Tagged: Women in STEM Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 9:32 am on July 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Bugs in the System", , Harvard University, , Microbiota, , Wendy Garrett, Women in STEM   

    From Harvard: Women in STEM – “Bugs in the System” Wendy Garrett 

    Harvard University
    Harvard University

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

    No image credit.

    Nicole Davis

    Physician-scientist Wendy Garrett explores the multitude of microbes that live inside the human body, and how they can help fuel—or fend off—disease.

    From a microbial perspective, the human colon is a teeming metropolis, home to the most densely populated collection of microbes on the planet. Remarkably, these organisms are not only tolerated but also often required for normal body functioning—as much a part of human biology as our own cells.

    “We’re used to thinking about microbes as enemies—as major threats to our health—but most microbes don’t cause disease. They actually help us live better,” says Wendy Garrett, professor of immunology and infectious diseases at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. “We are symbionts: human cells coexisting with bacterial cells, fungi, viruses, and parasites. We’re multispecies beings.”

    Garrett explores the vast community known as the microbiota, which is increasingly recognized for its central role in human health. Her laboratory has a particular focus on the gut, where more than 1,000 types of microbial habitués reside. Working with a team of postdoctoral scholars, graduate students, and other lab members, she seeks to understand how the microbiota contributes to major diseases of the gastrointestinal system, including colorectal cancer—the fourth-leading cause of death globally and second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.—and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

    Garrett is also intrigued by how gut microbes might shed light on cancer development and cancer treatments. Why do some tumors respond to certain cancer-fighting therapies—immunotherapy, for example—while others do not? With a deeper knowledge of the microbiota, it may become possible to manipulate microbes in ways that boost the effectiveness of cancer treatments and perhaps prevent the disease from arising in the first place.

    Wendy Garrett, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases


    Garrett’s fascination with science began in childhood, when she conducted improvised experiments in her parents’ basement—among other things, culturing various types of mold on bread—and later joining her elementary school electronics club. These early exposures made her not only a passionate mentor to young researchers inside and outside her lab but also deeply supportive of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives for grade-schoolers. She has also steeped her own two children in science, and her entire laboratory visits her kids’ elementary school to lead microbiology lessons. As Garrett sees it, “Everyone’s a scientist.”

    Garrett’s current study of microbes stems in part from her role as an attending physician specializing in gastrointestinal malignancies at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. She was influenced by a series of seminal discoveries in the 1980s and ’90s about the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Those studies revealed it was H. pylori—not stress or spicy foods, as the conventional wisdom had it—that triggered stomach inflammation and ulcers, which in turn raise the risk of gastric cancer. When first proposed in the early 1980s, the bacterium-ulcer model was derided; today, it is the accepted paradigm.

    “Cancer is really complex, and microbes are complex too,” Garrett says. “But if we could work on both sides of the challenge simultaneously—the cancer and the microbes—we might find something new that can help treat or even prevent malignancy.”

    Her dual roles as a physician-scientist—“the broad, thoughtful process of medicine and the experimental, reductionist path in basic science”—feed each other, Garrett adds. In the hospital, she talks to colleagues about how the microbiota affects patient care and well-being; witnessing her patients’ struggles up close, meanwhile, spurs her to do the research that may someday ease such suffering.

    Microbial revival

    The microbiota (sometimes called the “microbiome,” although technically that term refers to the microbes’ aggregate genomes) may seem like a new concept, but scientists have been talking about and studying it for at least a century. In the early 1900s, Élie Metchnikoff, a Russian zoologist known for his Nobel Prize–winning work on the immune system, theorized that toxic bacteria in the gut caused aging and senility. He was particularly taken with the idea of replacing native gut microbes with “host-friendly” microbes, such as those found in yogurt, to promote health and longevity—work that presaged the now-booming field of probiotics.

    While the notion of “good bacteria” hearkens back to the days of Metchnikoff, Garrett’s work draws on technological capabilities that the 19th-century experimentalist could only dream of. Today’s tools for studying microbial communities—hundreds or thousands of species at once—include large-scale DNA sequencing, which has evolved rapidly over the last 20 years. Instead of culturing bacteria and other microbes in the laboratory to study them, scientists can now directly analyze their DNA, bypassing the need to precisely match microbes with their preferred growth conditions.

    Similar technological leaps have helped expand scientists’ view beyond microbial DNA to RNA, metabolites (by-products of the body’s metabolism), and other sources of biological information. “Now when we study the microbiota, there are many ‘omes’ beyond the conventional genomes that we can think about,” says Garrett, referring to such biological data sets as the metabolome (the small-molecule metabolic chemicals found in tissue), proteome (the complement of proteins expressed in an organism), exposome (all of an individual’s nongenetic exposures over a lifetime), and others.

    Gut signatures

    Harnessing this information could help scientists construct new models of how host cells and symbiont microbes communicate. Alongside the gut’s dense microbial community, for example, are patrols of immune cells perpetually on high alert against infection. When these cells and the defensive inflammation they trigger careen out of control, however, IBD can develop. Garrett’s laboratory seeks to pinpoint what provokes this extreme response: Is it driven by the immune system, the microbes, or a mix of both?

    In some IBD patients, the immune systems are altered in critical ways, and these differences affect key immune gatekeepers known as regulatory T cells. There are also notable differences in the types and number of bacteria that live in the guts of healthy individuals, compared with those suffering from IBD.

    “We thought about the bacteria that are decreased in people with IBD or increased in people without IBD, and that got us thinking about bacterial metabolism in the colon,” explains Garrett. “We had this idea that maybe short-chain fatty acids, which are an abundant bacterial metabolite in the colon, might play an important role.”

    These molecules have relatively compact chemical backbones, comprising just a handful of carbon atoms. Gut microbes make them by using building blocks from fiber-rich foods. Remarkably, when Garrett’s team fed short-chain fatty acids to mice, healthy or not, they found that the number of regulatory T cells rose. And in a mouse model of IBD, the treatment dramatically improved their disease. Garrett and her colleagues are now extending this line of research by exploring the biological mechanisms behind the therapeutic effect and extrapolating how these mechanisms might play out in humans.

    “Tasting” parasitic intruders

    The gastrointestinal tract is also home to parasites—both single-celled organisms and large, multicellular ones such as roundworms and other wormlike creatures. “One of the next frontiers of microbiota research is to better understand how the gut senses and determines whether a parasite is friend or foe, and how those differences contribute to health and disease,” says Garrett.

    In a paper published in Science in 2016, Garrett and her colleagues describe how specialized cells in the gut detect parasites. Known as tuft cells, for the clumps of hairlike projections at their tip, they can sample intestinal contents using a form of taste similar to the one taste buds use to signal whether foods are bitter, savory, or sweet. When tuft cells encounter parasites, the cells release a chemical that not only triggers the immune system but also orchestrates tuft cell proliferation, thereby expanding their own numbers in the gut. This in turn rallies the immune system, enabling it to fight off parasitic intruders.

    “It’s an elegant system, and one that can teach us a lot about diseases with a significant global impact—like giardiasis, roundworm, and hookworm,” says Garrett. “This will teach us how parasites influence the immune system, which has implications not only for how we fight parasitic diseases of the gut but also how we think about allergic and inflammatory diseases.” Research from other labs suggests that people with microbiota that harbor or have harbored parasites are less likely to suffer from IBD and other autoimmune diseases.

    Sticky business

    Although her laboratory studies a variety of microbes, Garrett has focused on one in particular: Fusobacterium nucleatum. About five years ago, she and her colleagues, including scientists at the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, discovered that these bacteria live inside colorectal tumors. “A subset of patients with colon cancer had large numbers of these bacteria in their tumors,” she says.

    Fusobacteria, which typically thrive in the mouth, are more than mere biological bystanders. In the gut, they appear to incite tumor growth, acting via the immune system itself. Garrett’s group found that the microbes recruit certain immune cells that, instead of rallying the immune system, actively suppress it, allowing colorectal tumors to grow unchecked.

    In the last few years, Garrett and her colleagues have delved more deeply into these subversive tactics through collaborations with Gilad Bachrach and Ofer Mandelboim at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. In a paper published in Immunity in 2015, they revealed some of the key molecular players that inhibit the immune system. Last August, in a study published in Cell Host & Microbe, the team described how fusobacteria find their way to colon tumors—through a special sugar-binding protein that sits on the bacterial cell surface and enables the microbes to stick to the sugary coatings on colon cancer cells.

    “These bacteria have evolved a mechanism to avoid the immune system. If the bacteria are inside a cancer, the consequence is that it helps the cancer escape the immune system too,” says Garrett. “If we can find a way to block the sugar-binding proteins on these bacteria, then we may be able to prevent their role in tumor progression.”

    Such groundbreaking ideas have earned Garrett accolades from colleagues. “By deciphering the mechanistic bases of the interactions between the microbiota and the immune system, Dr. Garrett and her colleagues have revealed stunning new insights into the causes of inflammatory and neoplastic diseases,” says Matthew Waldor, the Edward H. Kass Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “She is one of the rare remaining ‘triple threats’: amazing clinician, teacher, and scientist.”

    Search for gold

    Colorectal cancer is squarely in the sights of medical research. Over the last four decades, timely screening beginning at age 50 has helped detect precancerous polyps (which can be removed) as well as early cancer (for which treatment is most effective). New therapies are also in the pipeline.

