Monthly Archives

December 2012

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Ty Darensburg, Educational Analyst

Ty Darensburg, MS

Educational Analyst

Recovery School District, New Orleans



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I found my way to a STEM major accidentally. I started off in college as a Political Science/Pre-Law major, but was talking Calculus III as an elective because I registered late. My Calculus III instructor convinced me to consider changing my major to Mathematics. I did, and the rest is history. went on to get my Master’s degree in Biostatistics, worked in the education field for over 10 years, and finally found a way to combine my passion for education with my background in analysis.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I did an internship with the CDC when I first graduated from college. They allowed me to pick my own project and I did a study on PTSD and depression among Buffalo, NY police officers. It was my first time analyzing such a large data set, and my first publication as first author. I looked at differences based on gender, experience, age, etc. It was really exciting, and a glimpse into what I could do with data.

Role models/heroes:
My mom is my role model. She started out working at McDonalds, and through hard work and dedication, she earned her Bachelor’s degree after having 3 children, and now she travels the world and manages clinical trials. She showed me what it’s like to have a vision for your life, and achieve it no matter how the odds are stacked up against you. She made me feel like I could do or be anything when I was growing up.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because it’s challenging, exciting, and there’s no limit to what you can do.

Advice for future STEMinists?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…” -Marianne Williamson

My advice to you is to work hard in your Math & Science classes; look at them with new eyes and take opportunities for enrichment in STEM fields. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you can’t do something or you’re in any way inferior. One of my really good friends always told me, “Don’t tell yourself no, let someone else tell you no.” For example, don’t say I’m not going to apply for this program, because I’m not going to get in. Apply, and let them decide. They might say yes or no. It’s your job to keep pushing until you get a yes, and I’m telling you that you will get a yes.

Favorite website/app: Too many to name.

Twitter: @TyeSquared

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Maria Felice, Research Engineer, University of Bristol

Maria Felice

Research Engineer

University of Bristol / Rolls-Royce Plc.



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I loved maths and wanted a job that involved people and solving problems.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My undergraduate final year project because I saw it go from start to finish.

Role models/heroes:
Too many to mention, but a lot of my fellow Girl Geek Dinner Attendees.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I get to solve real world problems.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Do what you enjoy. Don’t worry about moving around sectors and embrace your gender but don’t give it too much thought!

Favorite website/app: Twitter!

Twitter: @maria_engineer

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Kristen Sager Cincotta, Neuroscience Ph.D. Graduate

Kristen Sager Cincotta

Occupation: ORISE fellow/guest public health policy researcher

Organization: CDC



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I liked learning about how things work, especially within the body, and I loved my science classes in grade school. Science felt more like playing than my other classes, which were mostly memorizing and regurgitating things. When I realized that I could have a career in science that might actually help us solve some of the greatest problems facing the world today, instead of helping someone else make money selling something, I was all in.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My graduate work all focused on Alzheimer’s Disease, and in particular, a receptor protein that appears to manipulate the production of ABeta, the primary component of amyloid plaques. At one point, I got to work on a project attempting to identify novel compounds that could interact with and redirect my receptor around the cell, thus giving us a way to control ABeta production.

It was a highly translational project that could have significant ramifications for our ability to treat, or more likely, to prevent Alzheimer’s disease in patients. I found it very exciting to be working on something with that type of applicability to a very real problem. Plus, I got to use some seriously cool robotics in setting up the high throughput compound screenings!

Role models/heroes:
My undergraduate advisor, Dr. Jean Hardwick and the women of the Ithaca College Biology Department who showed me that women can run not just their own labs, but entire scientific departments. Mary Lasker, Nancy Brinker, and Laura Ziskin, who all identified important gaps in our public health system (especially regarding cancer) and worked (or are working) to do something about it. My mother, whose strength and resolve in living her life with Stage IV breast cancer is a daily reminder that some things are worth fighting for.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Because it’s fun and it’s important in equal measure. Scientists get to play with interesting equipment and techniques, see things most people never do, and spend days and weeks thinking about and trying to answer questions that most people don’t have the time to even consider. And scientists have the ability to change the world for the better.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Support each other, especially up-and-coming women in science. For whatever reason, women in STEM can be very judgmental of their fellow STEMinists. It almost feels like there’s an unspoken belief that if we broaden the field to allow more women in, we will be diminishing the accomplishments of the STEMinist trail blazers that went before us. It’s a weird paradox that I was disheartened to discover. We should be opening our arms and supporting all women in STEM, not self-selecting those we feel are the “right” type of female scientist.

Favorite website/app:
Twitter – it’s my news feed and communications outlet all in one!

