STEMinist Profile: Nicole Trenholm, Program Director/Field Operations Scientist

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Nicole Trenholm

Program Director/Field Operations Scientist

Ocean Research Project

 



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
It is a deep-rooted passion of mine to embrace STEM throughout my life. I aim to contribute to society by researching the relationship between man and our planet’s oceans and encouraging sustainable solutions to nurture a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
In 2013, I spent 80 days offshore; after 20 some days commuting to my work site, I collected 40 sea surface plastic samples throughout the eastern extent of the North Atlantic Gyre, a Texas size survey. Plastic debris, a concoction of un-natural chemical pollutants, are peppered throughout Earth’s oceans and changing what was once a pristine watery wilderness. It is the toxicity absorbed in the material being exchanged between marine species to people and its impact on human health that scares me. I am sailing for science but for the betterment of all parties within the biosphere.

Role models and heroes: Benjamin Franklin, Ida Lewis, Rachel Carson

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Initially, pursuing STEM was not a thought, I steered away, taking cover from STEM-related intimidation and anxiety. I am in love with the natural sciences. I want to defend the environment; therefore, I decided to charge STEM and embrace it.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Take charge and defend our home! Learn the technical tools to be STEM capable. Experience science & engineering in a hands-on manner by being proactive by engaging in citizen science & tinkering. Build your STEM network for a bigger bang.

Site: oceanresearchproject.org

STEMinist Profile: Barbara A. Res, Professsional Engineer

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Barbara A. Res

Professsional Engineer

Res Construction Services LLC



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My guidance counselors told me to be a Math teacher because I had the highest math grades in my high school. I did not hear the word engineer once. I entered school as a poli sci major but fortunately my school had an engineering program and I was challenged to study it by some of the male students. Since I liked electricity in physics, I decided to pursue Electrical Engineering and I ended up working in construction.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
My coolest assignment was being in charge of construction of the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York City. By the time I went to work for Trump, I had been an assistant project manager, draftsperson, Mechanical Superintendent and Superintendent on various construction projects. I had a complete knowledge of all trades and was adept at management.

On Trump Tower, I got to build a complicated building and work with the celebrities who bought apartments. We put a swimming pool in one apartment on the 65th floor. The design challenges were illuminating and the personalities intriguing.

Role models and heroes:
Gloria Steinem is a hero. Unfortunately, because of the occupation I chose, there were no female role models. I had some men who were mentors. Think what you will, Donald Trump and his wife Ivana were my biggest promoters and he gave me unbelievable opportunities.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Construction is the most exciting business because it provides instant gratification. You can point to a building and say, I played a part in creating that. People see your work. I am particularly honored to have my name inscribed on a building I supervised at 667 Madison Ave in NYC.

Construction is challenging and never boring. Every day is different with new problems to solve.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Believe in yourself and your choices. You define the work you do, not the other way around. Don’t let anyone challenge your reasons for becoming an engineer. Don’t stand for harassment and intimidation. You have to pick your spots, and be a bit thick skinned, but any serious action must be reported.

Work very hard. Probably you will work harder than the men. I did. But you don’t have to, just do your best.

Find other women to work with and befriend, even if they are competition. Find a mentor and look for younger women you can help.

Favorite website or app: www.msmagazine.com

Twitter: @Barbararesesq
Site: www.constructionwoman.net

STEMinist Profile: Kelsie Coe, Medical Student

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Kelsie Coe

Medical Student

University of Missouri School of Medicine



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
It all really started with an interest in animals as a kid and few great science teachers. I found that my science classes were where I could learn all the “fun facts” about the world. I was always that kid that wanted tried to impress people with funny trivia tidbits (side note: I love Jeopardy!), and science classes always rewarded me for my curiosity.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Last summer I had the opportunity to be one of four Kappa Delta Orthopaedic Research Interns. We worked with amazing research scientists for six weeks, developed our own projects, presented our work, and had the opportunity to tour several health care facilities around the Memphis, TN area. Before the internship, I really hadn’t given much thought to orthopaedics, but the opportunity really opened my eyes to a historically male-dominated field. I really feel like it was a true STEMinist experience and showed me that we can totally recruit women into these fields if they just have the opportunity to see the value in the work they can do!