    But prevention—precisely targeted, powerful means to block tumors from growing in the first place, particularly in high-risk individuals—is equally urgent and equally promising, Garrett says. “We understand so much about the disease and its risk factors, both within the microbiota and within the host, that we may someday prevent colon cancer from ever developing.”

    Garrett’s lab has a Latin motto: Aurum ex Stercore. It means “to gold from dung,” a phrase that dates back to the classic challenge in medieval alchemy of transforming something seen as repugnantly useless into something inestimably precious. “Gold represents a scientific discovery that has the potential to help humanity,” Garrett says. “My sincere wish is to build a better system from a microbial perspective, so that we don’t even meet the eventuality of cancer.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health traces its roots to public health activism at the beginning of the last century, a time of energetic social reform. From the start, faculty were expected to commit themselves to research as well as teaching. In 1946, no longer affiliated with the medical school, the School became an independent, degree-granting body.

    Today, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health brings together dedicated experts from many disciplines to educate new generations of global health leaders and produce powerful ideas that improve the lives and health of people everywhere.

    We work together as a community of leading scientists, educators, and students to take innovative ideas from the laboratory to people’s lives, not only making scientific breakthroughs, but also working to change individual behaviors, public policies, and health care practices.

    Harvard University campus
    Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, established in 1636 by vote of the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard of Charlestown, who upon his death in 1638 left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard, and is perhaps the University’s best known landmark.

    Harvard University has 12 degree-granting Schools in addition to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The University has grown from nine students with a single master to an enrollment of more than 20,000 degree candidates including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. There are more than 360,000 living alumni in the U.S. and over 190 other countries.

  • richardmitnick 8:49 am on July 31, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Lindy Elkins-Tanton, , , Women in STEM   

    From MIT: Women in STEM – “Exploring an unusual metal asteroid” Lindy Elkins-Tanton 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    MIT News

    July 25, 2017
    Alice Waugh, MIT Alumni Association

    As principal investigator of the Psyche mission, Lindy Elkins-Tanton ’87, SM ’87, PhD ’02 is just the second woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission to a planetary body. The first was her former MIT colleague, Vice President for Research Maria Zuber. Photo: Arizona State University.

    Alumna and former MIT professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton is working with MIT faculty in her role as principal investigator for NASA’s upcoming Psyche mission.

    NASA Psyche spacecraft

    Lindy Elkins-Tanton ’87, SM ’87, PhD ’02 is reaching for the stars — literally. She is the principal investigator for Psyche, a NASA mission that will explore an unusual metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche.

    The mission does not launch until 2023, but preparations have begun in collaboration with faculty in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). Professors Benjamin Weiss and Maria Zuber, who also serves as MIT’s vice president for research, wrote a paper about the asteroid with Elkins­-Tanton that was the basis for the team’s selection for NASA’s Discovery Program. MIT Professor Richard Binzel is also a team member.

    At MIT, Elkins-Tanton earned BS and MS degrees in geology and geochemistry with a concentration on how planets form. Then she detoured from academia to the business world before becoming a college lecturer in mathematics in 1995.

    “I realized that in academia, you have this incredible privilege of always being able to ask a harder, bigger question, so you never get bored, and you have the opportunity to inspire students to do more in their lives,” says Elkins-Tanton. She returned to MIT to earn a PhD in geology and geophysics, and for the next decade after completing that degree, she taught, first at Brown University and then at MIT as an EAPS faculty member.

    Since 2014, Elkins-­Tanton has been professor and director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

    She has been revamping the undergraduate curriculum to give it more of an MIT flavor, bringing current research into the classroom and having students tackle real-world problems. This approach has helped her transmit excitement about the field to her students.

    Elkins-Tanton also draws on business skills that she says are quite useful for scientific collaboration: negotiating, making a compelling pitch, and knowing how to build a team that works well. She is applying those skills, along with her management and leadership experience, as the second woman to lead a NASA mission to a major solar system body (after Zuber, who was principal investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, or GRAIL, mission).

    Psyche represents a compelling target for study because scientists theorize that it was an ordinary asteroid until violent collisions with other objects blasted away most of its outer rock, exposing its metallic core. This core, the first to be studied, could yield insights into the metal interior of rocky planets in the solar system.

    “We have no idea what a metal body looks like. The one thing I can be sure of is that it will surprise us,” Elkins-Tanton says. “I love this stuff — there are new discoveries every day.”

    See the full article here .
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    MIT Seal

    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

    MIT Campus

  • richardmitnick 12:33 pm on July 26, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Angela Fava, , , , , , , , Women in STEM   

    From Symmetry: Women in STEM- “Angela Fava: studying neutrinos around the globe” 

    Symmetry Mag


    Liz Kruesi

    This experimental physicist has followed the ICARUS neutrino detector from Gran Sasso to Geneva to Chicago.

    Angela Fava

    Physicist Angela Fava has been at the enormous ICARUS detector’s side for over a decade. As an undergraduate student in Italy in 2006, she worked on basic hardware for the neutrino hunting experiment: tightening bolts and screws, connecting and reconnecting cables, learning how the detector worked inside and out.

    ICARUS (short for Imaging Cosmic And Rare Underground Signals) first began operating for research in 2010, studying a beam of neutrinos created at European laboratory CERN and launched straight through the earth hundreds of miles to the detector’s underground home at INFN Gran Sasso National Laboratory.

    INFN Gran Sasso ICARUS, since moved to FNAL


    In 2014, the detector moved to CERN for refurbishing, and Fava relocated with it. In June ICARUS began a journey across the ocean to the US Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory to take part in a new neutrino experiment. When it arrives today, Fava will be waiting.

    Fava will go through the installation process she helped with as a student, this time as an expert.

    Caraban Gonzalez, Noemi Ordan, Julien Marius, CERN.

    Journey to ICARUS

    As a child growing up between Venice and the Alps, Fava always thought she would pursue a career in math. But during a one-week summer workshop before her final year of high school in 2000, she was drawn to experimental physics.

    At the workshop, she realized she had more in common with physicists. Around the same time, she read about new discoveries related to neutral, rarely interacting particles called neutrinos. Scientists had recently been surprised to find that the extremely light particles actually had mass and that different types of neutrinos could change into one another. And there was still much more to learn about the ghostlike particles.

    At the start of college in 2001, Fava immediately joined the University of Padua neutrino group. For her undergraduate thesis research, she focused on the production of hadrons, making measurements essential to studying the production of neutrinos. In 2004, her research advisor Alberto Guglielmi and his group joined the ICARUS collaboration, and she’s been a part of it ever since.

    Fava jests that the relationship actually started much earlier: “ICARUS was proposed for the first time in 1983, which is the year I was born. So we are linked from birth.”

    Fava remained at the University of Padua in the same research group for her graduate work. During those years, she spent about half of her time at the ICARUS detector, helping bring it to life at Gran Sasso.

    Once all the bolts were tightened and the cables were attached, ICARUS scientists began to pursue their goal of using the detector to study how neutrinos change from one type to another.

    During operation, Fava switched gears to create databases to store and log the data. She wrote code to automate the data acquisition system and triggering, which differentiates between neutrino events and background such as passing cosmic rays. “I was trying to take part in whatever activity was going on just to learn as much as possible,” she says.

    That flexibility is a trait that Claudio Silverio Montanari, the technical director of ICARUS, praises. “She has a very good capability to adapt,” he says. “Our job, as physicists, is putting together the pieces and making the detector work.”

    Changing it up

    Adapting to changing circumstances is a skill both Fava and ICARUS have in common. When scientists proposed giving the detector an update at CERN and then using it in a suite of neutrino experiments at Fermilab, Fava volunteered to come along for the ride.

    Once installed and operating at Fermilab, ICARUS will be used to study neutrinos from a source a few hundred meters away from the detector. In its new iteration, ICARUS will search for sterile neutrinos, a hypothetical kind of neutrino that would interact even more rarely than standard neutrinos. While hints of these low-mass particles have cropped up in some experiments, they have not yet been detected.

    At Fermilab, ICARUS also won’t be buried below more than half a mile of rock, a feature of the INFN setup that shielded it from cosmic radiation from space. That means the triggering system will play an even bigger role in this new experiment, Fava says.

    “We have a great challenge ahead of us.” She’s up to the task.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 9:17 pm on July 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Helen Caines, , Women in STEM,   

    From Yale: Women in STEM -“Yale’s Helen Caines takes a leadership role in international STAR experiment” 

    Yale University bloc

    Yale University

    July 12, 2017

    Jim Shelton

    The left half of this image shows the Solenoidal Tracker at RHIC. It is a detector that specializes in tracking the thousands of particles produced by each ion collision at RHIC. The right half of the image shows the end view of a collision of two 30-billion electron-volt gold beams in the STAR detector at RHIC. (Image courtesy of STAR)

    BNL RHIC Campus

    BNL/RHIC Star Detector


    Helen Caines has spent much of her professional life immersed in cosmic soup.

    While other physicists have chased gravitational waves, cultivated qubits, and mused about dark matter, Caines has focused squarely on the thick glop of particles that transformed into nuclear matter in the first milliseconds after the Big Bang. Through studying these particles, Caines believes, humanity can come to understand the basic processes that formed the early universe at that instant.

    Now Caines is a leading voice in explaining how much we’ve learned so far and what is to come. On July 1, she became co-spokesperson for the STAR experiment, an international collaboration of more than 600 physicists searching for the theorized “critical point” that transformed the universe from a soup of quarks into what we know as matter today.

