Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspiring Minds: Meet Women in Science

Two summers ago, I worked at the Chulabhorn Research Institute in Thailand. Its tongue twister name comes from its founder, the youngest daughter of the Thai king. “When I grow up, I want to be just like Chulabhorn.” I remember one of my co-workers saying. “She’s an organic chemist and a princess!”

Though it is unlikely my friend will grow up to be a princess, if she follows the trend that modern women are setting, she can be an organic chemist and just about anything else she pleases.

Here are a few examples:

Erika Ebbel Angle is a biochemistry student at Boston University. She’s also a former Miss Massachusetts. And an entrepreneur. While she was still an undergraduate, Erika founded an organization called Science from Scientists, which sends scientists into classrooms to give students a hands-on introduction to the joy of performing experiments.

Linda Elkins-Tanton is a professor of geology at MIT. She’s currently studying how the planet formed, but ten years ago she was the editor of a wine magazine.

Meghna Chakrabarti, who currently works as the host of WBUR's "RadioBoston,” earned her first degree in civil and environmental engineering. She had jobs in engineering failure analysis, teaching human physiology, and researching flood control solutions for Venice, Italy before becoming a reporter.

Studying science can help girls build an outstanding resume, even if they decide to follow a different career path. Plus, it’s fun.

But despite all the perks to studying science, there are also setbacks and hurdles that affect women differently than they affect men, an idea Phoebe Cohen, a scientist with the MIT NASA Astrobiology Team explores in this letter to her 12-year-old self.

Find out how to push past them. Over the course of 3 days, a total of 17 different women will share their stories. Come learn about the awesome projects these women have undertaken, and pick up some career tips, too. This panel may be one of the most eclectic at the entire festival. Its members include doctors, lawyers, engineers, and oceanographers. They study everything from dolphins to airplanes to eyeballs.

Join them at the Museum of Science on April 28-30 and get inspired.

For more details, check out the Museum of Science website.

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