(…Or the joy of dIvErSiTy in STEM)
Next Tuesday, February 11, marks the 5th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science (WGS). Created by the United Nations, this day celebrates the accomplishments of women researchers and brings attention to the unique challenges experienced by women students/scientists and the continued gender gaps in STEM careers.
To promote WGS awareness, UBC Science featured 10 women researchers within the University. You can check out their bios and research here. Featured scientists include Dr. Xin Li, a professor within the Botany Department, who runs a lab at the Michael Smith Laboratories, the transdisciplinary research hub where I study/research. PhD Candidate Isobel Mouat from the Microbiology and Immunology Department shares her experience combining virology research (specifically the role of Epstein-Barr virus in autoimmune disease development) and science education.
On February 11 the Michael Smith Labs will host winners of the 2020 Early Career Invited Lecture Series–Dr. Gabi Fragiadakis (UCSF) and Dr. Giuliana Rossi (EPFL). Dr. Fragiadakis utilizes bioinformatic techniques to analyze the impact of diet on immune-microbiome interactions. Dr. Rossi’s postdoctoral research utilizes organoids (3D tissue cultures from stem cells) to examine organogenesis (formation of organs during embryonic development).
To wrap-up this post–and in celebration of Black History month–I would like to highlight an African-American microbiologist, Dr. Ruth Ella Moore. Born in 1903, Ruth Ella became the first black woman to receive a PhD in the natural sciences (Bacteriology, Ohio State University). A fashionista and polymath, Dr. Moore taught English courses and microbiology classes, she even chaired the Bacteriology Department at Howard University. She engaged in a range of research projects–studying Mycobacterium tuberculosis pathology (causative agent of tuberculosis), examining the role of oral microbes in cavity development, assessing blood factors, and exploring the impact of antibiotics on gut microbes (check out a snippet of her research here)!
Wikipedia Images: Ruth Ella Moore
We need diversity in STEM. Scientific innovations emerge through the efforts of many voices working together to dream, create, develop, and critically test and retest and retest and retest ideas.
Research can be difficult, discouraging, rewarding, confusing, and exciting. For a long time STEM has (and continues?!) to be a challenging space for women to thrive. But you and I matter.
So in honour of the women that came before…
“We must have perseverance and above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” –Marie Curie