    “We’re doing very exciting physics, things we never dreamed we’d be able to do when we started,” said Caines, an associate professor of physics and member of Yale’s Wright Lab. “STAR is a testament to how innovative a collaboration can be. We have the whole range of experience, from undergraduates to emeritus professors working with us.”

    The STAR experiment is focused on the dense, hot soup of quarks and gluons — known as the quark-gluon plasma — that is believed to have existed ten millionths of a second after the Big Bang. These conditions can be recreated in the laboratory by colliding heavy ions and studying the reactions — an endeavor that still amazes Caines even after more than 20 years of research.

    “It’s just so intriguing that you can smash heavy ions together and actually learn something about the early universe from it,” she said. “It’s like smashing two automobiles together and then trying to determine the make and model of each one.”

    Helen Caines will co-lead the STAR experiment’s investigation of what happened ten millionths of a second after the Big Bang. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

    STAR launched in 1991 and is based at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

    The experiment began collecting data in 2000. More than 60 institutions in 13 countries are part of STAR.

    Yale’s involvement in the STAR experiment runs deep. Zhangbu Xu, co-spokesperson with Caines, has a Yale Ph.D., and Yale physics professor John Harris was the founding spokesperson, serving from 1991 until 2002. Current Yale collaborators, along with Caines and Harris, are emeritus professor Jack Sandweiss; adjunct professor Thomas Ullrich; graduate students Stephen Horvat, Daniel Nemes, and David Stewart; senior research scientist Richard Majka; research scientist Nikolai Smirnov; and postdoctoral associates Saehanseul Oh and Li Yi.

    “Yale has been committed to heavy ion physics research since the founding by professor D. Allan Bromley of the original Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory in 1966 and its various upgrades of its tandem van de Graaff accelerators,” Harris said. Yale became a member institution of the STAR experiment in 1996, when Harris arrived on campus.

    Caines joined the experiment in 1996 as well. Her work involves measuring the high-momentum particles that are produced when ultra-relativistic heavy ions are collided. Specifically, she focuses on the particles’ movement through the surrounding soup. The work is helping scientists start to understand the properties and characteristics of a new state of matter in transition.

    This is where the so-called “critical point” becomes essential to physicists. Caines has been a major proponent for a program at RHIC called Beam Energy Scan, which has successfully concluded its first phase of experiments and is in the middle of its analysis.

    “BES covers the full range of collision energies at RHIC with the primary goal of potentially discovering a critical point that is predicted to exist in the phase diagram of nuclear matter,” Harris said. “At this critical point nuclear matter transforms into a plasma of quarks and gluons in a first order phase transition, where nuclear particles as we know them coexist for an instant with quarks and gluons in a very hot phase, about 100,000 times hotter than our Sun.”

    Caines will co-lead STAR in its continuing investigation of this nuclear phase and help lead a second phase of experiments over the next few years. She and Yale graduate student Horvat have identified an approximate region in collision energy and temperature where researchers may find the critical point — a region where the hotter phase of quarks and gluons gives way to the cooler nuclear phase.

    Caines’ colleagues say she is well suited to her new role.

    “These large collaborations require a lot from a spokesperson,” said Sarah Demers, the Horace Taft Associate Professor of Physics at Yale and a member of the ATLAS experiment at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. “You need to be a physics detector expert, a physics analysis expert, and you need to be able to keep your colleagues inspired and behind a common plan. Helen is an excellent physicist, and she knows how to lead a team.”

    Caines received her Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham, U.K., in 1996. She was appointed assistant professor at Yale in 2004 and promoted to associate professor in 2010. She is a faculty member of Yale’s Wright Lab.

    Part of the satisfaction of her job, she said, is the opportunity to be surprised even after decades of research. The STAR experiment exemplifies this, she explained.

    “We’re at a very interesting stage,” Caines said. “We think we may find a place in nuclear matter, where things go wild.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Yale University Campus

    Yale University comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and administrative support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.

  • richardmitnick 12:46 pm on July 16, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Moran Yassour, The infant microbiome, Women in STEM   

    From Broad: Women in STEM- “Meet a Broadie: Moran Yassour, Microbiome Maven” 

    Broad Institute

    Broad Institute

    No writer credit

    Moran Yassour

    Credit: BroadIgnite

    Moran Yassour, a postdoctoral researcher in the labs of Eric Lander and Ramnik Xavier at the Broad Institute, is a pioneer in one of biology’s hottest fields: the human microbiome. She’s researching how the circumstances of our birth and early life influence the origin and development of the microbes in our gut. Support from the BroadIgnite community has allowed her to investigate the differences in the gut bacteria between children born by C-section and those born vaginally. Here, she shares more about her research. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

    How did you come to study the infant microbiome? My mother is a computer science teacher, and I always loved genetics. When I was looking for undergrad programs, I came across a program that combined computer science and life science. I really enjoyed it and stayed in the same program for my master’s and Ph.D.

    When I started my postdoc, I knew that I wanted to be in a field that’s a little bit more translational—something I could easily explain to my grandmother, or a stranger in the elevator, and they could understand what I’m doing and why it’s cool.

    I started working on gut microbiome samples of adult patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but we also had a collaboration with a Finnish group with a cohort of children who got lots of antibiotics. I thought that was super interesting, because I had two young children at the time (a third is now on the way).

    One day I was sitting in day care, and I realized that there are so many things that are different between them. Clearly, they’re going to share a lot of microbes because they’re all licking the same toys, but they have so many different eating habits. So it started me thinking about all the diversity that we see among children of the same age group, even among the same classroom in daycare.

    What is the goal of your BroadIgnite project? In the Finnish data, we saw a pattern that was known before: kids born by C-section have a different microbe signature than kids born by vaginal delivery. What was really interesting and novel, though, was that 20 percent of kids born by vaginal delivery had the C-section microbial signature. We didn’t have the data to explain it. At some point, when I kept complaining that we don’t have all the things that could be relevant, I realized that we should just try to establish a new cohort that would have all the data we were missing.

    Together with Dr. Caroline Mitchell (an OBGYN at MGH) we enrolled 190 families that came to deliver at MGH labor and delivery, and we collected samples from the kids and from different niches of the mother’s body. Now that most of the samples have been sequenced, we can get a better understanding of the differences in the microbial signatures. We can investigate questions like: do we see less transmission of bacterial strains from mother to child in C-section births? And can we identify the bacteria impacted the most?

    What else might influence a baby’s microbiome? We have a project looking at breast milk versus infant formula. The third most common component in breast milk is a type of sugar called human milk oligosaccharides. There are 200 different types of these sugars, and each mother can have a different combination of these sugars in her milk. But the baby itself does not have the enzymes to break these down—basically the mother is feeding the baby’s gut bacteria.

    In formula, none of these sugars are present, partly because they’re very expensive to make. But we also don’t know which sugars to add. We want to understand what the minimal and necessary set is that we can use to supplement formula that would best mimic breast milk. And so we’re trying to understand which bacteria could grow on which sugar, and which bacterial genes enable this potential growth for each sugar.

    It also turns out that cow’s milk allergy is almost twice as prevalent in kids who are exclusively formula fed than in kids who are breastfed. Formula is based on cow’s milk, so it could just be that they get a lot of exposure to cow’s milk protein if they’re exclusively eating formula. On the other hand, we know that exclusively formula-fed babies have different gut bacteria. So that’s what we’re investigating with the Food Allergy Science Initiative, with a cohort of 180 kids, 90 of which got milk allergy and 90 of which did not.

    What role did BroadIgnite play? Many young scientists lack confidence, so when other people think what you’re studying is important and that the methods you’re using are interesting, then that’s fun. The BroadIgnite funding was a really nice boost. It’s an honor to belong to such an extraordinary group of scientists.

    Furthermore, I think that two strong advantages of the BroadIgnite funding are that I could get the funding started very fast, which helped me establish my new cohort, and that the preliminary results from these samples were instrumental in receiving a large NIH grant to further support my projects.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Broad Institute Campus

    The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT is founded on two core beliefs:

    This generation has a historic opportunity and responsibility to transform medicine by using systematic approaches in the biological sciences to dramatically accelerate the understanding and treatment of disease.
    To fulfill this mission, we need new kinds of research institutions, with a deeply collaborative spirit across disciplines and organizations, and having the capacity to tackle ambitious challenges.

    The Broad Institute is essentially an “experiment” in a new way of doing science, empowering this generation of researchers to:

    Act nimbly. Encouraging creativity often means moving quickly, and taking risks on new approaches and structures that often defy conventional wisdom.
    Work boldly. Meeting the biomedical challenges of this generation requires the capacity to mount projects at any scale — from a single individual to teams of hundreds of scientists.
    Share openly. Seizing scientific opportunities requires creating methods, tools and massive data sets — and making them available to the entire scientific community to rapidly accelerate biomedical advancement.
    Reach globally. Biomedicine should address the medical challenges of the entire world, not just advanced economies, and include scientists in developing countries as equal partners whose knowledge and experience are critical to driving progress.

    Harvard University

    MIT Widget

  • richardmitnick 4:39 pm on July 12, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health, Women in STEM   

    From Stanford SCOPE: Women in STEM- “Stanford’s Michele Barry on why we need more women leaders in global health” 

    Stanford University Name
    Stanford University


    SCOPE blog

    June 20, 2017 [Where was this hiding?]
    Holly MacCormick

    Image courtesy of Michele Barry.