Role models and heroes:
Rosalind Franklin (I totally talked about her in my medical school interview!) and Amy Poehler.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Working in STEM means I can never be complacent with what I know and how I think, and I love that it forces me to be a lifetime learner. I also love that I have the chance to contribute to making it a more inclusive industry!

Advice for future STEMinists?
I feel incredibly fortunate to have had amazing mentors and supporters throughout my education. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people you admire, and don’t forget to pay it forward and mentor others that could use your advice or encouragement!

Favorite website or app:
I’ve been fangirling pretty hard over STEMinist lately, but as a medical student, my most visited website right now is probably my school’s library’s :)

Twitter: @k_coe

STEMinist Profile: Gina Trapani, Co-founder and CTO of ThinkUp

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Gina Trapani

Co-founder and CTO of ThinkUp

ThinkUp, http://thinkup.com

 



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
As a kid, I was shy and socially awkward, but very curious about figuring new things out. When my Dad brought home my family’s first computer I spent as many hours on it as I could, tinkering, playing games, writing BASIC. Later in life, I didn’t have a definitive moment where I made a conscious decision to pursue a career in STEM. But when I graduated, the dot-com boom was in full force and developer (particular web developer) jobs were everywhere. I was obsessed with the web, and programming was something I loved and was good at, so it just seemed natural to get onto that track.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
ThinkUp (http://thinkup.com) is a social media insights app I started building a few years ago, which I’m creating a company around right now. It’s the coolest project I’ve ever worked on because I’ve learned so much from dozens of open source volunteers from all over the world who have contributed code, filed issues, debated on the mailing list, and installed the app on their own servers. It started out as a very small-scope idea, and thanks to my cofounder and the community, it has blossomed into a pluggable platform that generates insights for any social media source, from Facebook to Twitter to Foursquare, YouTube, and Instagram. ThinkUp’s open source community has welcomed and mentored young coders and converted them into passionate, knowledge OSS contributors. I love being involved in something that helps people learn and grow through building software.

Role models and heroes:
Even the most heroic people are flawed, so I tend to not admire individuals as much as their work. That said, my role models are usually people who have redefined their jobs or industries, produced great works, endured extreme hardship, or all of the above. A few names that come to mind: Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alan Turing, Emily Dickinson, my grandmother.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
The possibilities. At this point in history, it feels like the possibilities of technology are limitless.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t overthink things. Just follow your gut and do it.

Favorite website or app: The web!

Twitter: @ginatrapani

Site: ginatrapani.org

STEMinist Profile: Irish Perez, Co-founder, Lead Online Business Developer

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Irish Perez

Co-founder, Lead Online Business Developer

Nerover

 

 



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Ever since I can remember, I have loved to design and draw anything from the scratch. I even have my own collection of comic books. My passion of designing and writing is always the main factor why I pursue my career online. Whenever people out of nowhere will encourage me or adore me just because of the blog I am writing or some designs that I have been playing, it pushes me further and let me think “Hey! I can do it also and I am good at it!” That magic feeling of satisfaction.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project is the startup I co-founded, Nerover. It allows me to use my skills on talking with a large group of people, encouraging, doing sales talk while I can play with the designs of features and interface online. What is more cool is that I don’t only focus on one niche but as a startup I was able to converse with different types of group of people. That teaches me a lot of facts and adaptability techniques.

Role models and heroes:
I found it funny whom I adore: Courage the cowardly dog. Courage is always afraid of everything but in the end he will be the one who will have a solution for any mishaps happening. These always remind me that its okay to be afraid; it’s part of the experience but make sure at the end you have a solution to conquer your fear. ;)

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Why do I love it? Because it is very exciting every day! Every day, it’s a different situation. On a daily basis I get some problems to solve, goals to achieve – it is always different from one another. I mean, compared to an office work where you have to do one work for how many years, working in STEM will not bore you. There’s no dull moment and there’s a lot of things you can learn. It’s like a school every day.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t stop learning and do the things that you love. It may be cliche but it really works. Even when you are working on different things and working the job that you don’t want, there will always be a way to include your craft on it and put your character on it every time.

