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Immunologist, Linda Yang’s Letter to her Younger Self April 27, 2012

Posted by Science Club for Girls in Letter to Young Self, women in science.
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Linda Yang is a postdoctoral fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  While attending graduate school at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, she studied metabolic pathways underlying obesity.  This lead to examining how metabolic pathways define cancer and now she is currently studying tumor immunology.

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How do I begin to tell you the adventures your scientific career will take you on?   Do I tell you everything or leave some stories as a surprise?  A little hint is that your love of science will take you to NYC where you pursue a doctorate in biology.  Eventually you’ll meet your husband, a fellow graduate student, while working hard in lab. You realize you don’t have to hide behind how smart you are to get a guy to like you.  Just be the wonderfully inquisitive, thoughtful, and intelligent person you are and boys will get that and like that about you.

Always remember to stay curious because this will be the foundation of your love of science.   Ask questions like how do plants grow and why is the sky blue and have fun in the pursuit of the answers.   Eventually this will lead to asking bigger questions with more difficult answers like how does cancer form and how do we cure it?

Above all, remember that liking science doesn’t make you nerdy and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.  Keep working hard and doing well in school.  There will definitely be days you won’t want to do this but stick to it.  Your perseverance will lead to a rewarding career finding cures to help sick people and along the way you’ll make wonderful friends that will last a lifetime.   Don’t be too self-conscious and remember that what makes you different will be your strength.  Be confident, adventurous, laugh easily, and don’t worry so much about what your next step should be.  Pursue the things that interest you and the rest will fall in place.

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Virologist Researcher, Sarah Pagni’s letter to her 16-year old self April 27, 2012

Posted by Science Club for Girls in Letter to Young Self, women in science.
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Sarah Pagni is a  PhD candidate at Mount Sinai School of Medicine studying how dengue virus modulates the human immune system.  She earned her Bachelors degree at Mount Holyoke College majoring in biochemstry and minoring in art history.

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Dear Sarah, age 16, fall 2000,

I’m sure you aren’t going to want to hear this but I’m just going to say it, junior year of high school isn’t your best year.  Take a deep breath, you’ll do perfectly well in your classes, but everything is much harder this year than before.  Right now you’re struggling through Mr. Noll’s physics class and I know it doesn’t seem fair that you were put into the extremely hard class and other people are coasting through the easier class right now but believe me, this is a good thing.  While I never came to really love physics and the class does not get easier as the year goes on (sorry), Mr. Noll really pushed me to think critically.  To do experiments to answer my questions.   To always ask why.   And he’s right, physics makes a lot more sense with “the calculus”.  The two semesters of physics you’ll take in college are so much easier than the year in high school; it makes so much more sense.  Most importantly, this year of physics torture will be a very transformative one for you; the one thing that Mr. Noll really imparts to you is to be passionate about what you do in life.  I’ve probably only met a handful of people who truly, absolutely love what they do as much as he loved teaching high school juniors and seniors physics.  And you’ll decide that’s what you want; no, not the physics, but the passion.

By the way later this year, a guy in your English class is going to break a plate over his head (more…)

Meeting with Women in STEM from around Africa April 20, 2012

Posted by Connie Chow in Executive Director Musings, STEM pipeline efforts, women in science.
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Earlier this week, I met with four scientists and engineers from Africa, who were here in the United States for the first time, as part of the Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program, hosted by WorldBoston.

They included Ms. Kobamelo DIKGOLA, Principal Hydrological Engineer, Department of Water Affairs, from Botswana; Ms. Ayuni Segum FAI, Operations and Maintenance Supervisor, MTN Cameroon (a communications company); Ms. Josephine Aku Holanyo ECKLU, Teaching Assistant, Department of Food Process Engineering, University of Ghana; and Mrs. Celestina Nkem STEVE-OBIAGO, Founder/ Chief Executive Officer, Sonec Confectionaries in Nigeria.

Sister Ann Fox of the Paraclete Academy, who has been working on a STEM school for girls in Rwanda for the last decade, joined us. Sister Fox and I discussed with them how they can design and adapt similar programs back in their countries.

As a handful of women in science and engineering in their own communities, they were highly aware of the need to attract and mentor more young women into these fields, and were particularly interested in learning about our programs here and in Ghana. In fact, both Ms. Ecklu and Ms. Steve-Obiago already mentor young women, in academics and in entrepreneurship. They were particularly interested in shared curricula ideas and I also shared some books from Sally Ride Science, which they eagerly accepted.

The larger issues of gender stereotyping and class were much more pronounced in their home countries, and formed major barriers to getting girls and young women interested in science and other male-dominated fields. They agreed that building girls’ confidence is a key step in sustaining their efforts, and role models and practical experience are essential in fueling their interest.

Much to my delight, I discovered that Ms. Josephine volunteers with the Ghana Sustainable Aid Project in Pokuase, where we have Science Clubs. We will definitely see each other again!

Feeling fancy. Awards abound in the SCFG family! April 17, 2012

Posted by Science Club for Girls in SCFG News.
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We are so proud to be part of a family of staff members, advisors and volunteers who exemplify volunteerism, mentoring and personal excellence, as wonderful human beings, and as women in STEM. Here’s a list of awards received recently.

2011 Catalyst Award honoree and SCFG Ambassador Dr. Tayyaba Hasan was honored by the National Postdoctoral Association with their 10th Anniversary Mentor Award.

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Kristin Solomon, co-founder of the Northeastern Chapter of Science Club for Girls was distinguished as one of the 100 most influential seniors at the university.

The NU Science Club for Girls received the Organization Award for Community Service at the 2012 Student Life Awards.

And last but not least former board member Rosalyn Britt, MPH, was honored at the 2nd Annual Women of Purpose Awards sponsored by the South Middlesex County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in winter 2011. The award is given to women in Metrowest who are transforming lives and impacting their communities.

Natalie Johnson’s Letter to her young self March 31, 2012

Posted by Science Club for Girls in Letter to Young Self.
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Natalie is a mathematician, business owner, programmer and teacher. She is the founder and CEO of READit, a consulting firm dedicated to closing the achievement gap through data.

Hey There New Baby,

Natalie in her Brownie uniform

Look into your future. Do you see what I see? You are running to kindergarten with your friends – full of excitement to join in and sing with your classmates about the weather, the state capitols and basic math facts; you are walking with your best friend to elementary school – sharing stories about what happened yesterday in physics and how your lab assignment turned out compared to your peers; you are sending a text blast to 2000 of your high school friends across the globe to share ideas and tricks to win the electronic chess game that you all started months ago; you are balancing college life, your social life and your 1 million tweets from your successful virtual business – all while deciding whether or not you will continue to live in space or move back to Earth after you proudly obtain your PhD in STEM…

Hey there, New Baby! You go girl with your new self and new, innovative mind!