    As the women began to clap, Michele Barry, MD, director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in Global Health, realized she’d touched on something big.

    It was summer of 2016 and she was at a conference in Nairobi when a panel composed entirely of men took the stage. Barry rose from her seat in the audience and addressed the panel saying, “It behooves you— if you want to be the continent that is leading the next generation — to get some women up there.”

    “For that, I literally got a standing ovation from the women in the audience,” Barry said recalling the event as we sat recently in her sun-drenched office in Stanford’s Li Ka Shing Center for Learning and Knowledge.

    This experience inspired Barry to create Stanford Medicine’s first Women Leaders in Global Health conference, a two-day event (starting this fall) that aims to spotlight emerging and established women leaders in global health while giving future female leaders the tools and support they need to become trailblazers in their field.

    Barry told me about her own path to leadership saying, “I didn’t start off thinking I would be a leader. I originally went into medicine for political reasons. It was after the Vietnam War and I was very interested in making a difference.”

    The pivotal moment arrived roughly 10 years into her career, when Barry received a Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship and $50,000 to study anything outside of her field. Barry was one of the few doctors in a diverse group of 40 people, including a schoolteacher, a TV anchor, and four college presidents, that studied leadership skills for three years.

    “It was really transformative for me.” Barry said. Leadership skills are, she said, “an important skillset have to ‘move the needle.’ It was one thing to take care of patients, but it was another to inspire other people. And that’s what I think a leader does, a leader listens and inspires others.”

    For women who advance to leadership roles, like Barry, the issue of gender doesn’t necessarily fade away. “It’s something I think about all the time, mostly as a mentor to women now,” she told me. “I do think it is harder for a woman to achieve leadership. There’s no question about it.”

    Although women comprise roughly 75 percent of the health work force and most students in academic and global health tracks, women hold just eight of the 34 World Health Organization executive board positions and fewer than 25 percent of the global health leadership positions at the top U.S. medical schools.

    Addressing why gender equality hasn’t spread to the leadership levels is one of the topics Barry hopes to discuss in the upcoming WLGH conference.

    “I think it has been a boys’ network,” Barry said. “I don’t think it’s malignant bias, I don’t think it’s misogyny. I think it’s more about unconscious bias, that we’re more comfortable with people that look and talk like us.”

    Men and women both have an important role to play in changing this unconscious bias but ultimately, “it’s up to women to step up to the plate,” Barry said.

    “I hope to inspire women to think leadership can be on top of their list and they can still do all the other things that are important,” she explained. “I managed to raise two wonderful daughters while dragging them all over the world doing global health. I’m very proud of them. Do you have kids?”

    “No,” I said.

    “You’ll see when you do,” Barry said. “It becomes very important what you leave them, the legacy that you leave them.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Scope is an award-winning blog founded in 2009 and produced by the Stanford University School of Medicine. If you’re curious about the latest advances in medicine and health and enjoy compelling, fresh and easily digestible news and features, then we’ve got just the thing. We’ve written quite a bit (7,000 posts and counting!), and we’re quite proud of it — so please enjoy.

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

  • richardmitnick 2:17 pm on July 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Amygdala, Kay Tye, , Neurons, , Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, Women in STEM   

    From MIT Tech Review: Women in STEM – “How the Brain Seeks Pleasure and Avoids Pain” Kay Tye 

    MIT Technology Review
    M.I.T Technology Review

    June 27, 2017
    Amanda Schaffer

    Neuroscientist Kay Tye

    As a child, Kay Tye was immersed in a life of science. “I grew up in my mom’s lab,” she says. At the age of five or six, she earned 25 cents a box for “restocking” bulk-ordered pipette tips into boxes for sterilization as her mother, an acclaimed biochemist at Cornell University, probed the genetics of yeast. (Tye’s father is a theoretical physicist known for his work on cosmic inflation and superstring theory.)

    Today, Tye runs her own neuroscience lab at MIT. Under large black lights reminiscent of a fashion shoot, she and her team at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory can observe how mice behave when particular brain circuits are turned on or off. Nearby, they can record the mice’s neural activity as the animals move toward a particular stimulus, like sugar water, or away, if they’re crossing a floor that delivers mild electric shocks. Elsewhere, they create brain slices to test in vitro, since these samples retain their physiological activity, even outside the body, for up to eight hours.

    Tye has been at the forefront of efforts to pinpoint the sources of anxiety and other emotions in the brain by analyzing how groups of neurons work together in circuits to process information. In particular, her work has contributed to a profound shift in researchers’ understanding of the amygdala, a brain area that has been thought of as central to fear responses: she has found that signaling in the amygdala can in fact reduce anxiety as well as increase it. To gain such insights, she has also made crucial advances in a technique, called optogenetics, that allows researchers to activate or suppress particular neural circuits in lab animals using light. Optogenetics was developed by Stanford neuroscientist and psychiatrist Karl ­Deisseroth, and it represented a breakthrough in efforts to determine the role of specific parts of the brain. While Tye was working in his laboratory as a postdoc, she demonstrated, for the first time, that it was possible to pinpoint and control specific groups of neurons that were sending signals to specific target neurons.

    No image caption or credit.

    This fine-grained approach is important because drugs that treat conditions like anxiety currently do not target specific circuits, let alone individual neurons; rather, they operate throughout the brain, which often leads to undesirable side effects. Tye’s research may eventually help open the door to drugs that affect only specific neural circuits, reducing anxiety with fewer side effects.

    Such work has earned formal accolades, including a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama, a Freedman Prize for neuroscience, and a TR35 award, recognizing outstanding researchers under the age of 35. Tye has also won high praise from others in her field who admire the creative breadth of her ambition. “She’s not afraid to ask the most fundamental questions, the ones most other scientists shy away from,” says Sheena Josselyn of the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute.

    The questions she takes on involve emotions and phenomena that loom large in human experience, such as reward-seeking, loneliness, and compulsive overeating. Her goal is to understand their neural basis—to bridge the gap between brain, as understood by neuroscientists, and the mind, as conceived more expansively by psychiatrists, psychologists, and other students of human behavior.

    Would-be novelist

    Though it might seem as if Tye was born to be a scientist, she says her choice of career was anything but inevitable. In high school, she was ambivalent about science and gravitated instead toward writing; she wrote plays, short stories, and poetry. “In my mind, I was going to be a novelist,” she recalls.

    Still, while applying to college, she included MIT on her list, partly to humor her parents, Bik-Kwoon Tye and Henry Tye, both of whom had earned PhDs there in 1974. And when she received an acceptance letter, her father found it hard to disguise his feelings as his eyes welled with tears. “I’d never in my life seen my dad cry,” she says. She decided that she ought to give scientific learning a more dedicated try. She also convinced herself (with parental encouragement) that focusing on the natural world would give her more to write about down the road.

    As a freshman at MIT, Tye joined the lab of Suzanne Corkin, who was working with H.M., one of the most famous patients in the history of neuroscience. H.M., whose name was revealed to be Henry Molaison upon his death in 2008, suffered from profound amnesia after a lobotomy to treat seizures; studying his condition allowed researchers to probe the neural underpinnings of memory. One of Tye’s roles in the group was to make H.M. a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. He would eat it and then, moments later, with crumbs still on his face, ask, “Did we have lunch yet?”

    Researchers troubleshoot behavioral boxes in which mice learn to form positive and negative associations with sounds. No image credit.

    “It made me appreciate that these basic functions, like memory, that are so key to who we are have biological substrates in the brain,” she says. Neuroscience can be intimidating and filled with jargon, she adds. But the experience with H.M., along with an inspiring introductory psychology class taught by Steven Pinker, “made it seem worth it to slog through the all-nighters” to understand the biological mechanisms behind psychological constructs.

    Still, after graduation, Tye wanted to make sure she was “looking around,” thinking about who she was and who she wanted to be. So she spent a year backpacking in Australia, where she worked on a farm, lived in a yoga ashram, taught yoga, camped out on the beach, and worked on a novel. She found that writing was “hard and lonely.” She enjoyed teaching yoga but didn’t see it as a satisfying career path.

    “I came out of that year surprisingly ready to go to grad school,” she says. Diving back into the academic world, she initially struggled to find a lab that would accept her and almost dropped out after her first year. But she found a mentor in Patricia Janak, who became her advisor, and earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of California, San Francisco, in 2008.

    A surprise in the amygdala

    In 2009, Tye joined Deisseroth’s lab at Stanford. Deisseroth had already developed optogenetics, which gave researchers a much more precise way to identify the contributions of individual neurons within a circuit. Along with others in the lab, Tye used optogenetics to probe the connection between two parts of the amygdala, an almond-shaped region that is crucial to anxiety and fear. She first identified neurons in one area (known as the basolateral amygdala) that formed connections to neurons in another amygdalar area (known as the central nucleus) by sending out projections of nerve fibers. When she stimulated those basolateral amygdala neurons, she was able to reduce anxiety in mice. That is, she could cause the animals to spend more time in open spaces and less time cowering to the side. This was surprising, because when researchers stimulated the amygdala as a whole, the mice’s behavior grew more anxious.

    At first, everyone asked, “Are you sure you’re using the tool right? What’s going on?” she recalls. But after meticulous validation, in 2011, Tye and the group published their results in Nature, showing that some circuitry within the amygdala helps to calm animals down. This paper also represented a breakthrough in optogenetic technique. For the first time, researchers were able to zero in on and manipulate a specific part of a brain circuit: particular groups of neurons communicating with known target neurons. The technique, known as optogenetic projection-specific manipulation, is now considered one of the key tools of neuroscience.