Favorite website or app:
My favorite website is Udemy, they have a lot of free online courses and inspiring stories that push me as well every day.

Twitter: @irishjoy_s

Site: http://irish19.blogspot.ae/

STEMinist Profile: Julie Kientz, Assistant Professor – Univ. of Washington

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Julie Kientz

Assistant Professor

University of Washington


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I had wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember, but while I was in high school and doing a job shadowing project, I fainted while watching a dog undergoing surgery! I realized I probably needed to find a new career path after that. I had been spending a lot of time online and chatting with people on Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and was amazed by how useful the Internet was in connecting me to places and people beyond the small town where I grew up. One of my online friends encouraged me to try out programming, and so I did. It was really fun and I was hooked! After that, I decided to pursue computer science.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I am definitely really proud of the Baby Steps project I’ve been working on since about 2007. The idea is to help parents of young children track developmental progress in their children from birth through age 5 to help detect things like autism or other developmental delays sooner. The idea is that the information will be stored in a centralized database, so we have been working on ideas to use technology to reach parents no matter how they use technology or what their access to it might be. We’ve been using a software application, a website, Twitter, text messaging, and more to try to reach as many parents as we can! It’s been really rewarding to work on a project that can have the potential to help many different families. Also, now that I have my own daughter, I am finding it fun and really useful to use to track her development.

Role models and heroes:
Growing up, I remember really loving to read about Sally Ride, the first female astronaut. It really made me feel like I could do anything I wanted to, and that there was no job that was beyond reach because of my gender. I’m also a big fan of female computer scientists Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper and of Harvey Mudd’s current president, Maria Klawe.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love the feeling that I can create anything in the digital world and use those abilities to help others. Computer science is not just a bunch of math like a lot of people think, but it’s actually a creative process that requires a lot of different types of thinking. Also, the work I do in human-computer interaction involves both working with people to find out what they need and then developing prototypes of that technology and making those ideas come to life. This makes it both challenging and exciting.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Computers touch almost every aspect of our lives these days, and thus there are a number of opportunities to apply computer science to almost any thing that interests you, whether it’s healthcare, art, science, music, games, movies, or more. By combining your work with the things that interest you most, you can definitely enjoy it a lot more and feel good about it. Also, stick to it, even if it gets hard. There are a number of fun things you can do once you get really good at computing.

Favorite website or app:I really love my Fitbit, which I’ve been using for almost 3 years now. When you spend a lot of time with computers, it’s really easy to spend a lot of time not moving. My Fitbit keeps me accountable for making sure I get enough activity, and it also is fun to go back and look at the data and compete with friends for the highest number of steps.

Twitter: @juliekientz

Site: faculty.washington.edu/jkientz

STEMinist Profile: Marguerite Evans-Galea, Scientist/Senior Research Officer

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Marguerite (Maggie) Evans-Galea

Scientist, Senior Research Officer, Team Leader

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I had always been a curious child who loved animals and nature. My brother and I used to collect tadpoles from the local pond and watch them develop. I also relished (still do) Sir David Attenborough’s incredible documentaries, but really fell in love with ‘the molecular’ when I watched “Race for the Double Helix”.

But I had a double-love in science and music. I had considered being a music therapist, and this is initially why I did my double degree – B. Music and B. Science – but I was ultimately bitten by the science bug. After graduating, I went onto postgraduate studies in science and here I am.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
It is often the way that the coolest project is the one you are working on at the time. But I have finally found the ‘big picture’ topic I wish to pursue for the rest of my career. I am excited to be developing novel biomarkers and therapies for severely debilitating neurodegenerative disease. This work contains all of the most fascinating aspects of my scientific training – all meshed together!

Role models and heroes:
Role models/heroes in science: Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, David Attenborough, Peter Doherty, Brian Schmidt and my husband – all are ‘true’ scientists, minus the ego.

