identify “hotspots” of vulnerability across the landscape. But the cool science isn’t my only favorite thing about this project…

Although the Arctic is generally known for its freezing temperatures, biting winds, and swarms of mosquitoes in the summer, getting out of the lab and visiting our field sites in Alaska to collect samples has been an invaluable opportunity to learn about the complexity of natural systems and just how much climate change is impacting Americans right now.

As a Department of Energy-led initiative, NGEE has given me the opportunity to work with chemists, biologists, computer scientists, and engineers, from universities and national laboratories from all around the country and meet people from all around the world. Being a part of a such a large interdisciplinary team has shown me a new perspective on how scientists from many different fields can, and must work together to tackle the world’s greatest problems and questions, including climate change.

Role models and heroes:
My family, friends, teachers, and faculty mentors in undergrad and graduate school have always been my greatest support system and source of inspiration. And in addition to every woman that came before me to blaze the trail for more us to pursue STEM, my role models also include all of my STEMinist colleagues in the Bredesen Center and at the University of Tennessee. They all come from such unique backgrounds and are tackling fascinating research questions. Pursuing a PhD is tough, but some of my colleagues are pursuing their PhD while also becoming a mom. I’d love to see a guy try and finish his PhD over a summer in South, while pregnant with twins… 😉

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Working in a STEM field has taught me to question everything, and think for myself. It’s too easy to get caught up with reading the latest viral article on the internet and take it as fact. Part of becoming a scientist is learning how to “zoom out”, think about everything as objectively as possible by looking at it from multiple angles, make conclusions based on facts and the best data available, and then keep asking more questions. For me, science turns “I don’t know” into “I don’t know yet…” and that’s what inspires me every day.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Some of the best advice I received early on was that each STEM field has its own unique culture and being aware of that culture when choosing a field to work in, or when trying to communicate between fields, can be extremely helpful. Until more recently, these science cultures have mostly been shaped by white men.

Being in a science field may seem unfamiliar or even uncomfortable at times. There will be days where you question whether you want to stay in your STEM field. With every woman that perseveres through the tough days, and succeeds in her field, we change that culture just that little bit more. Don’t change yourself to fit into the culture you see there. Stand out. Be different. Change the culture to include YOU. 🙂

Favorite website or app:
I wouldn’t be a good science communicator without shamelessly plugging my website and blog Think Like A Postdoc, which aims to help high school, undergraduate, and graduate students navigate working in a STEM field and to help bridge the gap between scientists in the lab and the broader public: http://malloryladd.com

Twitter: @massspecmaven

Site: malloryladd.com

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Sharon Lin, Founder at StuyHacks, BitxBit Camp

Sharon Lin

Founder

StuyHacks, BitxBit Camp


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
STEM has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, but the biggest catalyst for my interest in pursuing a career in the field came in middle school, when I became involved in the Technology Student Association. From creating video games and websites to designing products for manufacturing and interview skills, I’ve learned so much from the organization and its annual competitions.

There is no end to the possibilities that you can pursue with a career in STEM – from research to advocacy to education to numerous other choices, the problem solving and critical thinking skills that STEM equips you are useful in nearly every possible sector. The support that the STEM community has for one another is also an incredible part of my life, and one of the biggest perks of being involved in STEM.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
At DCHacks 2016, my team and I created an automated voice-to-text notetaking app. It was my first time working with Microsoft APIs, and most of the conference prizes had been funded by Microsoft, so we were immensely interested incorporated some of the technology into our application. The majority of the mentors were also surprised at our task, as they hadn’t been able to make a similar app at another hackathon.

We managed to stay up for most of the 24 hours building the backend for the site, which required reverse-engineering parts of the API in order to understand their usage and then manipulating it further in order to fit into the framework of our web app. We finally managed to create the prototype for what would become our iOS app that we submitted to the competition, which won Honorable Mention from the Microsoft staff for incorporating their date-time API, voice-to-text API, and languages pack.