    In 2012, Tye came to MIT as an assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the Picower, continuing her work on anxiety. While setting up her lab, she targeted neurons within the amygdala that seemed to have the opposite effect on mouse anxiety, causing it to increase. These brain cells are also located in the basolateral amygdala, but they send projections to a nearby region known as the ventral hippocampus. When Tye stimulated this circuit using optogenetics, the mice avoided open spaces, apparently suffering from anxiety. (When she inhibited the connections from forming, the animals hung out in the open again, their anxiety seemingly alleviated.) Tye proposed that neighboring neurons in the amygdala can have opposite effects on animals’ behavior, depending on the targets to which they send signals.

    Tye lab grad students Chris Leppla and Caitlin Vander Weele and postdocs Praneeth Namburi and Stephen Allsop. No image credit.

    Threats and rewards

    At the time, most researchers studying the amygdala still tended to focus mainly on its role in fear. Yet Tye suspected that activity in this part of the brain might encode a stimulus as either rewarding or threatening, good or bad, helping individuals decide how to respond. “There are many stimuli we encounter in our daily lives that are ambiguous,” says Conor ­Liston of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell. “A social interaction, for example, can be either threatening or rewarding, and we need brain circuits devoted to differentiating which is which.”

    By looking at the relative strength of the currents passing through two glutamate receptors known to indicate synaptic strength, Tye discovered that different neural connections in mice were reinforced depending on whether a particular stimulus was linked to a reward or a threat. When mice learned to associate a sound with a treat of sugar, she found stronger synaptic input to the neurons in the basolateral amygdala that were sending information to the nucleus accumbens, which is part of the brain’s reward circuitry. On the other hand, when mice learned to associate the sound with mild electric shocks to their feet, input signals grew stronger in circuits leading from the basolateral amygdala to the centromedial amygdala, which is involved in pain and fear. In addition, she demonstrated a trade-off: when one of these circuits grew more active, the other grew less so. In other words, she had found how the brain encodes information that allows mice to differentiate between stimuli that are rewarding and those that are potentially harmful. The results were published in Nature in 2015.

    In recent work, Tye also probed the circuitry involved in making split-second decisions when both threatening and rewarding cues are present at the same time. She and her team focused this time on connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, an area responsible for higher-order thinking. (Specifically, they examined interactions between the basolateral amygdala and the prelimbic medial prefrontal cortex.) Using optogenetics and other techniques, they showed that this circuitry was active when the animals were simultaneously exposed to a potential sugar treat and a potential electric shock and had to make a decision about how to behave. Her results, which appeared in April in Nature Neuroscience, help illuminate how animals figure out what to do in the face of complex and sometimes contradictory cues.

    Grad student Caitlin Vander Weele examines magnified images of brain slices to verify that a calcium sensor is targeting a specific type of neuron. No image credit.

    Cravings and compulsions

    As a graduate student, Tye had worked with researchers focused on addiction, but she was more interested in natural rewards, like sugar, than in substances that are regularly abused. In 2012, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to limit the portion size of sodas sold in movie theaters, stadiums, and fast-food restaurants. Tye found herself wondering what exactly, at a brain level, causes people to crave sugary treats, above and beyond the normal drive to satisfy hunger.

    So she delved into the neural circuitry. In a paper published in 2015 in Cell, she and her team focused on neurons in the lateral hypothalamus (LH), a brain area involved in drives like hunger, and studied their projections into another region, called the ventral tegmental area (VTA), known to play a role in both motivation and addiction. Using optogenetics, she and her team showed that turning on specific LH-VTA connections caused the mice to gorge on sugar, while turning them off reduced the compulsive overeating.

    On her desktop, Tye loads a video demonstration featuring a mouse with a cable for light transmission attached to its brain. The video shows the mouse moving around, casually at first. Then, when the laser light is turned on to activate specific neurons in the LH-VTA circuit, the animal becomes frantic, running and licking the floor. Soon after, it brings its empty paws up to its mouth and does a pantomime of tasting and nibbling. “It engages in this complicated motor sequence and pretends to eat, which is crazy because there’s no food,” says Tye. In other words, turning the circuit on causes the animal to behave compulsively. Turning it off has the opposite effect.

    Crucially, though, while switching off this circuit prevents compulsive behavior, it does not affect normal eating. That is, it is possible to define a brain-based difference between at least some healthy and unhealthy drives to eat. This suggests that it might be possible to develop targeted drugs or even some form of biofeedback that might someday help people reduce unhealthy cravings without blocking ordinary hunger.

    Another recent finding, about loneliness, arose serendipitously from a project that postdoc Gillian Matthews had begun as a graduate student at Imperial College London with Mark Ungless. ­Matthews noticed that mice that had been isolated for 24 hours during experiments displayed stronger neural signaling in the brain’s dorsal raphe nucleus, which participates in reward signaling—and actively sought out the company of other mice. After she moved to Tye’s lab at MIT, Matthews and Tye developed the theory that the animals were craving interaction. In further experiments, they used optogenetics to turn off the signaling pathway in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Mice subjected to this treatment did not seem to seek out additional social interaction following time by themselves.

    Ultimately, Tye hopes that she and her team can speak to fundamental human questions, like why some people prefer to spend more time alone while others crave greater social contact.

    A lab without drama

    Though Tye’s lab is interested in the origins of phenomena like fear and compulsion, it is notable for its own lack of tension and conflict. Stephen Allsop, a postdoc who has worked with her for five years (several of which were spent as a graduate student), says that she stresses close collaboration among team members and oversees an upbeat, supportive culture: “It’s amazing how little drama we have in this lab.”

    “Along with scientific integrity, I make the positive, collaborative, open culture of my research group—and the happiness of the individuals within it—my top priority,” says Tye. “Scientific excellence is a close second.” Strong relationships with professors and mentors are part of the draw of science, she adds.

    Indeed, she says, they are second only to the bonds between parents and children. In 2013, Tye and her husband, Jim Wagner, a software developer, had a daughter, Keeva, who has already accompanied her to conferences around the world. Their son, Jet, was born last year. And the children have found a place in her lab, much as she found a niche in her mother’s (though they have yet to earn paid positions). As she told Nature when Keeva was still an infant: “If my daughter all of a sudden needs to be picked up, I bring her to my lab meeting or meet with people while I bounce her. If she has a total meltdown, then sometimes I have to bail and follow up later.”

    But while she may be easygoing as a parent and a lab leader, Tye finds plenty of drama in neuroscience itself, and she keeps returning to its central questions because they are so enticing. Though she says she reads fewer novels now than she used to, she still seems compelled by the kinds of mysteries a writer might probe: Why does a hero set out on a journey? Why does the chatter in his or her head go awry and lead to gloomy soliloquizing or anxious self-sabotage? Like a novelist, she exhibits tremendous creative breadth. “There is something special about science,” she says. “Your new work is based on what you did previously. And if you’re lucky, you can help shape the future.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The mission of MIT Technology Review is to equip its audiences with the intelligence to understand a world shaped by technology.

  • richardmitnick 11:15 am on July 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Lise Meitner, , UC Berkeley Nuclear Research Center, Women in STEM   

    Brought Forward by Larry Zamick, Rutgers Physics From UC Berkeley Nuclear Research Center: Women in STEM – Lise Meitner 

    UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley Nuclear Research Center

    Lise Meitner

    Lise Meitner [3] (7 November 1878 – 27 October 1968) was an Austrian, later Swedish, physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. [4] Meitner was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission, an achievement for which her colleague Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize.[5] Meitner is often mentioned as one of the most glaring examples of women’s scientific achievement overlooked by the Nobel committee.[6][7][8] A 1997 Physics Today study concluded that Meitner’s omission was “a rare instance in which personal negative opinions apparently led to the exclusion of a deserving scientist” from the Nobel.[9] Element 109, Meitnerium, is named in her honour.[10][11][12].

    Meitner was born into a Jewish family as the third of eight children in Vienna, 2nd district (Leopoldstadt). Her father, Philipp Meitner,[13] was one of the first Jewish lawyers in Austria.[8] She was born on 7 November 1878. She shortened her name from Elise to Lise.[2][14] The birth register of Vienna’s Jewish community lists Meitner as being born on 17 November 1878, but all other documents list it as 7 November, which is what she used.[1] As an adult, she converted to Christianity, following Lutheranism,[1][15] and being baptized in 1908.[16]

    Scientific career

    Inspired by her teacher, physicist Ludwig Boltzmann, Meitner studied physics and became the second woman to obtain a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Vienna in 1905 (“Wärmeleitung im inhomogenen Körper”).[8] Women were not allowed to attend institutions of higher education in those days, but thanks to support from her parents, she was able to obtain private higher education, which she completed in 1901 with an “externe Matura” examination at the Akademisches Gymnasium. Following the doctoral degree, she rejected an offer to work in a gas lamp factory. Encouraged by her father and backed by his financial support, she went to Berlin. Max Planck allowed her to attend his lectures, an unusual gesture by Planck, who until then had rejected any women wanting to attend his lectures. After one year, Meitner became Planck’s assistant. During the first years she worked together with chemist Otto Hahn and discovered with him several new isotopes. In 1909 she presented two papers on beta-radiation.