Other role models/heroes: Maya Angelou, Ludwig van Beethoven, the Dalai Lama, Carrie Fisher, Nick Vijucic and my Mum – all extraordinary individuals who overcame immense challenges in their lives.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love helping people. Severely debilitating disease can rob an individual of their independence, their quality of life and sometimes even their dignity and hope. People whose lives are touch by serious disease never fail to inspire. Whether across the table or across borders – they are incredibly strong; always supporting each other, their families and themselves.

Scientific research is a lifeline. It is a glimmer on the horizon – an opportunity to restore belief in the impossible. Adding to our knowledge about a disease and exploring potential treatments that could go from bench-to-beside, makes me feel like I am doing something very ‘real’ and useful every single day. After all, the medicines prescribed by our doctors every day were first developed in the laboratory. It is extremely rewarding!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Do what you love to do. Recognise your talents, broaden your scope and look beyond what you see. Science is just one word that encompasses a universe of questions, knowledge, expertise, opportunities and professions! Dream big and go for it!

Favorite website or app:
Twitter – great online networking tool.

Twitter: @MVEG001

STEMinist Profile: Rachel Reese, Software Engineer/Math Geek

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Rachel Reese

Software Engineer/Math Geek


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
First, my family. I was given lots of opportunities as a kid to go to Science Camps, and Girls in Engineering programs; my mother made sure we had a computer in the house in the 80s; and my great-grandfather’s engineering achievements were always lauded. I also had books of logic puzzles constantly around, and was just basically allowed to explore and play with STEM-focused games. I think moving into algebra and learning about “x” in junior high math cemented it for me. Math was quickly my favorite subject, and I was always at or near the top of my math class. I suppose I consider Math — Algebra, really; the Algebra of groups, rings, and fields, not of “x” — to be my first love, and it still holds a very special place in my heart. :-)

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Early in ’09, I was chatting with a bunch of friends, and we happened upon the fact that 3 of us in that group had been laid off within the month. One of the guys mentioned that a couple folks up in San Francisco had run a LaidOffCamp — a wholly volunteer event for people to gain new job search skills, find a supportive community, and craft a more productive job search (from http://laidoffcampaz.com/) — and then casually suggested we have one in Phoenix. Off and on for the next several months, (and as time went on, mostly on, even after I was back at a full-time job), I spearheaded the event, gathering speakers, volunteers, and sponsors, as well as sorting out a venue, the schedule, and all those little things that go into an event. It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.

(After the first event, I handed over the reins to Susan Baier, who has grown the event tremendously. See link above.)

Role models and heroes:
Emmy Noether and Annie Oakley.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
Because I love exploring, solving problems, and rising to a challenge!

Advice for future STEMinists?
Keep a list somewhere of some of the things you’re most proud of having done, or been involved in. Refer to it when things aren’t going well, and remind yourself what makes you unique. Find a mentor (or several) as soon as you can, and find supportive coworkers, or other folks at your level. I’ve always been pretty heavily involved in the dev community — I attend (and now speak at) conferences and user groups — and the folks I’ve met there have absolutely made the difference when I needed advice on a project, times were tough, or I was receiving conflicting information on career paths. Join a “Women in ” group, if there is one (or start one!), especially if you’re tiring of feeling like the only woman you know. Stay involved! Science is cool.

Favorite website or app:
Oof, this might be the toughest one. I’m going to go with Hulu, Audible, and Pandora. Those are in an entertainment equivalence class, and so they totally count as one, right? ;-)

Twitter: @rachelreese

Web: http://rachelree.se

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STEMinist Profile: Anna Sutton Stinson, Project Geologist

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Anna Sutton Stinson

Project Geologist

Stantec


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I always had fairly broad interests as a child. My mother is an artist and my father is an English professor, but both of them had broad interests as well, including farming and horses to chemistry, woodworking, and music. I loved science fiction and cosmology always fascinated me, and in high school I wanted to major in planetary science. I ended up majoring in astronomy and minoring in geology, but after I discovered geology included camping trips to beautiful places, I switched my major to geology and stuck with it. Developing the skills to observe the natural world and be able to put together a story about how it came to be that way is very satisfying to me.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I now work in environmental consulting, investigating and re-mediating petroleum and hazardous materials spills. My company says I assist our clients to comply with governmental regulations and best business practices. My drillers say I put dirt in jars. I also sometimes put groundwater and air in jars. The jars are then sent to laboratories for analysis, we interpret what contaminants are where and how they are moving and changing, and then we plan how to best limit risks to human health and the environment.