Role models and heroes:
Hedy Lamarr has always been one of my favorite actresses, but my respect for her grew immensely upon the discovery that she was also an accomplished inventor. Her drive and her innovation to create numerous inventions throughout her lifetime despite the stigma against women in STEM and actresses is incredibly admirable, and I’ve always looked up to how she has defied every Hollywood deeming women as unintelligent and incapable of pursuing science and research.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
It’s so empowering to be able to look at a real world problem and think to yourself, “I know how I can solve that.” Being able to use my own skills to solve nearly any problem I encounter is one of the gifts that being involved in STEM has given me.

Even more so, being able to tackle some of the world’s greatest problems, such as renewable energy and food waste through experiments and research is something that not everyone can say they do on a daily basis. I also love how discoveries are always being made every day, and how you never know when the next big breakthrough will be – maybe it might come from you!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Look for a mentor who can help you succeed. I would not have gotten all of the opportunities I’ve received in my life had I not had the help of a number of mentors. From my elementary school teacher Kathy Bradley and math teacher Caren MacConnell to my research mentors at NYU, I’ve learned so much just from being in their company and working alongside them. Having a mentor to support you through hardships and successes is incredibly rewarding, and it’s probably one of the reasons why I fell in love with the STEM field in the first place.

Favorite website or app:
I love Google Calendar. I use it to organize nearly every aspect of my life, and its ability to track to-do lists and agendas has saved me on a number of occasions. From planning events to booking meetups and calls, it’s an incredibly versatile and useful tool.

Twitter: @sharontlin

Site: sharonlin.me

Blog

STEMinist Profile: Elizabeth Blaeser, Infection Preventionist / Science Screenprinter

Elizabeth Blaeser

Infection Preventionist / Science Screenprinter

UPenn Medicine / Fraggles & Friggles


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My parents really inspired my love of science. My Dad would read articles to me from Science News when I was really young and my Mom loved talking to me about anthropology and geology (my Dad still sends me articles to this day and I go rock hunting with my Mom). Then, in biology class in high school, it really hit me how much I truly loved the subject matter. I just couldn’t get enough.

From there I went to college for biology, worked as a research assistant in a pediatric gastroenterology department, went to get my masters in Public Health Microbiology and Emerging Infectious Diseases, worked at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), worked at a state health department as an Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, and ultimately, ended up being an Infection Preventionist for a hospital.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
There were a lot of unusual and interesting things that came up while working at the state health department. The coolest was probably investigating a statewide outbreak of Shigella from a crowded 4th of July weekend at a local beach.

Role models and heroes:
I am kind of obsessed with Darwin. I wouldn’t say he was my hero per se, just that he made some incredible discoveries that changed the world forever. My role models are the strong professional women in my life. My current boss is incredible and I really look up to her. She is one of the few female department chiefs in our hospital network, she is incredibly knowledgeable, smart, and confident.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I learn something new and interesting every day! I know it’s cliche, but it’s so true. Even if it’s not at work, I get to read about incredible discoveries!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Reach out to alumni, friends, professors – anyone who has more experience in the field and the breadth of professional opportunities. Trust me, if you’re interested in science and don’t want to get an MD or PhD, you can still be in science! There are way more possibilities and types of jobs out there that you probably had never even heard of. Go out and explore!

Favorite website or app:
I screenprint punny science-related designs at www.fragglesandfriggles.etsy.com

Twitter: @fraggsandfriggs

Site: fragglesandfriggles.com

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Geeky Mikita, Physics Genius, Babysitter and STEM student

Geeky Mikita

Winner of the All Schools Everywhere Science Competition

Character in the book A Fairy in the Family Again


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I wanted to have a dinosaur as a pet and when my parents said “No” I tried to clone a dinosaur. That didn’t work. Then my science teacher, Miss Treacle, and I did a project where we designed and built an animatronic robot dinosaur. I have been doing STEM projects ever since.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I helped one of the other babysitters Keysha with her nail varnish project. I am sure you know that pearly nail varnishes get their pearliness from fish scales. Well, Keysha and I have a new pearly ingredient that means we don’t have to bother any fish. Helping animals and creatures with science is cool.

