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STEMinist Profile: Charlyn Partridge, Temporary Assistant Professor, Biology

Charlyn Patridge

Charlyn Partridge

Temporary Assistant Professor, Biology
University of South Alabama



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I have just always loved science. I remember being around 6 or 7 and my parents bought me a little play microscope. I would go out to our swimming pool during the fall and winter (when we were not cleaning it constantly) and dip out water and just stare at all of the microscopic life it contained. When I was 13 I decided that that was what I wanted to do forever.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
The coolest project thus far has probably been the main project from my dissertation. I looked at how a particular endocrine disruptor, EE2, impacted secondary trait expression in pipefish. Pipefish are sex-role reversed so sexual selection acts stronger on females than on males. Because of this, females have evolved both permanent and temporary bands that they display during courtship. We found out that when you expose males to EE2 for as little as 10 days they develop these secondary sex traits and that females tend to avoid mating with exposed males. Currently we are looking at how this may impact the strength of sexual selection on a population scale.

Role models/heroes:
As a scientist, I would have to say Barbara McClintock. She had a passion for science that I envy. Adam Jones and Ginger Carney: Adam was my PhD advisor and both he and his wife, Ginger, have an incredible ability to balance both their work and family life. As a mom, I have yet to discover how to excel in both areas at the same time.

Why do you love working in STEM?
I think the main reason why I love working in STEM is because I get the chance to answer questions that no one has ever asked. That is really a cool thing.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Do something that challenges you and always continue to learn. Once you become stagnant it is very hard to get back in the game.

Favorite website or app:
Evoldir. Love that site.

Twitter: @sciencegurlz0

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Melissa Weber Mendonça, Professor of Mathematics

Melissa Mendoca

Melissa Weber Mendonça

Professor at the Department of Mathematics (Ph.D. in Applied Math)
Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Florianópolis, Brazil)

What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Well, I’ve always been very curious, and since I was very little I used to say I would be a scientist when I grew up. I started out wanting to be an archaeologist, then a geologist, then a physicist…When the time came to decide (when I was 16/17) I was seriously considering engineering (my father is an engineer and I always appreciated that he helped me study math).

But then my high school math teacher recognized that I had an interest and started giving me extra work. After a while I fell in love with math, and along with my love of computers and programming I became an applied mathematician. Since in Brazil all it takes for someone to be a professor at a University is an exam, I took the exam in 2009 and have been at the math department ever since.

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Well, math is a complicated subject in that we don’t necessarily have projects but work sometimes on the same project for 20, 30 years. My work is mainly on optimization, and it’s hard to explain to anyone why what I do is cool/inspiring. I loved all of my projects, I would say though that currently I’m in love with teaching! I think it is truly inspiring to teach and to help others see the beauty that I see in math.

Role models/heroes:
Well, I could say the same famous names we hear all the time but I’m going to cite someone who had a personal impact on my life: Anne Lemaître, from FUNDP (Belgium). She comes to me as a role model in that she showed me that it is possible to have a successful career and also have a family. Also, Gina Trapani is a big “geek” hero of mine!

Why do you love working in STEM?
In my case, it’s a matter of personal taste, really. I think I agree with the people that say math is like art; I like it because it is beautiful. It so happens that it is also useful, and to me that helps motivate me in my everyday work. Doing math is a bit like playing with LEGOs: once you have a few blocks on your hand, you can use that to build other (bigger) blocks, and eventually you’ll have built a complete figure. That’s what it feels like to work: it feels like playing! And having fun on your job is priceless.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t try to be perfect. Don’t measure yourself by what others do or by what you think they think of you. Be sure that you are doing the best you can, and that will be enough. If you ever feel alone, especially if you’re a minority in your workplace, be sure that you don’t try and carry the weight of all minorities in the world. You don’t have to feel responsible for not perpetuating stereotypes, and you don’t have to justify yourself for being there. You are just as worthy as everybody else!

Favorite website or app:
Right now, I’m going to have to go with Wunderkit, which is just amazing for managing big projects at home or work. I also really like Wolfram Alpha, but I’ve been a little disappointed that they started charging for some features, I used to indicate it to my students so they could check their answers while studying.

Twitter: @melissawm
Website: University profile

Profiles

STEMinist Profile: Carrie Eaton, Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Carrie Eaton

Carrie Eaton

Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Unity College



What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
Always loved science and math, never considered anything else!

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
Recently I have been involved with a working group interested in how human social actions interact with the evolution of a community (human or ecological). There are so many really interesting questions and implications. I look forward to applying some mathematical modeling to further our intuition and understanding.

Role Models/Heroes:
Not really, I take my inspiration from lots of different people for the different facets of my life and work.

Why do you love working in STEM?
Lots of opportunities! Such wonderful intellectual stimulation, such an interesting community to work in in terms of the diverse work happening in all fields.

Advice for future STEMinists?
Talk to other men, women, anyone! One of the biggest factors in my individual success was a result of working with others to achieve group goals. I love learning from my peers as much as from my own experience, and these connections will pay dividends later. Collaborations can be just as fruitful as individual labors, if not more. In mathematics, we are often encouraged to lock ourselves alone in the ivory tower in pursuit of the next unsolved theorem, but many other disciplines are begging for us to reach out and contribute our skill set, and communicate across disciplinary boundaries.

Favorite website or app:
Educreate is becoming a favorite app for screencasting problem solutions.

Twitter: @mathprofcarrie
Website: Unity College profile