    In 1912 the research group Hahn-Meitner moved to the newly founded Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (KWI) in Berlin-Dahlem, south west in Berlin. She worked without salary as a “guest” in Hahn’s department of Radiochemistry. It was not until 1913, at 35 years old and following an offer to go to Prague as associate professor, that she got a permanent position at KWI.

    In the first part of World War I, she served as a nurse handling X-ray equipment. She returned to Berlin and her research in 1916, but not without inner struggle. She felt in a way ashamed of wanting to continue her research efforts when thinking about the pain and suffering of the victims of war and their medical and emotional needs.[17]

    Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn in their laboratory. Wikepedia

    In 1917, she and Hahn discovered the first long-lived isotope of the element protactinium, for which she was awarded the Leibniz Medal by the Berlin Academy of Sciences. That year, Meitner was given her own physics section at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Chemistry.[8]

    In 1922, she discovered the cause, known as the Auger effect, of the emission from surfaces of electrons with ‘signature’ energies.[18] The effect is named for Pierre Victor Auger, a French scientist who independently discovered the effect in 1923.[19]

    In 1926, Meitner became the first woman in Germany to assume a post of full professor in physics, at the University of Berlin. There she undertook the research program in nuclear physics which eventually led to her co-discovery of nuclear fission in 1939, after she had left Berlin. She was praised by Albert Einstein as the “German Marie Curie”.[8][20][21]

    In 1930, Meitner taught a seminar on nuclear physics and chemistry with Leó Szilárd. With the discovery of the neutron in the early 1930s, speculation arose in the scientific community that it might be possible to create elements heavier than uranium (atomic number 92) in the laboratory. A scientific race began between Ernest Rutherford in Britain, Irène Joliot-Curie in France, Enrico Fermi in Italy, and the Meitner-Hahn team in Berlin. At the time, all concerned believed that this was abstract research for the probable honour of a Nobel prize. None suspected that this research would culminate in nuclear weapons.

    When Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, Meitner was acting director of the Institute for Chemistry. Although she was protected by her Austrian citizenship, all other Jewish scientists, including her nephew Otto Frisch, Fritz Haber, Leó Szilárd and many other eminent figures, were dismissed or forced to resign from their posts. Most of them emigrated from Germany. Her response was to say nothing and bury herself in her work; she later acknowledged, in 1946, that “It was not only stupid but also very wrong that I did not leave at once.”[22]

    After the Anschluss, her situation became desperate. In July 1938, Meitner, with help from the Dutch physicists Dirk Coster and Adriaan Fokker, escaped to the Netherlands. She was forced to travel under cover to the Dutch border, where Coster persuaded German immigration officers that she had permission to travel to the Netherlands. She reached safety, though without her possessions. Meitner later said that she left Germany forever with 10 marks in her purse. Before she left, Otto Hahn had given her a diamond ring he had inherited from his mother: this was to be used to bribe the frontier guards if required. It was not required, and Meitner’s nephew’s wife later wore it.

    Meitner was lucky to escape, as Kurt Hess, a chemist who was an avid Nazi, had informed the authorities that she was about to flee. An appointment at the University of Groningen did not come through, and she went instead to Stockholm, where she took up a post at Manne Siegbahn’s laboratory, despite the difficulty caused by Siegbahn’s prejudice against women in science. Here she established a working relationship with Niels Bohr, who travelled regularly between Copenhagen and Stockholm. She continued to correspond with Hahn and other German scientists.[23]

    Nuclear fission

    Hahn and Meitner met privately in Copenhagen in November to plan a new round of experiments, and they subsequently exchanged a series of letters. Hahn and Fritz Strassmann then performed the difficult experiments which isolated the evidence for nuclear fission at his laboratory in Berlin. The surviving correspondence shows that Hahn recognized that fission was the only explanation for the barium, but, baffled by this remarkable conclusion, he wrote to Meitner. The possibility that uranium nuclei might break up under neutron bombardment had been suggested years before, notably by Ida Noddack in 1934. However, by employing the existing “liquid-drop” model of the nucleus,[24] Meitner and Frisch were the first to articulate a theory of how the nucleus of an atom could be split into smaller parts: uranium nuclei had split to form barium and krypton, accompanied by the ejection of several neutrons and a large amount of energy (the latter two products accounting for the loss in mass). She and Frisch had discovered the reason that no stable elements beyond uranium (in atomic number) existed naturally; the electrical repulsion of so many protons overcame the strong nuclear force.[24] Meitner also first realized that Einstein’s famous equation, E = mc2, explained the source of the tremendous releases of energy in nuclear fission, by the conversion of rest mass into kinetic energy, popularly described as the conversion of mass into energy.

    Nuclear fission experimental setup, reconstructed at the Deutsches Museum, Munich. http://blog.nuclearsecrecy.com/tag/vannevar-bush/

    A letter from Bohr, commenting on the fact that the amount of energy released when he bombarded uranium atoms was far larger than had been predicted by calculations based on a non-fissile core, had sparked the above inspiration in December 1938. Hahn claimed that his chemistry had been solely responsible for the discovery, although he had been unable to explain the results.

    It was politically impossible for the exiled Meitner to publish jointly with Hahn in 1939. Hahn and Strassman had sent the manuscript of their paper to Naturwissenschaften in December 1938, reporting they had detected the element barium after bombarding uranium with neutrons;[25] simultaneously, they had communicated their results to Meitner in a letter. Meitner, and her nephew Otto Frisch, correctly interpreted their results as being nuclear fission and published their paper in Nature.[26] Frisch confirmed this experimentally on 13 January 1939.[27]

    Meitner recognized the possibility for a chain reaction of enormous explosive potential. This report had an electrifying effect on the scientific community. Because this could be used as a weapon, and since the knowledge was in German hands, Leó Szilárd, Edward Teller, and Eugene Wigner jumped into action, persuading Albert Einstein, a celebrity, to write President Franklin D. Roosevelt a letter of caution; this led eventually to the establishment several years later of the Manhattan Project. Meitner refused an offer to work on the project at Los Alamos, declaring “I will have nothing to do with a bomb!”[28] Meitner said that Hiroshima had come as a surprise to her, and that she was “sorry that the bomb had to be invented.”[29]

    In Sweden, Meitner was first active at Siegbahn’s Nobel Institute for Physics, and at the Swedish Defence Research Establishment (FOA) and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, where she had a laboratory and participated in research on R1, Sweden’s first nuclear reactor. In 1947, a personal position was created for Meitner at the University College of Stockholm with the salary of a professor and funding from the Council for Atomic Research.[30]

    Awards and honours

    Meitner with actress Katherine Cornell and physicist Arthur Compton on 6 June 1946, when Meitner and Cornell were receiving awards from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Wikimedia

    On 15 November 1945 the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced that Hahn had been awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission.[31] Some historians who have documented the history of the discovery of nuclear fission believe Meitner should have been awarded the Nobel Prize with Hahn.[32][33][34]

    On a visit to the USA in 1946, she received the honour of “Woman of the Year” by the National Press Club and had dinner with President Harry Truman and others at the National Women’s Press Club. She lectured at Princeton, Harvard and other US universities, and was awarded a number of honorary doctorates. Lise Meitner refused to move back to Germany, and enjoyed retirement and research in Stockholm until her late 80s. She received the Max Planck Medal of the German Physics Society in 1949. Meitner was nominated to receive the prize three times. An even rarer honour was given to her in 1997 when element 109 was named meitnerium in her honour.[8][35][36] Named after Meitner were the Hahn-Meitner Institut in Berlin, craters on the Moon and on Venus, and a main-belt asteroid.

    Meitner was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1945, and had her status changed to that of a Swedish member in 1951.

    In 1966 Hahn, Fritz Strassmann and Meitner were jointly awarded the Enrico Fermi Award.

    Lise Meitner received 21 scientific honours and awards for her work (including 5 honorary doctorates and membership of many academies). In 1947 she received the Award of the City of Vienna for science. She was the first female member of the scientific class of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In 2008, the NBC defence school of the Austrian Armed Forces established the “Lise Meitner” award.

    In 1960, Meitner was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal and in 1967, the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art.

    Public facilities such as schools and streets were named after her in many cities.

    Later years

    After the war, Meitner, while acknowledging her own moral failing in staying in Germany from 1933 to 1938, was bitterly critical of Hahn and other German scientists who had collaborated with the Nazis and done nothing to protest against the crimes of Hitler’s regime. Referring to the leading German scientist Werner Heisenberg, she said: “Heisenberg and many millions with him should be forced to see these camps and the martyred people.”

    Lise Meitner’s grave in Bramley. Wikipedia

    She wrote to Hahn:

    “You all worked for Nazi Germany. And you tried to offer only a passive resistance. Certainly, to buy off your conscience you helped here and there a persecuted person, but millions of innocent human beings were allowed to be murdered without any kind of protest being uttered … [it is said that] first you betrayed your friends, then your children in that you let them stake their lives on a criminal war – and finally that you betrayed Germany itself, because when the war was already quite hopeless, you did not once arm yourselves against the senseless destruction of Germany.”