Role models and heroes:
My teacher Miss Treacle makes science fun. I really like Anne-Marie Amafidon from London who is a STEMette. The Stemettes do free events for girls. They have coding workshops, exhibitions and school trips. There’s always food. Anne-Marie Imafidon thinks girls should go on and work in STEM to help solve the world’s problems and I sooooo agree with her.

I like all the Hidden Figures mathematicians who helped to get human beings into space. Stephen Hawking is an impressive multi-tasker and so is Beyonce. Stephen Hawking is a cosmologist as well as a theoretical physicist and Beyonce is a mum as well as a musical genius. They are like me cos I had to babysit and do my homework at the same time.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
The best thing about doing projects is meeting people who help you with your project. They might see a way to do things that you would never have thought of. Bekki the Fairy helped me out when my particle accelerator didn’t work. I was stuck. I had made a machine for looking at particles and it wasn’t working. My machine was seven feet long and they really need to be about 17 miles like the Hadron Collider.

Miss Treacle has a friend who worked at CERN, the amazing centre in Switzerland where they built the giant Hadron Collider. He helped me and Miss Treacle to design a linear collider. Our collider was good, it was just a bit small for the job.

Well, I got stuck and didn’t know what to do. Bekki the Fairy did a fab spell that let me see particles and take pictures of them on my phone. Now the project is done and other scientists can use the information we found.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Ask for help. Honestly, some girls are such jelly-babies when it comes for asking for help. A supportive group is the best thing.

With my project looking for particles I got the other babysitters to help me collect Eezee Sneezee tissue boxes to build my particle accelerator. So, when I won it was like we all won. That’s science for you.

Favorite website or app:
Astronomy Photo of the Day. I like looking at the places that I will travel to one day so I like NASA’s site.

Website: avriloreilly.com. Geeky Mikita stars in A Fairy in the Family Again by Avril O’Reilly.

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Islin Munisteri, EIT, Petroleum Reservoir Engineer

Islin Munisteri, EIT

Petroleum Reservoir Engineer

State of Alaska, Department of Natural Resources


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I enjoy the thrill of solving a challenge. Long story short is that I was a weather junkie, but didn’t realize the full potential of jobs out there in STEM until I was trying to decide what college to attend. Full story here.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I worked on was building a reservoir simulation from the ground up. The simulation, using rock and fluid data from the field, creates production profiles of oil, gas and water based on certain constraints in the system, such as the number of wells drilled, facility, and flowline capacities. The simulation I built later helped to guide approximately $200 million in drilling a well! I worked with geophysicists, a geologist, and a petrophysicist to make it happen.

Role models and heroes:
My biggest role models are my parents (though still hard to admit at times), my husband, my teachers in public school growing, particularly Mrs. McAfoos, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Bartholomew, and Mr. Richardson. In university, it was Dr. Graves, hands down. I remember crying to her about structural geology, and she basically told me to not forfeit my entire degree on this one course, and to buy some Play-Doh to learn about faulting and folding. At work, it has been my colleagues and senior men and women who have continued supporting me. You know who you are.

My heroes are the women and men who are in Society of Women Engineers or Pink Petro. We are all supporting each other up the jungle gym of life!

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I absolutely love the collaborative atmosphere of working in the energy industry. I get to work with landmen (and landwomen), geologists, geophysicists, production engineers, facilities engineers, petrophysicists, CEOs—the list goes on! The industry is truly multidisciplinary and so you can get a multitude of different opinions on any one problem.

The best way I can say it is that six years after I graduated college, working in STEM feels like home.

Advice for future STEMinists?

