STEMinist Profile: Jin K. Montclare, Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jin K. Montclare

Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Polytechnic Institute of New York University

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
While I was always interested in science and math as a young girl, it was through the encouragement of my teachers, mentors and family that led me to my career. I was really fortunate to have had a number of wonderful teachers and mentors throughout my life who cheered me on even when there were times I had doubts about my path.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The beauty about my job is that I am constantly engaged in cool projects with new discoveries and data. Right now, the project that has been occupying my mind has been our “smart biomaterials” work. My students and I designed and fabricated engineered proteins that are comprised of two parts: one that can form a cylinder for binding small molecules/drugs (derived from a coiled coiled protein) and another that can assemble/disassemble as function of temperature (from elastin).

When fused, the resulting hybrid proteins self-assemble into nanoparticles that can encapsulate drugs and upon sensing a particular temperature, trigger aggregation and release. These materials have interesting implications in medicine and drug delivery.

Role models and heroes:
I believe I have been extremely fortunate to have in my life a set of role models (both men and women) that have played a significant role in shaping my career. These include my teachers, professors, advisors and colleagues. However, the most influential role model in my life has been my grandmother. She was a living example of persistence, diligence and character.

She had lost her husband and had to raise four very young children while working as a nurse at an orphanage. Through sheer determination, she was able to successfully raise her children into adulthood as well as help raise me and my brother. She was the one who came over to the US and sent money to bring all her children over. Her strength during her incredible life has been a source of support for me and when I am in a predicament, I draw from her strength.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love working in STEM as what I do as a scientist/engineer and educator can really make a difference in the world. The research on the proteins we fabricate in the lab have implications in medicine, electronics, energy and the environment. The lessons I teach can inspire the next generation of scientist/engineers.

Advice for future STEMinists?
My advice to others is to follow your passion and surround yourself with support. I fully recognize that the STEM path is not easy, but I can attest that it is rewarding. While there may be individuals who may question or belittle your decisions in pursuing STEM, I suggest you develop selective hearing in which you simply tune down those individuals and tune those who support you.

Favorite website or app:
Twitter, Evernote, Lewis Dots (our chemistry app)

Twitter: @jkmontclare

Site: Tumblr, Faculty page, Facebook, Research Lab

STEMinist Profile: Kari L. Jordan, Graduate Research Associate, Engineering Education

Kari Jordan

Kari L. Jordan

Graduate Research Associate

The Ohio State University Engineering Education Innovation Center

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and am currently a Doctoral Candidate in Engineering Education. I was inspired by my father. He works for Ford Motor Company as President of the UAW. I grew up around cars, and my mother even allowed me to participate in the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP). Because of my parents’ encouragement I attended the Minorities in Engineering summer program at Michigan Tech University while I was in High School. I went on to receive two degrees from Michigan Tech and this December I’ll be done with my PhD from Ohio State!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project I worked on was developing a flow model to predict pressure drop in a diesel fuel system. I did this when I interned at Ford Motor Company. This project was cool because it allowed me to use the skills I learned in my Fluid Mechanics class. I also had a chance to work with my hands in the fuel lab.

Role models and heroes:
My role models are my parents, Dr. Njema Frazier, and the “Chicago Six”. My parents are my role models because they have supported me throughout my long tenure in school and I’ve watched them overcome obstacles I would not have been able to overcome. Dr. Njema Frazier is a nuclear physicist I’ve grown to know and love through our work with the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). She is the most passionate woman I know and she’s a genius! The “Chicago Six” are the founders of NSBE and they’re my heroes because I would not have made it through the engineering program without NSBE. My ultimate hero is Jesus Christ. Enough said!

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because a career in STEM will launch you into any career in the world: business, music, fashion, medicine, law, the list goes on. You can literally do anything you want with a STEM degree. Not many people have that privilege.

Advice for future STEMinists?
My advice for future STEMinist is to join some type of mentoring circle. You will not make it through any STEM program by yourself. You are not an island!

Favorite website or app:
My favorite website is I am a licensed Zumba instructor and I’m always on our website looking for new music and gear to wear in my classes! My favorite app right now is Instagram. I’m a bit addicted to posting random photos!

Twitter: @elle_kari


STEMinist Profile: Karin Remington, Chief Technology and Science Officer

Kate Remington

Karin Remington

Chief Technology and Science Officer

Arjuna Solutions

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I was quick at learning math facts as a kid, and with that head start, I lucked into seeing more advanced mathematics, starting with algebra, with the eyes of a kid: solving equations seemed like a fun game to me. In college and graduate school, I was challenged and humbled – but started seeing how my math courses helped with my science courses, and vice versa, and how my “game” way of thinking (which I now realize was developing ‘algorithms’) was really a bridge to computer science.

I don’t know that I was “pursuing a career in STEM” – I just kept finding ways to stay involved with something that seemed like play.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Best project ever: Genome assembly of the fruit fly. I was part of a small group at a start-up company called Celera Genomics that was banking on us being able to apply “whole-genome shotgun sequencing” to eventually obtain the sequence of the human genome. The fruit fly was our test case. We in the computer science group (which we called the “Assembly Team”) all were so excited by the challenge, knowing that if we could assemble the fruit fly genome, we’d be able to assemble the human genome as well. We worked long, long hours, but we all enjoyed a sense of shared mission and camaraderie.

We were in a set of cubicles, and would talk over the partitions, to troubleshoot problems. We’d meet in a “war-room” several times a week to make sure we were all going in the same direction. And we were able to cheer (literally) when the genome finally came together. The guys I worked with on this project are still my dear friends. Many of us have worked together on later projects, all very very cool, but this project really brought us all together with a huge challenge, and forged friendships and ideals that will last a lifetime.

Role models and heroes:
J.Craig Venter: I worked with Craig for many years, and love his amazing ability to take an intuition or idea and turn it into a project with resources and shared enthusiasm to reach the targeted goal.

Jeremy Berg: Jeremy led the NIH’s National Institute of General Medical Sciences from 2003-2011, His training is in chemistry, but he was an active champion of computational biology, informatics, and mathematics at NIH during his tenure. He recently joined Pitt, and is leading its newly established “Institute of Personalized Medicine.”

Jill Mesirov: Jill is director of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the Broad Institute, and is an accomplished researcher in the fields of bioinformatics, genomics and computational biology. She’s got a great research program, and also finds time to speak with a strong voice on many committees that significantly influence federal research directions.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I enjoy being able to indulge in play while I work. Developing algorithms seems like play to me, so when that is my agenda for the day, I am really happy.

Advice for future STEMinists?

Particularly with other women in STEM fields. And across levels… don’t be shy to approach funding agencies, etc.

I’ve had a number of projects where all seemed lost, but the women involved were the force that made things turn around to success.

Favorite website or app:

Twitter: @remingka