The coolest project I have worked on was doing environmental investigations at a large oil refinery. Ninety years of spills, leaks, and explosions made for lots of soil and groundwater contamination to hunt down and fix. Working at the refinery required very specific health and safety training, an FBI background check, and you had to wear fire resistant coveralls and a hydrogen sulfide gas meter.

Hydrogen sulfide gas can kill quickly, so we were trained to drop everything and run cross-wind and then up-wind if the alarm ever went off. Luckily, I never had to put that into practice. The refinery was a fascinating place to work, it was like its own small city, and there were always lots of big machinery and vehicles rumbling around through the tank farms and flare stacks.

Role models and heroes:
Sally Ride, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, Florence Nightingale, Hildegard von Bingen, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because it is an opportunity to seek out unfamiliar situations and really challenge myself or push my limits.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t be afraid to question and challenge gender stereotypes, even the tiniest ones. Often they are perpetuated simply because no one asks “why?” or “why not?”. Don’t let others define you, do what you enjoy and be yourself.

Favorite website or app:
http://rumsey.mapranksearch.com/ Check out some old maps!

Twitter: @annasutton

STEMinist Profile: Natalie Panek, Mission Systems Engineer

Natalie Panek

Natalie Panek

Mission Systems Engineer

MDA Space Missions


What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
My career in STEM began with a dream to travel to space. I was always good at math and science, but loved the adventure involved with becoming an astronaut and was drawn to exploration. This was the deciding factor in pursuing mechanical and aerospace engineering degrees. I also love doing hands-on work and playing with hardware and technology, so engineering is a great fit!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I have had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects over the past few years. I’ve driven a solar-powered car across North America, got my pilot’s license, and skydived with Korea’s first Astronaut. I’ve interned at both NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center (working on reliability engineering) and NASA Ames Research Center (on a Mission to Mars!).

At my current job, I first started working as an Operations Engineer for the Next Generation Canadarm Project. The goal of this project was to build two new robotic arms to repair and service satellites that have broken components, or have run out of fuel. It is about being more conscious of what we are putting into space and thinking about sustainable exploration. Now I help support the robotics on the International Space Station.

I loved these projects because I was innovating for extreme environments and working with outgoing and dynamic peers. This type of environment gives you the confidence to want to change the world!

Role models and heroes:
My role models are the amazing women that I am able to interact with while pursuing a career in STEM; for example, my instructor when I got my pilot’s license, Athenia Jansen. She exuded confidence and passion, which I think carried her far in a male-dominated field. This is similar for Lt-Col. Maryse Carmichael, Commanding Officer of the Canadian Snowbirds.

Why do you loving working in STEM?
I love working in STEM because it is an opportunity to seek out unfamiliar situations and really challenge myself or push my limits. A curiosity for science, engineering, and technology can cultivate innovation and facilitates life long learning. STEM is a gateway to exploration, which emphasizes the intricate balance between human progress and an entire universe waiting for discovery.

Advice for future STEMinists?
My advice for future women in STEM is to dive head-on into challenging careers. Do not be afraid of risk and take on leadership roles in order to revolutionize what women can accomplish in challenging fields that can influence the foundations of our generation and the next. Also learning teamwork skills, competence, toughness, discipline, responsibility and confidence can really help foster innovation and drive what is possible.

Favorite website or app:
One of my favorite websites is of big mountain skier Christina Lustenberger: http://christinalusti.com/

She has a passion for the mountains, outdoors, and exploration. She is pushing the limits of women’s ski mountaineering. And the pictures on her blog are gorgeous!

Twitter: @nmpanek
Site: thepanekroom.com