    Hahn however wrote in his memoirs that he and Meitner had been lifelong friends.[38]

    Meitner became a Swedish citizen in 1949. She finally decided to retire in 1960 and then moved to the UK where most of her relatives were, although she continued working part-time and giving lectures. A strenuous trip to the United States in 1964 led to Meitner having a heart attack, from which she spent several months recovering. Her physical and mental condition weakened by atherosclerosis, she was unable to travel to the US to receive the Enrico Fermi prize and relatives had to present it to her. After breaking her hip in a fall and suffering several small strokes in 1967, Meitner made a partial recovery, but eventually was weakened to the point where she moved into a Cambridge nursing home. She died on 27 October 1968 at the age of 89. Meitner was not informed of the deaths of Otto Hahn and his wife Edith, as her family believed it would be too much for someone as frail as her to handle.[4] As was her wish, she was buried in the village of Bramley in Hampshire, at St. James parish church, close to her younger brother Walter, who had died in 1964. Her nephew Otto Frisch composed the inscription on her headstone. It reads “Lise Meitner: a physicist who never lost her humanity.”

    See the full article for 38 references with links.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of California at Berkeley Nuclear Research Center

    Nuclear energy offers the potential for creating reliable, carbon-free, domestically produced base electricity to meet rising energy demands. A dramatic expansion of nuclear power is already underway internationally, and U.S. domestic expansion of nuclear power is on the verge of becoming a reality. However, longer-term challenges remain in the areas of waste disposition, proliferation of nuclear technologies and materials, fuel resource management and fuel cycle economics. Left unaddressed, these challenges will prevent realization of the full potential of nuclear energy. The degree to which nuclear energy can sustainably meet long-term energy needs will depend on the development of advanced methods and technologies, together with implementation of sound domestic and international policies.

    The University of California Berkeley Nuclear Research Center (BNRC) was formed in January 2009 with financial support through the UC Office of the President. The principal focus of the center is to address critical sustainability issues for the nuclear fuel cycle with the specific objectives of:

    Enabling Human Capital Development. In light of the relative hibernation of nuclear energy basic and applied research in the U.S. in the last 25 years, it is essential to rebuild the nuclear energy technology and science base. The U.S. nuclear workforce is aging and key legacy expertise is being lost at an alarming rate. Sustainability of any nuclear enterprise will require development of the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers. Combined, the UC and its Laboratories uniquely posses the expertise to address all waste, safety, proliferation, security and economic considerations of the nuclear fuel cycle. The BNRC will foster an educational environment and, in close collaboration with the three UC National Laboratories, financially support unique research opportunities for the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers.
    Creating Knowledge and Information to Inform National Policy Decisions. There are many diverse advanced fuel cycle concepts which have been proposed for achieving sustainability (enhanced waste disposition, safety, security, proliferation risk reduction and economic viability) of the nuclear energy enterprise. The complexities of interconnected environmental, safety and security considerations often make it difficult to develop policy consensus on the appropriate path forward. Through supported research and technical engagements, the BNRC will strive to disseminate clear science-based information and transparent insight into both the benefits and the challenges of proposed advanced concepts, and thus serve as a reliable resource for national policy makers faced with decisions on future nuclear research and development directions.
    Fostering International Collaborations. The U.S. and other developed nations have a shared responsibility to ensure nuclear energy expansion world-wide is done safely and securely, and cooperation on international design concepts and regulatory requirements is essential. Situated at the doorway to the Pacific Rim, and drawing upon close cultural ties and the long tradition of UCBÕs Asia-Pacific contacts, the BNRC will promote effective engagement with the Asian nations where international nuclear power expansion is most prolific. International engagements will be supported through continuation of the thematically focused UC Office of the President Nuclear Technology Forums, and the sponsorship of a major, annual Pacific-Rim Conference on Nuclear Technology Challenges and Opportunities at UC Berkeley.
    Fostering Campus – National Laboratory Collaborations. The BNRC will provide a mechanism for research and teaching engagements of National Laboratory scientists and engineers with the students and faculty in the UC Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering. This will enable the synergistic sharing of knowledge essential for spanning all aspects of nuclear fuel cycle development (e.g. NNSA laboratory scientists instructing on the fundamentals of international nuclear safeguards), and bring to bear diverse perspectives on the research and evaluation of advanced nuclear fuel cycle concepts.
    Attracting Resources and Building R&D Capabilities. Reenergizing the nuclear research and development necessary to address nuclear sustainability concerns will require the commitment of resources for computational and experimental efforts, and resources for vigorous continued engagements with international collaborators. Only through such efforts can U.S. policy makers obtain the basis for informed decision-making. The BNRC will work to identify sponsorship from federal agencies, industry and international community in order to extend its size and scope, and bring more researchers, scientists and international collaborators to Berkeley. The BNRC will identify the correct high-impact research efforts necessary to clearly answer compelling sustainability issues and provide advocacy for resourcing these key efforts.

    The tremendous energy and environmental stewardship demands facing the world will require multiple, contributing energy solutions. Nuclear energy can play a very significant long-term role if sustainability issues are appropriately studied, addressed and resolved. The BNRC will focus on development of the future generations of nuclear experts, new knowledge base, and requisite international collaborations and cooperation in order to promote the best sustainability solutions for the international nuclear energy enterprise.

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal


    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, where Larry is in the Department of Physics and I was a student, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    Rutgers smaller
    Please give us back our original beautiful seal which the University stole away from us.
    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

  • richardmitnick 11:41 am on July 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Science Spin, , Women in STEM   

    Brought Forward by Larry Zamick, Rutgers Physics: Women in STEM -“The Pulsar Superstar – Jocelyn Bell Burnell” 

    Science Spinning

    July 5, 2011
    Sean Duke

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell from Lurgan Co. Armagh discovered a new type of star, called pulsars in the 1960s.

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell, pictured [above], who grew up and was educated in Lurgan, discovered pulsars, a new family of incredibly compact tiny stars back in 1968.

    Network of pulsars could be used to search for the ripples in space-time. David Champion NASA JPL

    This diagram of a pulsar shows the neutron star with a strong magnetic field (field lines shown in blue) and a beam of light along the magnetic axis. As the neutron star spins, the magnetic field spins with it, sweeping that beam through space. If that beam sweeps over Earth, we see it as a regular pulse of light. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab)

    It was a discovery that many astronomers believed merited a Nobel Prize. The Nobel Committee agreed and a Prize was duly awarded for the discovery in 1974. The problem was the Prize went not to Jocelyn, but to her supervisor.

    At the time she made the discovery, 67-year-old Jocelyn (who is still an active researcher) was a 24-year old post-graduate student. She was also a woman. Those things still mattered in science in the 1960s, and might have helped explain why the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics, awarded for the pulsar discovery, went to Jocelyn’s male supervisor, Antony Hewish and his senior colleague Martin Ryle. Many astronomers are still unhappy about this decision and have openly suggested that Jocelyn should, at the very least, been a co-recipient of the Prize. That the two prize winners never felt the need to recognise Jocelyn’s work, is a scientific scandal.


    It was far from certain that Jocelyn would attain the heights she has attained in science, and she had to overcome many obstacles in her path. She was born in Belfast, but spent most of her first 13 years in Lurgan. She failed the ’11 plus’ exam, the test that children take in Britain and Northern Ireland before entering secondary school. This exam is crucial as it usually determines whether a child is admitted to a ‘grammar school’ where the focus is on getting students to university. Her failure at the 11 plus wasn’t fatal, as she had been attending the Grammar School in Lurgan, and the school agreed to keep her on for a few years before she went off to a boarding school in England. However, she did admit much later that the failure ‘shook her’, and she didn’t chose to mention it until she attained the status of Professor.

    Looking back today, Jocelyn believes that the 11 plus curriculum at the time didn’t suit her, as she said there wasn’t any science in it. Her scientific ability was certainly obvious when she came top of her class in her first term in secondary school at Lurgan Grammar. However, before that, there was another hurdle to cross. That came when the girls and boys were segregated into two groups in her first year of secondary school. Jocelyn thought that the separation might have ‘something to do with sport’, but was horrified when she realised that the boys were being brought to the science lab, while the girls were being packed off to learn about domestic science. It was the 1950s and girls in Lurgan, and all over Ireland, north and south, weren’t given any encouragement to do science. Jocelyn’s parents decided to ‘kick up a fuss’ and, as a result she was permitted to join the boys doing science, along with the daughter of a local doctor, and one other girl. It was a close call, and Ireland almost lost perhaps its most accomplished ever female scientist before she even had a chance to show what she could do.

    She finished out her two remaining years in Lurgan Grammar and then it was off to England. Jocelyn’s family were Quakers, and there was a family tradition of sending the children to Quaker schools in England. Jocelyn attended MountSchool, in York. She recalls that it was good to get away from home, though traumatic to begin with. In England, in the Fifties, girls were not discouraged from doing science, so it was a different atmosphere to Ireland. Jocelyn did very well in her studies, despite what she recalls as a mixed standard of science teaching.

    She made it through the roller-coaster of her primary and secondary school education to get accepted into Glasgow University to study science. There she did well enough to be accepted to do a PhD in the University of Cambridge, a truly world-class university, choc-a-block with Nobel prize winning scientists, then and now. She began her PhD in 1965, working under the supervision of the aforementioned Hewish. The aim of the research project she was involved with was to find quasars. Jocelyn describes quasars as being “big, big things like galaxies, but they are incredibly bright and they send out a lot of radio waves”. The idea was to search for quasars by looking at natural sources of radio waves in the cosmos using a telescope array.

    An array is a group of linked telescopes, and a special array was constructed for the project at a four-acre site at the Mullard Astronomy Observatory near Cambridge.