  • Go where your interests lay—your curiosity is the biggest clue on what to do next. Learn to listen to yourself and your intuition
  • Get a community of people to support you—not just your parents, but friends, professors, engineers, computer scientists—the list goes on. I can tell you, that if it wasn’t for my husband (who was my college sweetheart), mentors and the Society of Women Engineers, I wouldn’t have continued to be an engineer today.
  • Run the economics. See how much an average chemist vs. English major vs. petroleum engineer makes per year. See how much your lifestyle at your parent(s)’ house costs. You would be surprised. You shouldn’t choose a major solely for the money, but you should know what you are signing up for, eyes wide open.
  • Trust yourself and your own judgement. There will be times in the future when management will ask you, “What does your judgement say?” and you will have to respond on the spot.

Favorite website or app:
My favorite website is Pink Petro (www.pinkpetro.com)! I’m helping Katie Mehnert bootstrap her startup and it is just getting started. It is a private social community for women and men in the energy industry—a safe space to discuss challenges, trials, and tribulations.

My favorite app would have to be Overdrive. It connects to audiobooks and e-books by using your library account. Right now I’m listening to “Still Alice” and it’s absolutely heartwrenching, but it is good therapy for the soul.

Twitter: @munisteri

Site: islinmunisteri.com

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Flor Serna, Audio Engineer & Executive Director of Electric Girls

Flor Serna

Audio Engineer & Executive Director of Electric Girls

Electric Girls


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I first started recording music in my bedroom when I was 16. I attended Loyola University New Orleans for the Music Industry program and started training and working at their recording studio to become an audio engineer. Audio engineering combined my two favorite things, music and technology, but it wasn’t long before I realized that I was the only female in the studio after two whole years. I left Loyola as an audio engineer and started obsessively researching the gender gap in STEM. I eventually founded Electric Girls in 2015.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Electric Girls is my current project. It is a non-profit organization I started at the beginning of this year to engage girls in STEM. We teach young girls electronics, audio, programming and design and then give them the resources to use these new skills to build their own creative projects. We emphasize peer mentorship with badges. Our mission is to create a community of young girls and women inspiring each other to be leaders and learners in STEM.

I had very few female role models to look up to while I was becoming an audio engineer, so Electric Girls gives me hope that young girls might have female role models (and eventually become the next generation of role models!) to encourage and inspire them in their journey with a STEM career.

Role models and heroes:
Limor Fried (engineer and founder of Adafruit) inspired me to found Electric Girls and teaches me so much about being a confident female in STEM.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love that absolutely anyone can achieve a career in STEM. There are no prerequisites or predetermining factors- just hard work and passion for the field. Because of this, I work with and meet wonderful new people everyday.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Be open minded! Explore the possibilities for your love of science, tech, engineering and math. There are an infinite number of things you can accomplish or careers you can choose from, so try not to bind yourself down too early.

Don’t give up! No matter what, being a STEMinist takes lots of hard work. You will most definitely feel discouraged at some point, but have courage and push through difficult times, because in the end it will be worth it.

Favorite website or app:
Instructables! At Electric Girls, our girls design their own projects and then upload instructions for how to build them on the Instructables website. We also get inspiration for cool electronics ideas from this site. It’s a great community of makers and inventors.

Twitter: @electricgirlsed

Site: electricgirls.org

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Ghilane Bragagnolo, Research engineer

Ghilane Bragagnolo

Research engineer

McLaren Automotive- University of Surrey


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I love my job as a researcher, I love thinking I am making the difference, working on understanding something that it’s still unknown. A car is not just something nice to look at, but behind that cool design there is the work of a team that aims to improve the car performances and this requires the understanding of a wide number of parameters such as materials, aerodynamics and electronics.

When someone asks me what do I do for living and I say that I’m a mechanical engineer, I’ve always found funny to see their surprised and full of merci faces! People get scared when they hear the word ‘engineer’. Honestly, I quite like the look of admiration painted on people faces!! but at the same time I would like them to understand that it’s not just a bunch of numbers and math, but it can actually be quite fun! This is the reason I became a STEM ambassador, to transmit what I do to the public, starting to children who have to believe that engineering is not scary but something everyone can do and enjoy.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My doctorate project of course! For now, it is the most interesting project I have been working on. I am focusing in crush structures, composite materials and modeling/simulation techniques. This is not just a very challenging area but it is also very exciting! I consider myself lucky to be working with such a great company and to be able to touch by hand the results of my work.

Role models and heroes:
My parents. My dad is not just a model for me but he is my one and only hero. He built his own company from zero, as self learner, and he is the smartest person I have ever met. My mum is, on the other hand, one of the strongest women I know.

I would like to mention some of the women I heard about, who have a very good job and at the same time are good mothers, who take their children to school and go to their lacrosse and football games. However, I have never met one of those yet, and I am quite sceptic about it. But it is for sure something I would like to aspire to.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I enjoy the challenge of being a researcher and at the same time developing professional skills thanks to the link with the company. I am half way through my doctorate and I have already learnt so much. Every day is unique, you can be in the labs, in the office, at conferences or at meetings. With every day comes a new challenge and that certainly keeps things interesting.

During my last high school year, while I was choosing which degree to pursue, my mum was concerned about her daughter getting into in a male-dominated area. One of my teachers told her: ‘ She can do anything she wants, tell her she can and she will’. Sometimes, hearing from the outside that you can do something it really helps you to believe you can. I like going into schools talking to young people about my career. I like to think that if they meet someone they admire and aspire to, they can push to get there.

Advice for future STEMinists?
It is such a rewarding career that you will forget how difficult and stressful it had been to get there! Do what you love and make of a job your passion, it will feel more like a hobby than a job!

Favorite website or app: LinkedIn

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Jennifer Davis, Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy at Planar Systems

Jennifer Davis

Vice President of Marketing and Product Strategy at Planar Systems

Planar Systems


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I pursued a degree in the liberal arts, studying history with the intention of writing and teaching, when a mentor of mine challenged me. He said “before you go out to write history, why don’t you make some history first?” I got an internship in college at a software start-up and that started my career in high technology, which has led to me to positions at Intel and now Planar. I enjoy the pace of the business, the innovation that I am surrounded by, and the personal opportunities for growth.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
It is hard to choose just one! One that comes to mind is working on the architectural video wall product that Planar launched a few years ago called Planar® Mosaic™. This was a new category of product that required coordination and influence around the globe: with suppliers, specifiers, and customers. To see the projects that people are now doing with this video product is very satisfying as they look like they walked out of my early strategy presentations when the idea was first pitched and green lighted. In this process, I was able to use my skills of visioning, influence, teamwork, and strategy and to see something brand new come to market.

Role models and heroes:
I have had the pleasure to work with many great leaders throughout my career and to be influenced by many professionals through their books, blogs, speeches, and podcasts. As a woman in technology, I admire what Meg Whitman, Sheryl Sandberg, and Marissa Mayer have done to pave the way for women in top roles. I have gotten great advice from my colleagues and managers over the years and am learning things each week from my own team and peers at Planar. And I remember one of my first managers, Roxanna, who taught those of us who worked in her retail store the power of servant leadership.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love innovation. I love doing things never before imagined. I like being on the cutting-edge of technology and helping to lead people to it’s true benefits. I like working on smart, capable teams who are empathetic advocates for our customers.

Advice for future STEMinists?
First off, you can have a wonderful career in STEM if you apply yourself, persevere, and seek out feedback along the way. Don’t shy away from being a subject matter expert, with hands-on and in-depth experience in a particular area of study.

Favorite website or app:
I use Evernote. I use it on my desktop, phone, and on my smart watch. When a blog idea strikes me for atjenniferdavis.com or for the Planar blog, with the touch of a button I can jot down the note for future reference.

Twitter: @jenniferdavis

Site: atjenniferdavis.com