Website: www.KristenCincotta.com
Twitter: @kscincotta

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Meagan Pollock, Engineering Education Consultant, Doctoral Candidate

Meagan Pollock

Engineering Education Consultant, Doctoral Candidate

Meagan Pollock Consulting, Purdue University



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
At 18, I sat in the biology lab chatting about the future with one of my favorite teachers, Mrs. Reeves. A quiet interruption, my other favorite teacher, Mrs. Estes, walks in from the chemistry lab to speak with Mrs. Reeves. Pardoning the interruption, she began to describe this program that Texas Instruments (TI) was trying to begin to encourage women to become engineers. You see, her cousin worked as a professor at Texas Woman’s University (TWU), and was involved with writing the grant and proposing the program. The objective of the program was to offer fellowships to math and computer science majors at TWU to then encourage them to pursue a master’s level degree in electrical engineering. All the while, having a partnership with TI throughout their education for internship experience.

Mrs. Estes said to me, “Meagan, you’d be a perfect candidate for this program!” I laughed without a second thought (why would I want to go to a women’s university?!) and excused myself from the room. About half-way down the hall I stopped dead in my tracks… I’d applied to a dozen schools, been accepted with mediocre scholarships for education and interior design, fields I had no true to desire to pursue… It was as if time froze and forced me to reconsider. As I turned around there stood Mrs. Estes at the door. Before I could utter a word, she said, “My cousin’s name is Dr. Hargrave.”

I called TWU and the grant hadn’t gone through yet, so they weren’t considering applicants. Being a somewhat ambitious overachiever, I made my own application, essay included, and sent it to TWU. Within a few weeks, after a couple of follow-up phone calls, the department invited me to come visit the campus and meet the professors of the department. After touring a while, we settled in the department chair’s office to wrap up the visit. Dr. Edwards finished typing something and it began to print. He handed me a letter in which I then read silently. It was a letter offering me a full-ride to TWU. Dr. Edwards replied, “Meagan, we don’t have the money from the TI grant yet, but we want you to join us here and will make certain you are taken care of.” Graciously, I accepted… and the rest is history.

In summary, even though I liked math, science, and computer science, I never considered a career in these fields until I was encouraged by a teacher, and provided the opportunity to pursue a future in STEM through a scholarship. Educators, parents, and STEM professionals alike have a tremendous responsibility to encourage young women to consider careers in engineering, technology, as well as science and math. In addition, we can work together to break down barriers and build pathways for young women in STEM.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Coolest Engineering Project: My master’s thesis (2007) and subsequent research while practicing as an engineer was a study of the permeation & diffusion of moisture through the window bondline adhesive for the digital micromirror device (DMD), the key component in the Digital Light Processing (DLP) system. You are probably most familiar with this technology at your local digital cinema, but there are also incredible applications for medical devices that help people! The DLP projection system is comprised of a light source, optics, signal formatting processors and electronics, a color application (color wheel, LEDs, or lasers), and the DMD device. My research study learning about how moisture permeates and affects the DMD helped to enable new markets for DLP in smaller devices like cell phones, and portable medical devices.

Coolest Engineering Education Project: My dissertation research is a multiple case study analysis of high school females’ experiences in engineering, with consideration of the influences of their gender, race, and class. The literature identifies that gender, race, and class influences experiences, and that this intersection is important to understand. However, it has not been explored among females in high school engineering. Insights gleaned from case studies can directly influence policy, procedures, future research, as well as improve or enhance learning and teaching. The goal of the study is to richly describe the diversity of females’ experiences in engineering. Then, a cross-case analysis of the participants will provide a stronger and more compelling characterization, representative of the true diversity of experiences among high school females in engineering courses. The findings will inform curriculum developers and educators, improving the instruction of engineering for female students, and thus positively influencing the disparity in the field.

Role models/heroes:
Tegwin Pulley is a champion for diversity and has been a pioneer and advocate for women since the 60s. She is a role model and mentor to me for her commitment to the community, and to providing access, and equity for all.

Wanda Gass is a retired Fellow of Texas Instruments, and she was one of the first women to be named to this high technical distinction at TI. She excelled as a female engineer in an environment that was not welcoming to her. She is a role model and mentor.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Careers in STEM are exciting and diverse! As an engineer, I believe I am a trained problem solver and prepared to tackle almost anything. I love collaborating with smart and creative people, and I love knowing I am making a difference in the world!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Women make great engineers, and engineers are our future. Don’t be intimidated, and don’t give up! Encourage and support other women and girls in STEM, and believe that you can and will succeed, too. Finally, find a mentor and advocate to help you navigate your way, and don’t ever be afraid to ask for help!

Favorite website/app:
http://engineeryourlife.org/ – a guide to engineering for high school girls, with tools for parents and counselors too! See videos and read stories of real women engineers.

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science_careers.shtml – Want to know more about careers in science, technology, engineering, or math? Browse through detailed information on over 100 careers to discover what scientists really do and what it takes to prepare for these careers. Each career profile provides basic career information such as salary, job outlook, degree requirements, etc. They have also included videos featuring interviews with real scientists or on the job profiles.

http://www.teachengineering.org/ – The TeachEngineering digital library provides teacher- tested, standards-based engineering content for K-12 teachers to use in science and math classrooms. Engineering lessons connect real-world experiences with curricular content already taught in K-12 classrooms.

Website: www.MeaganPollock.com
Twitter: @MeaganPollock
Facebook: Engineering Equity in Education

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Stéphanie Couvreur, Physics PhD Student

Stéphanie Couvreur

Physics PhD Student

Université Paris Diderot – Matière et Systèmes Complexes Laboratory



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I think curiosity was my main motivation to pursue a career in science, the curiosity of understanding the world around you. As a child, I had always wanted to become an archaeologist. When I grew up, I participated in excavations and during the same time, at school, I was really enjoying maths and physics, their way to explain phenomena. So I decided to study science and more specifically physics in order to work at the frontier between science, archaeology and art history in datation and scientific analyses.

I was very lucky to work in this field during an internship in the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France (Research and Conservation Center for French Museums). But finally, during my physics studies, I enjoyed more and more hydrodynamics, a field where you directly “see” what you study. I particularly appreciated the beauty of the phenomena, and how you can often observe them in your daily life! For me, understanding them adds a form of beauty to life. That is how I decided to pursue a career in physics and to do my PhD in hydrodynamics.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
During my studies and now as a PhD student, I worked as a science explainer in this amazing science museum in Paris called Palais de la Découverte. The particularity of this museum is science shows: there are about 60 of them every day in many different topics! In the physics department, we deal with various subjects, from basic electrostatics to superconductivity, passing by sound waves. We have the opportunity to use impressive facilities like a electromagnet which reproduces a magnetic field 10 000 times bigger than the Erath’s one, using a current of 500 Ampers!

In this museum, you surprise the public with phenomena they don’t expect, their eyes are shiny and they have an expression of interrogation on their face. Then you explain the science and you make the public happy by explaining to them what is going on. For me, it is amazing to make discovering physics to people in a way they like it. I just want to increase their curiosity towards science. I went to this museum as a child, then as a teenager and now as a physicist and I have always learned so many things there. In particular, interacting with the public brings you a lot of questions, about the pedagogy of course but also about the physics itself.

Role models/heroes:
Sophie Germain was one of the first women mathematician. She had to pretend to be a boy to follow science class in the “École Polytechnique”. She exchanged many letters with Gauss.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I love observing phenomena in my daily-life in a new way. For example, at breakfast, when you let flow honey from your spoon to your muffin, the honey spins when hitting the bread; then you mix your cup of tea and tea leaves go in the center of your cup; whereas some tea leaves stay at the surface of the liquid and aggregate…in all these current phenomena, there are some beautiful physics inside. It makes me see the life with another look! 🙂

Advice for future STEMinists?
Go for it, I am sure you will enjoy it! 🙂 For now there are few women in some fields (as physics for example) but don’t be afraid about that, just show you are as smart as a man!

Twitter: @stephaniecouv

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Karen Purcell, Principal Electrical Engineer

Karen Purcell

Principal Electrical Engineer

PK Electrical, Inc.



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always loved math and science. When I was applying to college, my high school physics teacher suggested that I try engineering. I asked him “What do engineers do?” It was his response that sold me. Basically it boiled down to “lots of things.”

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My firm works on so many cool projects. I think that one of them has been the Center for Molecular Medicine at the University of Nevada Reno. This was a 100,000 square foot research lab facility. Our engineering design created the plans for the lighting, power and communication systems design. PK Electrical also works on a lot of healthcare projects, which happens to be my favorite area of design. Many of our projects have also won industry awards.

Role models/heroes:
Sally Ride is definitely one of my heroes/role models. She made such huge progress for women by being the first woman in space. Also, her website and associated programs have provided and abundance of information and resources for girls and woman. There are also some fabulous business owners and high ranking executives within the STEM fields that I admire such as Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. As a business owner, I can certainly understand and relate to some of their daily struggles and accomplishments.

Why do you love working in STEM?
It is the most challenging yet most rewarding career. I love the fact that in the type of engineering that I do you put together a design on paper and then you see it become a reality once the building or project is constructed. Every project is different and each with its own challenges. Working on problems and coming up with solutions is so fulfilling and gratifying to me.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Be true to yourself. Follow your dreams. If math and science are subjects that you like and are passionate about then explore your options. Find a mentor.

Favorite website/app:
None that are really my favorite. I get on a variety of websites/apps – of course I prefer the STEM related sites.

Website: unlockingyourbrilliance.com, stemspire.com, pkelectrical.com
Twitter: @stemspire