    One-Mile Telescope at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO) operated by Cambridge University

    Jocelyn got stuck into the nitty-gritty of getting the project up and running, and spent her time initially banging stakes into the ground and connecting miles of copper wire. Finally, in July 1967, the array was ready.


    Jocelyn began the job of monitoring the sky for rapid fluctuations in radio waves that might indicate the presence of a quasar at a particular location. She had to read through literally miles of paper, and wade through mountains of data, searching for tell-tale signs of a quasar.

    On the 6th August 1967, a few weeks after the array came online, Jocelyn noticed something. She described the discovery that would change her life to this reporter in an interview in 2010:

    “It was totally accidental. I was doing the research project I had been set very conscientiously and happened across something unexpected. The analogy I use is imagine you are at some nice viewpoint making a video of the sunset and along comes another car and parks in the foreground and it’s got its hazard warning lights, its blinkers on, and it spoils your video. Well my project was looking at quasars, which are some of the most distant things in the universe. [Quasars] are big, big things like galaxies, but they are incredibly bright and they send out a lot of radio waves, which is what I was picking up. [I was] studying these distant quasars and something in the foreground sort of went ‘yo-hoo’! – not very loudly shall we say it was a pretty faint signal, but it turned out after a lot of checking up, and a lot of persistence to be an incredible kind of new star, which we have called a pulsar – pulsating radio star.”

    “They are tiny as stars go, they are only about 10 miles across, but they weigh the same as a typical star so they are very, very compact. The radio waves were coming naturally from some kind of star. We picked up these pulses and they were so unexpected that the first thing you have to do is suspect is that there is something wrong with the equipment, then suspect there is interference and then suspect something else, gradually force yourself to believe that it is something astronomical and it’s out there in the galaxy. The excitement came when I found the second one, because that really then begins to look like this is a new population we’ve discovered and we’ve just got the tip of the iceberg.”

    Inside a few weeks Jocelyn had discovered three more radio wave sources that were behaving in the same way. This proved beyond doubt that here was a new, real and probably entirely natural phenomenon, though there was some talk – only partly in jest – about the possibility that these pulsating radio waves were being sent across the Universe by an alien intelligence.

    A paper in Nature, the renowned scientific journal followed and it was published on the 24th February 1968. The press interest was huge after the paper came out, and Jocelyn and other people in the lab did a series of newspaper, radio and television interviews. Somehow she managed to get back to finishing her PhD, which she did in September 1968. But her life had changed, and she had become an overnight scientific celebrity, still only in her mid twenties.

    Jocelyn said that the practical importance of her new found fame was that she never found it difficult to pick up a job when she was travelling around Britain with her husband, Martin Bell. He was a civil servant that regularly moved from city to city. Jocelyn followed him and worked part time for many years raising their son Gavin, who was born in 1973, and is also a physicist.

    The down-side of achieving fame and success at an early stage was – as Jocelyn said to this reporter – that people expected her to come up with amazing discoveries all the time. A discovery such as finding pulsars comes only about once per decade in the astronomical community as a whole, and so it is a bit hard, she suggested, to live up to such expectations.

    These days she continues to work as a Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at Oxford University where she is free to conduct research without too many other duties being imposed on her. Whatever she might do before she retires, her scientific legacy is secure. In 2010, a pulsar conference was held in Sardinia to honour her 45 years in science and to ‘christen’ a new radio telescope. A long-time colleague Australian pulsar researcher, Dick Manchester, was asked to deliver a speech at the conference, detailing Jocelyn’s contribution to science.

    He said:

    “I think Jocelyn’s fame is greater because she didn’t receive the Nobel Prize in 1974 than it would have been if she had. I believe that the furore that her lack of recognition caused resulted in a change of attitude by the Nobel Committee and I’m sure more widely as well, with a heightened awareness of the role of students in projects and the role of women in science.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Sean Duke is a graduate of the prestigious New York University Science, Health & Environmental Reporting Programme (SHERP) and has a science journalist and communicator in Ireland for almost two decades.

    For most of that time, he has been working at a high level across various media, including magazines, radio, television and online.

    Since September 2016 he has been an Editor with Dublin-based medical publisher GreenCross Publishing, whose flagship publication is The Medical Independent.

    He is a regular science and technology contributor to Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1, The Sunday Times, Irish edition and The Morning Show with Declan Meehan on East Coast FM.

    Sean was a co-founder, and former Joint Editor of Ireland’s first popular science magazine, Science Spin, and has been a regular contributor to Science, and The Sunday Times, Irish edition.

    He has worked in television, conceiving, presenting and co-producing science slots for The Daily Show on RTE 1, and Ireland AM, with TV3.

    He has co-presented two RTE Radio 1 series, What’s It All About? (PPI Radio Award in 2014) and Life Matters (nominated for a PPI Award in 2015).

    He is an author, and his first book, How Irish Scientists Changed the World (Londubh, 2013) reached number 2 on the best seller list at Dublin’s Hodges Figgis bookstore.

    Sean is a former editor of Technology Ireland magazine, the flagship magazine of Enterprise Ireland, and prior to that began his career as a journalist working as a reporter with the Liffey Champion newspaper, based in Leixlip.

    Science Spinning, Sean’s Blog, began in 2009. It contains features, news, and opinion , video and audio pieces on what’s happening in science in Ireland, and around the world.

  • richardmitnick 4:31 pm on July 3, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Australian Government’s $8 million Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship competitive grants program, Dr Caroline Ford, Science and Technology Australia, Smashing stereotypes and forging a new generation of role models for young women and girls, Superstars of STEM, , Women in STEM   

    From UNSW: Women in STEM -“Superstars of STEM to inspire girls into science and technology careers” Dr Caroline Ford 

    U NSW bloc

    University of New South Wales


    03 Jul 2017
    Deborah Smith

    UNSW’s Caroline Ford is among the first 30 researchers to be named Superstars of STEM, a national program aimed at smashing stereotypes and forging a new generation of role models for young women.

    The Superstars of STEM program will support and train outstanding women to become prominent role models, promoting gender equity and inspiring more young women and girls to choose to study and work in STEM.

    UNSW cancer researcher Dr Caroline Ford is among the first 30 female scientists and technologists to be named Superstars of STEM, in a national program aimed at smashing stereotypes and forging a new generation of role models for young women and girls.

    Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Senator Arthur Sinodinos, announced the successful candidates at an event at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair launched by UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston.

    More than 300 women vied for a spot in the inaugural Superstar program, run by Science and Technology Australia. Winners will receive training and development to use social media, TV, radio and public speaking opportunities to carve out a more diverse face for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

    Dr Caroline Ford

    “Superstars of STEM is the first program of its kind and will prove vital for the future of STEM in Australia,” said Professor Johnston, who is President-Elect of Science and Technology Australia.

    “Often, when you ask someone to picture or draw a scientist, they immediately think of an old man with white hair and a lab coat. We want Australian girls to realise there are some amazing, capable and impressive women working as scientists and technologists too, and they work in and out of the lab in places you might not expect.

    “Science and technology have made our lives longer, happier, healthier and more connected. With more girls considering STEM careers, we have the potential to achieve so much more,” she said.

    Senator Sinodinos said that only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women. Women also occupy fewer than 20 per cent of senior research positions in Australian universities and research institutes.

    L-R: Dr Kate Umbers, Associate Professor Muireann irish, Dr Jodie Ward, Industry Minister Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO, Dr Nicky Ringland, UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston, UNSW Adjunct Associate Professor Lisa Harvey-Smith.

    “Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program – a world first – will support and train these outstanding women to become prominent role models, promoting gender equity and inspiring more young women and girls to choose to study and work in STEM,” he said.

    “I commend the significant commitment of these outstanding women for playing this important leadership role. Australia needs greater gender balance in the overall STEM workforce, where women occupy less than half of all positions.”

    The successful applicants work in areas including archaeology, robotics, medicine, education, psychology, neuroscience, agriculture, mathematics and engineering. They come from almost every state and territory and work in public, academic and private sectors.

    Dr Ford leads the Metastasis Research Group at the Lowy Cancer Research Centre at UNSW, whose aim is to understand how cancers metastasise or spread and identify targets for novel therapies.

    Industry Minister Senator Arthur Sinodinos AO with UNSW Dean of Science Professor Emma Johnston.

    She has extensive experience researching the molecular biology of breast and ovarian cancer and she also developed a massive open online course, or MOOC, on the impact of the genetic revolution on wider society, which has attracted more than 20,000 students from 158 countries in the past two years.

    Other Superstars of STEM announced today include Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute Dr Rebecca Johnson, Bureau of Meteorology Chief Scientist Dr Sue Barrell and evolutionary scientist Dr Celine Frere of the University of the Sunshine Coast, who gained her PhD from UNSW.

    The initiative was supported by a grant of $178,500 over two years from the Australian Government’s $8 million Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship competitive grants program.

    See here for a full list of winners.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    U NSW Campus

    Welcome to UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities. At UNSW, we take pride in the broad range and high quality of our teaching programs. Our teaching gains strength and currency from our research activities, strong industry links and our international nature; UNSW has a strong regional and global engagement.

    In developing new ideas and promoting lasting knowledge we are creating an academic environment where outstanding students and scholars from around the world can be inspired to excel in their programs of study and research. Partnerships with both local and global communities allow UNSW to share knowledge, debate and research outcomes. UNSW’s public events include concert performances, open days and public forums on issues such as the environment, healthcare and global politics. We encourage you to explore the UNSW website so you can find out more about what we do.

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: