Tagged: Women in STEM Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:40 am on June 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Cracking the code: Why aren't more women majoring in computer science?, , Women in STEM   

    From UCLA: “Cracking the code: Why aren’t more women majoring in computer science?” 

    UCLA bloc


    June 26, 2017
    Shana Vu

    While identifying the root cause for the gender gap that exists among computer science degree holders is difficult, researchers are finding that what happens in an introductory CS college classroom can greatly influence women’s decision to enter or stay out of the programming field. iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia.

    Close your eyes and picture a computer science college student. In all likelihood, you imagined a male. Sadly, statistics about who decides to major in computer science in college back you up. In 2015, women earned only 18% of all computer science degrees in the nation; that percentage dips even lower for women of color, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

    And while identifying the root cause for this gap is difficult, researchers are finding that what happens in a CS college classroom can greatly influence women’s decision to enter or stay out of the programming field. While there is increased interest in addressing gender disparity in Silicon Valley as well as a push to expose young girls to coding, what happens in between this pipeline has been largely left unstudied until now.

    The BRAID (Building, Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity) research team, led by Linda Sax, professor of higher education at UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, aims to pinpoint specific strategies to attract and retain women and students of color as computer science majors. “The university experience for prospective CS students, especially when it comes to introductory CS classes, can make or break a student’s decision,” says Sax.

    Sax’s research team is part of the BRAID Initiative, started by the Anita Borg Institute and Harvey Mudd College in 2014 — with funding from Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft — to increase the percentage of women and minorities in undergraduate computing programs. The initiative partners with 15 universities across the U.S. that have pledged to increase diversity and inclusivity within their own computer science departments.

    Armed with a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation awarded in 2015, Sax’s team is conducting an unprecedented, large-scale longitudinal study with the ultimate goal of identifying best practices for keeping women and students of color in the field.

    “We want to find out how CS departments can instill not only a sense of confidence in computing skills, but a sense of belonging within women and students of color,” Sax says.

    While women have made significant gains in many fields, including medicine, business and law, the percentage of women who receive CS degrees is the smallest across all STEM fields, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

    Most dishearteningly, the percentage of CS-degree holders who were women peaked in the 1980s at 34% and has been on a downward trend ever since, even though women currently earn 57% of all undergraduate degrees.

    “If girls aren’t involved in building technological products, not only are they missing out on some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying jobs,” Sax says, “we’re also missing out on the brainpower that these women can bring to the table.”

    To find out what students experience in an introductory CS class, surveys were distributed across the 15 BRAID schools, which include smaller, private schools, like Villanova University, as well as large public research institutions, like Arizona State University and UC Irvine.

    “While it is admittedly convenient to sample the BRAID-affiliated schools we work with, it’s surprising how well it maps onto the national trend,” says Kathleen Lehman, BRAID project manager at UCLA. “We account for geography, size of institution, whether it’s public and private.”

    The team also conducts student, departmental and faculty interviews, as well as syllabi analyses, and researchers track academic major trajectories and final degrees as well as long-term career aspirations to understand the factors that encourage a student to complete a CS degree.

    While the study will run for at least three more years, some initial findings have already emerged.

    A recurring theme in the qualitative interviews, for example, is that student experiences in introductory CS classes, especially those taken by non-majors, are instrumental in developing a desire to stay in the field.

    Women who take intro-to-CS classes tend to be further along in their college careers than men, and they are usually not CS majors. Since women are better represented in CS intro courses (32%) than among actual CS degree earners (16% among BRAID schools), BRAID researchers believe that CS intro classes are particularly significant in whether a student chooses to go down the CS pathway.

    Lehman stresses that students’ first impressions about CS are shaped by these introductory classes, especially because women, on average, are less likely to have taken a CS class in high school.

    When it comes to programming, you first have to master how to learn programming, Lehman said. “So if [an instructor] just assumes that all the students have some background in coding, it can put some students at a disadvantage.”

    Female students in these classes may also be made to feel as if they aren’t allowed to make mistakes.

    “Women are socialized to feel that they can’t fail and that they have to achieve perfection, so when their code doesn’t run, women often feel discouraged about their own abilities,” the project manager says. “Men, on the other hand, are often more aware of the fact that learning programming is a trial-and-error process and don’t see code not running as a reflection of their own skills.”

    Courtesy of the BRAID Initiative.

    Building smaller checkpoints to affirm successes and breaking down assignments into smaller parts can help students build confidence in their learning and work. That confidence, Lehman says, is key to retention within the world of programming and computer science.

    Collaboration also is a determining factor, according to Sax.

    “If someone stays in the major, it’s usually because they have strong peer connections,” she says. “When they leave, it’s not because they’re not capable, but it’s typically because they have this idea that CS does not contribute to the social good, and they want to help people.”

    A paradoxical finding is that even when men’s and women’s achievements are similar, women typically have lower confidence in their programming abilities than men.

    While these findings are far from conclusive, Lehman and Sax predict that there are a few main factors that explain the 4:1 ratio of men to women in CS.

    One factor is society’s portrayal of programmers, especially in media — think “Mr. Robot” and “Silicon Valley.” “Programming is seen as something that’s overtly masculine and geeky,” Sax said. “There’s this idea that a programmer is a skinny, nerdy hacker who has poor interpersonal skills and works in his basement.”

    And even if students don’t harbor these negative stereotypes, Sax says, many students tend to think that majoring in computer science means devoting their life to computers.

    “A lot of people think that CS and programming aren’t as impactful in society as other fields,” Sax explains. “In reality, programmers have an incredible social value.”

    The next big research question the team will tackle centers around CS undergraduate pathways and how those may differ between men and women. Sax also hopes to continue to follow up with non-majors who took introductory CS classes to see if their impressions have changed. And while Sax and Lehman are cautious about drawing definitive conclusions from their initial data, they are both optimistic about their findings so far.

    “I’m confident that with this study, we can find out what works and for whom,” Sax says, “and more importantly, see some change over time in diversifying computer science.”

    Read the complete story on UCLA’s Women in Tech website. This initiative is led by the Office of Information Technology and focuses on key issues that women and minorities face in the technology sector. You’ll find more features that showcase the women and research within the UCLA community in the fields of entrepreneurship and STEM.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC LA Campus

    For nearly 100 years, UCLA has been a pioneer, persevering through impossibility, turning the futile into the attainable.

    We doubt the critics, reject the status quo and see opportunity in dissatisfaction. Our campus, faculty and students are driven by optimism. It is not naïve; it is essential. And it has fueled every accomplishment, allowing us to redefine what’s possible, time after time.

    This can-do perspective has brought us 12 Nobel Prizes, 12 Rhodes Scholarships, more NCAA titles than any university and more Olympic medals than most nations. Our faculty and alumni helped create the Internet and pioneered reverse osmosis. And more than 100 companies have been created based on technology developed at UCLA.

  • richardmitnick 8:20 pm on June 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Radha Chhita, RIT, Women in STEM   

    From RIT: Women in STEM “Eight degrees of success for South African family” Radha Chhita 

    Rochester Institute of Technology

    March 28, 2017 [Well hidden, finally pops out into social media]
    Marcia Morphy

    Radha Chhita will get her master’s degree in May, becoming the eighth member of her family to attend RIT.

    RIT has become an educational legacy for eight members of the Chhita family from Johannesburg, South Africa.

    Radha will graduate in May with a Master of Science degree in professional studies from the School of Individualized Study (SOIS)—like her sisters Asha ’07, and Tulsi ’16, before her. Another sibling, Kalpana, earned an MS in print media in 2004, and their father, Kishor, received an AAS degree in printing from RIT in 1974. Three cousins also attended RIT: Yogesh Chhita ’06 (graphic media); Janak Chhita ’05, ’06 (graphic media, MBA); and Bhadresh Rama, who studied graphic communications from 1993-1994.

    And all work for Golden Era Group, the Chhita-family-owned business and second largest independent printing and packaging company in South Africa.

    “The business was started by my grandfather, Bhoola, in 1942, and we continue to carry on our grandfather’s dream to build a better future for his family,” said Radha. “We all have a deep family commitment and strong work ethic to become part of the company’s executive team.

    “My father, who is co-CEO with my sister Asha, believes everyone in the family should start working from the ground up. That’s the family rule: Whatever is needed is the role in the company we fill.”

    Technology is the infrastructure of Golden Era’s product line which includes folding cartons, self-adhesive and IML labels, shrink sleeves, boutique bags, thermoformed plastic containers, three-piece metal cans, and manufacturing and printing of corrugated boxes and papermaking.

    “I chose RIT over other printing and packaging offerings in the world because of its world-class program,” said Tulsi, who earned a Bachelor of Commerce in Accountancy and postgraduate Financial Management Honors in her homeland. “My father taught us all the equation in life: Opportunity + Instinct = Profit.”

    Similarly, Radha received an accounting sciences degree and a post graduate degree in accounting, and is finalizing her Chartered Accountancy while completing her SOIS print, packaging and business concentration at RIT. She says the sisters don’t mind studying or working hard—and all get along really well.

    “My observation of both Tulsi and Radha, and this can apply to the whole family, is that they had a mission when they came to RIT,” said Peter Boyd, SOIS lecturer and graduate program coordinator. “They showed up with a vision, were very clear about what they wanted to do, and able to articulate how a masters in professional studies would help them advance and impact their family business.”

    Radha left Rochester in December and is completing her capstone project from South Africa. “I’m the eighth in the family line coming to RIT,” she said. “We always joke that there should be a Chhita building named after us on campus as there will be many generations to come.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) is a private doctoral university within the town of Henrietta in the Rochester, New York metropolitan area.

    RIT is composed of nine academic colleges, including National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The Institute is one of only a small number of engineering institutes in the State of New York, including New York Institute of Technology, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It is most widely known for its fine arts, computing, engineering, and imaging science programs; several fine arts programs routinely rank in the national “Top 10” according to US News & World Report.

    The Institute as it is known today began as a result of an 1891 merger between Rochester Athenæum, a literary society founded in 1829 by Colonel Nathaniel Rochester and associates, and Mechanics Institute, a Rochester institute of practical technical training for local residents founded in 1885 by a consortium of local businessmen including Captain Henry Lomb, co-founder of Bausch & Lomb. The name of the merged institution at the time was called Rochester Athenæum and Mechanics Institute (RAMI). In 1944, the school changed its name to Rochester Institute of Technology and it became a full-fledged research university.

  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on June 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A growing number of pathogens are developing resistance to one or more antibiotics threatening our ability to treat infectious diseases, , MDK99-minimum duration for killing 99% of the population, , Prof. Nathalie Balaban, Simple Method Measures How Long Bacteria Can Wait Out Antibiotics, , Women in STEM   

    From HU- Women in STEM -“HU Researchers: Simple Method Measures How Long Bacteria Can Wait Out Antibiotics” Prof. Nathalie Balaban 

    Hebrew U of Jerusalem bloc

    The Hebrew University

    No writer credit

    Prof. Nathalie Balaban at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. (Credit: Bruno Charbit for Hebrew University)

    The efficient classification of bacterial strains as tolerant, resistant, or persistent could help to guide treatment decisions, and could ultimately reduce the ever-growing risk of resistance.

    A growing number of pathogens are developing resistance to one or more antibiotics, threatening our ability to treat infectious diseases. Now, according to a study published in Biophysical Journal, a simple new method for measuring the time it takes to kill a bacterial population could improve the ability of clinicians to effectively treat antimicrobial-tolerant strains that are on the path to becoming resistant.

    “These findings allow measurement of tolerance, which has previously been largely overlooked in the clinical setting,” says senior study author Prof. Nathalie Balaban, the Joseph and Sadie Danciger Professor of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “Routinely measuring tolerance could supply valuable information about the duration of antibiotic treatments, reducing the chance of both under- and over-treatment. Furthermore, data compiled from such measurements could give an estimate of how widespread the phenomenon of tolerance really is, which is currently a complete unknown.”

    According to the World Health Organization, antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health and is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. Due to selective pressure, pathogens acquire resistance through mutations that make the antibiotic less effective, for example, by interfering with the ability of a drug to bind to its target. Currently, clinicians determine which antibiotic and dose to prescribe by assessing resistance levels using a routine metric called minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC)—the minimal drug concentration required to prevent bacterial growth.

    Although resistant strains continue to grow despite exposure to high drug concentrations, tolerant strains can survive lethal concentrations of an antibiotic for a long period of time before succumbing to its effects. Tolerance is often associated with treatment failure and relapse, and it is considered a stepping stone toward the evolution of antibiotic resistance. But unlike resistance, tolerance is poorly understood and is currently not evaluated in healthcare settings.

    “The lack of a quantitative measure means that this aspect of the treatment relies largely on the experience of the individual physician or the community,” says first author Asher Brauner, a PhD student in Balaban’s lab at the Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics. “This can lead to treatment being either too short, increasing the risk of relapse and evolution of resistance, or much too long, unnecessarily causing side effects, release of antibiotic waste into the environment, and additional costs.”

    To address this problem, Balaban and her team developed a tolerance metric called the minimum duration for killing 99% of the population (MDK99). The protocol, which can be performed manually or using an automated robotic system, involves exposing populations of approximately 100 bacteria in separate microwell plates to different concentrations of antibiotics for varied time periods, while determining the presence or lack of survivors.

    The researchers applied MDK99 to six Escherichia coli strains, which showed tolerance levels ranging from 2 to 23 hr under ampicillin treatment. MDK99 also facilitates measurements of a special case of tolerance known as time-dependent persistence—the presence of transiently dormant subpopulations of bacteria that are killed more slowly than the majority of the fast-growing population. Like other forms of tolerance, time-dependent persistence can lead to recurrent infections because the few surviving bacteria can quickly grow to replenish the entire population once antibiotic treatment stops.

    “A take-home message from this is that it is important to complete a course of antibiotic treatment as prescribed, even after the disappearance of the symptoms,” Balaban says. “Partial treatment gives tolerance and persistence mutations a selective advantage, and these, in turn, hasten the development of resistance.”

    In future studies, Balaban and her team will use MDK99 to study the evolution of tolerance in patients. Moreover, the ability to systematically determine the tolerance level of strains in the lab could facilitate research in the field. “If implemented in hospital clinical microbiology labs, MDK99 could enable the efficient classification of bacterial strains as tolerant, resistant, or persistent, helping to guide treatment decisions,” Balaban says. “In the end, understanding tolerance and finding a way to combat it could significantly reduce the ever-growing risk of resistance.”


    Scientists involved with this research are affiliated with The Racah Institute of Physics and The Center for NanoScience and NanoTechnology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and The Broad Institute of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    FUNDING: This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) (grant 681819) and the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) (grant 492/15).

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Hebrew University of Jerusalem campus

    The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, founded in 1918 and opened officially in 1925, is Israel’s premier university as well as its leading research institution. The Hebrew University is ranked internationally among the 100 leading universities in the world and first among Israeli universities.

    The recognition the Hebrew University has attained confirms its reputation for excellence and its leading role in the scientific community. It stresses excellence and offers a wide array of study opportunities in the humanities, social sciences, exact sciences and medicine. The university encourages multi-disciplinary activities in Israel and overseas and serves as a bridge between academic research and its social and industrial applications.

    The Hebrew University has set as its goals the training of public, scientific, educational and professional leadership; the preservation of and research into Jewish, cultural, spiritual and intellectual traditions; and the expansion of the boundaries of knowledge for the benefit of all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 12:35 pm on June 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Irish Centre for High-End Computing, , , PRACE, , , Sinéad Ryan, , Women in STEM   

    From Science Node= Women in STEM-“A day in the life of an Irish particle physicist” Sinéad Ryan 

    Science Node bloc

    Science Node

    02 Jun, 2017
    Tristan Fitzpatrick

    Sinéad Ryan is a quantum chromodynamics expert in Dublin. She relies on PRACE HPC resources to calculate the mass of quarks, gluons, and hadrons — and uncover the secrets of the universe.

    Uncovering the mysteries of the cosmos is just another day in the office for Sinéad Ryan.


    Ryan, professor of theoretical high energy physics at Trinity College Dublin, specializes in quantum chromodynamics (QCD). The field examines how quarks and gluons form hadrons, the fundamental starting point of our universe.

    “Quarks and gluons are the building blocks for everything in the world around us and for our universe,” says Ryan. “The question is, how do these form the matter that we see around us?”

    To answer this, Ryan performs numerical simulations on high-performance computing (HPC) resources managed by the Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe’s (PRACE).

    “I think PRACE is crucial for our field,” says Ryan, “and I’m sure other people would tell you the same thing.”

    When quarks are pulled apart, energy grows between them, similar to the tension in a rubber band when it is stretched. Eventually, enough energy is produced to create more quarks which then form hadrons in accordance with Einstein’s equation E=MC2.

    The problem, according to Ryan, comes in solving the equations of QCD. PRACE’s HPC resources make Ryan’s work possible because they enable her to run simulations on a larger scale than simple pen and paper would allow.

    “It’s a huge dimensional integral to solve, and we’re talking about solving a million times a million matrices that we must invert,” says Ryan.

    “This is where HPC comes in. If you want to make predictions in the theory, you need to be able to do the simulations numerically.”

    In Ireland, the Irish Centre for High-End Computing is one resource Ryan has tapped in her research, but PRACE enables her and her collaborators to access resources not just locally but across the world.

    IITAC IBM supercomputer

    “This sort of work tends to be very collaborative and international,” says Ryan. “We can apply through PRACE for time on HPC machines throughout Europe. In my field, any machine anywhere is fair game.”

    Besides providing resources, PRACE also determines whether HPC resources are suitable for the kinds of research questions scientists are interested in answering.

    “PRACE’s access to these facilities means that good science gets done on these machines,” says Ryan. “These are computations that are based around fundamental questions posed by people who have a track record for doing good science and asking the right questions. I think that’s crucial.”

    Without PRACE’s support, Ryan’s work examining how quarks and gluons form matter and the beginnings of our universe would be greatly diminished, leaving us one step further behind uncovering the building blocks of the universe.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Science Node is an international weekly online publication that covers distributed computing and the research it enables.

    “We report on all aspects of distributed computing technology, such as grids and clouds. We also regularly feature articles on distributed computing-enabled research in a large variety of disciplines, including physics, biology, sociology, earth sciences, archaeology, medicine, disaster management, crime, and art. (Note that we do not cover stories that are purely about commercial technology.)

    In its current incarnation, Science Node is also an online destination where you can host a profile and blog, and find and disseminate announcements and information about events, deadlines, and jobs. In the near future it will also be a place where you can network with colleagues.

    You can read Science Node via our homepage, RSS, or email. For the complete iSGTW experience, sign up for an account or log in with OpenID and manage your email subscription from your account preferences. If you do not wish to access the website’s features, you can just subscribe to the weekly email.”

  • richardmitnick 1:43 pm on June 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Caren Cooper, , , Women in STEM   

    From NC State via WCG: Women in STEM: “Leadership in Public Science: Meet Caren Cooper” Revised and Improved 

    NC State bloc

    North Carolina State University

    Presented by World Community Grid

    June 7, 2017
    Matt Shipman

    This is one in a series of five Q&As with the members of NC State’s Leadership in Public Science faculty cluster. Read more about the cluster.

    Caren Cooper wrote the book on citizen science. Literally. That made her a natural fit for NC State’s Leadership in Public Science effort.

    Cooper is an ecologist whose work involves collaborating with bird lovers to learn more about wildlife and ecosystems in urban, suburban and rural environments. She is assistant head of the biodiversity research lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and a research associate professor in NC State’s Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources. She came to Raleigh from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, but it was a bit of a homecoming; Cooper got her undergrad degree at NC State.

    As for her book, citizen science is right there in the title: Citizen Science: How Ordinary People Are Changing the Face of Discovery. You can also see Cooper talk about citizen science and its relationship to public science by checking out her TEDx talk online.

    Caren Cooper

    Learn about what Cooper is working on.

    What does your research focus on?

    I’m interested in a variety of natural processes and human behaviors related to environmental change. I value and use citizen science approaches to investigate natural-human systems and map environmental changes and disparities. I enjoy exploring the potential of citizen science to manage natural resources and to bring varied hobby groups into citizen science, like birders, nest box monitors, duck hunters, pigeon fanciers, etc.

    What does “public science” mean to you, and how does it factor into your work?

    To me, public science refers to science that is transparent, out in the open and accessible to all. I think of citizen science as networks of volunteers helping to advance knowledge and public scientists as professionals building and tending those networks and helping people make meaning of the collective information.

    I think successful public scientists must be familiar with the teamwork of designing and implementing citizen science, public communication of science in many forms and open science practices from the start of a research project to its completion and again with the next iteration. Citizen science often looks like it is simply people volunteering in service to science, but in a public science context, it is really about bridging the gap between science and society to make sure that science is in service to humanity.

    What drew you to public science in the first place?

    When I became a scientist, I liked to do all parts of scientific research myself. That’s how I defined being a scientist: someone who can carry out research independently. My husband and I started a family while I was pursing my Ph.D. Field work became difficult, and my priorities shifted.

    I was drawn to citizen science at first because it was a way for birdwatchers to collect all the data that I would ever need. Unexpectedly, it also sparked my interest in the social sciences, science communication and open science. I found it puzzling as to why scientists regarded citizen science poorly and typically failed to recognize its many contributions.

    At first I was bothered by the lack of acknowledging lay expertise and the efforts and abilities of volunteers. Then I became bothered by the lack of acknowledging the limits of scientific inquiry — there are some big questions that scientists can’t answer by working alone. Citizen science is a social movement among volunteers within science, which I find fascinating and exciting. Public science is a movement among professionals to support citizen science and other forms of public engagement in science, while also supporting the engagement of scientists with the public and in the public sphere.

    What sort of public science projects are you working on at NC State?

    I’m helping develop SciStarter.com as a central hub for people to find and participate in citizen science projects around the world. We are also designing SciStarter with tools to help projects become more sustainable by sharing resources related to recruitment, retention and communication with volunteer communities. With SciStarter, we will also help advance understanding of the design and outcomes of citizen science.

    I run a citizen science project called Sparrow Swap, which partners with volunteers who monitor nest boxes and view house sparrows as a pest species. They collect house sparrow eggs according to one of four protocol options and donate those eggs to the collections at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, where my lab is based. We use the eggs to study geographic variation in eggshell patterns and color, and to determine whether eggshells can be used as a biological tool for identifying and mapping environmental contaminants. Volunteers also collect data on the effectiveness of different management options, including swapping in egg replicas (which we paint at the museum) for real eggs and hopefully reducing house sparrow reproduction and their disturbance of native nesting birds. We are developing an online interactive guide to the basics of wildlife management principles.

    We are soon launching Sound Around Town in partnership with other universities to support soundscape studies led by the National Park Service (NPS). In Sound Around Town, volunteers will be able to borrow sound recording equipment from their local library and deploy the equipment in their backyards to provide soundscape data to the NPS. They will also use our listening app to ground-truth the recordings and provide information on their feelings and perceptions of each type of sound they identify. Though the equipment loans through libraries will be available only in select cities, we hope volunteers across the country will use the listening app in many urban and residential soundscapes. I’m interested in disparities among communities in noise pollution, which is a combination of actual soundscapes and perceptions of sounds.

    We are also starting to explore the potential of a citizen science project related to finding feather-degrading bacteria.

    As a public science cluster, in collaboration with the libraries, we want to make NC State a citizen science campus in which students campuswide have abundant opportunities to do citizen science as part of their campus life.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    NC State campus

    NC State was founded with a purpose: to create economic, societal and intellectual prosperity for the people of North Carolina and the country. We began as a land-grant institution teaching the agricultural and mechanical arts. Today, we’re a pre-eminent research enterprise that excels in science, technology, engineering, math, design, the humanities and social sciences, textiles and veterinary medicine.

    NC State students, faculty and staff take problems in hand and work with industry, government and nonprofit partners to solve them. Our 34,000-plus high-performing students apply what they learn in the real world by conducting research, working in internships and co-ops, and performing acts of world-changing service. That experiential education ensures they leave here ready to lead the workforce, confident in the knowledge that NC State consistently rates as one of the best values in higher education.

    World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”
    WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

    BOINC WallPaper


    My BOINC
    “Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

    Please visit the project pages-

    FightAIDS@home Phase II

    FAAH Phase II

    Rutgers Open Zika

    Help Stop TB
    WCG Help Stop TB
    Outsmart Ebola together

    Outsmart Ebola Together

    Mapping Cancer Markers

    Uncovering Genome Mysteries
    Uncovering Genome Mysteries

    Say No to Schistosoma

    GO Fight Against Malaria

    Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

    Computing for Clean Water

    The Clean Energy Project

    Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

    Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

    Help Fight Childhood Cancer

    Help Conquer Cancer

    Human Proteome Folding




    World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
    IBM Corporation

    IBM – Smarter Planet

  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on June 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , AugmentedWorld, BLOSSOMS, Miri Barak, Mobile learning, MOOC, , Women in STEM   

    From The Technion: Women in STEM “Learning in the Cloud” Miri Barak 

    Technion bloc


    Assistant Prof. Miri Barak

    Assistant Professor Miri Barak of the Technion presents AugmentedWorld: an innovative location-based platform based on the wisdom of the crowd

    Assistant Professor Barak, head of the Learning Technologies group at the Technion, is a leading expert in the fields of mobile learning, massive open online courses (MOOC) and cloud applications. In her research studies, she examines the cognitive and socio-cultural aspects of collaborative distance learning, motivation for learning, innovative thinking, and cognitive flexibility.

    According to Assistant Professor Barak, the process of globalization and the accelerated technological development require a rethinking of teaching and learning processes in the 21st century. “In the past, only the lecturers had access to new information, but today it’s at the students’ fingertips – on their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Web and cloud technologies connect the students to a pipeline of infinite information and they can share knowledge with people from all over the world. Classroom lectures are perceived as anachronistic by the students, therefore, we must find new ways to promote meaningful learning.”

    In light of the new reality, Assistant Professor Barak is leading the development of AugmentedWorld – an open web platform based on geographic information system technology (GIS) and the wisdom of the crowd. The platform implements innovative design principles for online learning with an open and adaptive system that enables users to create contents and add layers of information through the use of text, images and videos. One important feature of the system is that it is the learners who formulate questions and answer research and multimedia questions in the various fields of science and engineering. Since the system was launched, more than 850 users from Israel, China, and the United States have registered, posting scientific questions, geographic information points and data that contributes to solving scientific questions.

    In collaboration with Prof. Richard Larson of MIT, Assistant Professor Barak is promoting the development of a methodology for project-based learning using two complementary technologies: AugmentedWorld and BLOSSOMS. This joint project examines an integrative approach that combines technology-based learning and assessment, inside and outside the classroom. The project, which is funded by the MISTI program, is designed to promote scientific thinking and 21st century skills among learners of all ages from different parts of the world.

    “The ramifications of accelerated technological development are widespread and deep,” says Assistant Professor Barak, “and one of them is the ‘generation gap’ between lecturers and college students.” Advanced technologies, which are now a vital resource for students, are very rarely used in the teaching process. Web technologies, satellite-based systems, mobile devices, social media, collaborative writing documents, computer simulations, and more – all of these have yet to fully realize their potential in academic instruction.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Technion Campus

    A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten,
    dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership,
    for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity.

  • richardmitnick 9:29 pm on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Belle, , , , , , , Vera Lüth, Women in STEM   

    From SLAC: Women in STEM – “Q&A: SLAC’s Vera Lüth Discusses the Search for New Physics” 

    SLAC Lab

    June 7, 2017
    Manuel Gnida

    Vera Lüth, professor emerita of experimental particle physics at SLAC. (Dawn Harmer/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    Data from BABAR, Belle and LHCb experiments hint at phenomena beyond the Standard Model of particle physics.


    An electron-positron annihilation producing a pair of B mesons as recorded by the BABAR detector at the PEP-II storage rings. Among the reconstructed curved particle tracks is a muon (bottom left). The direction of the associated anti-neutrino (dashed arrow) is identified as missing momentum. Both particles originate from the same B-meson decay. (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

    KEK Belle detector, at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan

    CERN LHCb chamber, LHC

    The Standard Model of particle physics describes the properties and interactions of the constituents of matter.

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    The development of this theory began in the early 1960s, and in 2012 the last piece of the puzzle was solved by the discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland.

    CERN CMS Higgs Event

    CERN ATLAS Higgs Event


    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    Experiments have confirmed time and again the Standard Model’s very accurate predictions.

    Yet, researchers have reasons to believe that physics beyond the Standard Model exists and should be found. For instance, the Standard Model does not explain why matter dominates over antimatter in the universe. It also does not provide clues about the nature of dark matter – the invisible substance that is five times more prevalent than the regular matter we observe.

    In this Q&A, particle physicist Vera Lüth discusses scientific results that potentially hint at physics beyond the Standard Model. The professor emerita of experimental particle physics at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory is co-author of a review article published today in Nature that summarizes the findings of three experiments: BABAR at SLAC, Belle in Japan and LHCb at CERN.

    What are the hints of new physics that you describe in your article?

    The hints originate from studies of an elementary particle, known as the B meson – an unstable particle produced in the collision of powerful particle beams. More precisely, these studies looked at decays of the B meson that involve leptons – electrically charged elementary particles and their associated neutrinos. There are three charged leptons: the electron, a critical component of atoms discovered in 1897; the muon, first observed in cosmic rays in 1937; and the much heavier tau, discovered at the SPEAR electron-positron (e+e-) storage ring at SLAC in 1975 by Martin Perl.

    Due to their very different masses, the three leptons also have very different lifetimes. The electron is stable, whereas the muon and tau decay in a matter of microseconds and a fraction of a picosecond, respectively. A fundamental assumption of the Standard Model is that the interactions of the three charged leptons are the same if their different masses and lifetimes are taken into account.

    Over many years, different experiments have tested this assumption – referred to as “lepton universality” – and to date no definite violation of this rule has been observed. We now have indications that the rates for B meson decays involving tau leptons are larger than expected compared to the measured rates of decays involving electrons or muons, taking into account the differences in mass. This observation would violate lepton universality, a fundamental assumption of the Standard Model.

    What does a violation of the Standard Model actually mean?

    It means that there is evidence for phenomena that we cannot explain in the context of the Standard Model. If such a phenomenon is firmly established, the Standard Model needs to be extended – by introducing new fundamental particles and also new interactions related to these particles.

    In recent years, searches for fundamentally new phenomena have relied on high-precision measurements to detect deviations from Standard Model predictions or on searches for new particles or interactions with properties that differ from known ones.

    What exactly are the BABAR, Belle and LHCb experiments?

    They are three experiments that have challenged lepton universality.

    Belle and BABAR were two experiments specifically designed to study B mesons with unprecedented precision – particles that are five times heavier than the proton and contain a bottom or b quark. These studies were performed at e+e- storage rings that are commonly referred to as B factories and operate at colliding-beam energies just high enough to produce a pair of B mesons, and no other particle. BABAR operated at SLAC’s PEP-II from 1999 to 2008, Belle at KEKB in Japan from 1999 to 2010. The great advantage of these experiments is that the B mesons are produced pairwise, each decaying into lighter particles – on average five charged particles and a similar number of photons.

    The LHCb experiment is continuing to operate at the proton-proton collider LHC with energies that exceed the ones of B factories by more than a factor of 1,000. At this higher energy, B mesons are produced at a much larger rate than at B factories. However, at each crossing of the beams, hundreds of other particles are produced in addition to B mesons. This feature tremendously complicates the identification of B meson decays.

    To study lepton universality, all three experiments focus on B decays involving a charged lepton and an associated neutrino. A neutrino doesn’t leave a trace in the detector, but its presence is detected as missing energy and momentum in an individual B decay.

    What evidence do you have so far for a potential violation of lepton universality?

    All three experiments have identified specific B meson decays and have compared the rates of decays involving an electron or muon to those involving the higher mass tau lepton. All three experiments observe higher-than-expected decay rates for the decays with a tau. The average value of the reported results, taking into account the statistical and systematic uncertainties, exceeds the Standard Model expectation by four standard deviations.

    This enhancement is intriguing, but not considered sufficient to unambiguously establish a violation of lepton universality. To claim a discovery, particle physicists generally demand a significance of at least five standard deviations. However, the fact that this enhancement was detected by three experiments, operating in very different environments, deserves attention. Nevertheless, more data will be needed, and are expected in the not too distant future.

    What was your role in this research?

    As the technical coordinator of the BABAR collaboration during the construction of the detector, I was the liaison between the physicists and the engineering teams, supported by the BABAR project management team at SLAC. With more than 500 BABAR members from 11 countries, this was a challenging task, but with the combined expertise and dedication of the collaboration the detector was completed and ready to take data in four years.

    Once data became available, I rejoined SLAC’s Research Group C and took over its leadership from Jonathan Dorfan. As convener of the physics working group on B decays involving leptons, I coordinated various analyses by scientists from different external groups, among them SLAC postdocs and graduate students, and helped to develop the analysis tools needed for precision measurements.

    Almost 10 years ago, we started updating an earlier analysis performed under the leadership of Jeff Richman of the University of California, Santa Barbara on B decays involving tau leptons and extended it to the complete BABAR data set. This resulted in the surprisingly large decay rate. The analysis was the topic of the PhD thesis of my last graduate student, Manuel Franco Sevilla, who over the course of four years made a number of absolutely critical contributions that significantly improved the precision of this measurement, and thereby enhanced its significance.

    What keeps you excited about particle physics?

    Over the past 50 years that I have been working in particle physics, I have witnessed enormous progress in theory and experiments leading to our current understanding of matter’s constituents and their interactions at the most fundamental level. But there are still many unanswered questions, from very basic ones like “Why do particles have certain masses and not others?” to questions about the grand scale of things, such as “What is the origin of the universe, and is there more than one?”

    Lepton universality is one of the Standard Model’s fundamental assumptions. If it were violated, unexpected new physics processes must exist. This would be a major breakthrough – even more surprising than the discovery of the Higgs boson, which was predicted to exist many decades ago.

    What results do you expect in the near future?

    There is actually a lot going on in the field. LHCb researchers are collecting more data and will try to find out if the lepton universality is indeed violated. My guess is that we should know the answer by the end of this year. A confirmation will be a great event and will undoubtedly trigger intense experimental and theoretical research.

    At present we do not understand the origin of the observed enhancement. We first assumed that it could be related to a charged partner of the Higgs boson. Although the observed features did not match the expectations, an extension of the Higgs model could do so. Another possible explanation that can neither be confirmed nor excluded is the presence of so-called lepto-quarks. These open questions will remain a very exciting topic that need to be addressed by experiments and theoretical work.

    Recently, LHCb scientists have reported an interesting result indicating that certain B meson decays more often include an electron pair than a muon pair. However, the significance of this new finding is only about 2.6 standard deviations, so it’s too early to draw any conclusions. BABAR and Belle have not confirmed this observation.

    At the next-generation B factory, Super-KEKB in Japan, the new Belle II experiment is scheduled to begin its planned 10-year research program in 2018. The expected very large new data sets will open up many opportunities for searches for these and other indications of physics beyond the Standard Model.

    Super-KEKB in Japan

    Belle II at the SuperKEKB accelerator complex at KEK in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.

  • richardmitnick 8:46 pm on June 7, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars), , Janice Bishop, Janice Bishop Explores Mawrth Vallis and Salt Ponds in Australia, , Mawrth Vallis, , Women in STEM   

    From SETI Institute: “Janice Bishop Explores Mawrth Vallis and Salt Ponds in Australia” 

    SETI Logo new
    SETI Institute

    June 06, 2017
    Janice Bishop

    Mawrth Vallis (Mawrth means Mars in Welsh) is a valley on the planet Mars, with a deep channel formed by water in Mars’ ancient past. In 2016, SETI Institute chemist and planetary scientist Janice Bishop made an interesting discovery about the composition of rock layers that form the valley using data collected by the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

    CRISM is an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which was launched in 2005 and remains in orbit around Mars searching for evidence of past water.

    CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) searches for the residue of minerals that form in the presence of water, perhaps in association with ancient hot springs, thermal vents, lakes, or ponds that may have existed on the surface of Mars.

    Even though some landforms provide evidence that liquid water may have flowed on the surface of Mars long ago, evidence of mineral deposits created by long-term interaction between water and rock has been limited.

    CRISM’s visible and infrared spectrometers track regions on the dusty martian surface and map them at scales as small as 18 meters (60 feet) across, from an altitude of 300 kilometers (186 miles). CRISM reads the hundreds of “colors” in reflected sunlight to detect patterns that indicate certain minerals on the surface, including signature traces of past water.
    The principal investigator (lead scientist) for CRISM is Scott Murchie from the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University.

    From an altitude of 186 miles above the surface of Mars, CRISM collects visible and infrared signatures of certain minerals, including those that hold traces of past water. Using this orbital spectral data from CRISM, Janice identified a unique material sandwiched between two clay-bearing strata. This new phase appears to be mixtures of sulfates and acid-altered clays. One of the puzzling parts of this investigation is that two kinds of sulfates have been identified here: an acidic Fe-sulfate called jarosite and a neutral Ca-sulfate called gypsum. These two sulfates are not normally found together because of their different pH requirements.

    CRISM is an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which was launched in 2005 and remains in orbit around Mars searching for evidence of past water. From an altitude of 186 miles above the surface of Mars, CRISM collects visible and infrared signatures of certain minerals, including those that hold traces of past water. Using this orbital spectral data from CRISM, Janice identified a unique material sandwiched between two clay-bearing strata. This new phase appears to be mixtures of sulfates and acid-altered clays. One of the puzzling parts of this investigation is that two kinds of sulfates have been identified here: an acidic Fe-sulfate called jarosite and a neutral Ca-sulfate called gypsum. These two sulfates are not normally found together because of their different pH requirements.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter credit: NASA

    Here on Earth, other scientists have found combinations of jarosite, gypsum, as well as halite and clays in the highly saline ponds found in the desert of Western Australia. Apparently, the high salt (S, Cl) level enables formation of these sulfates in this kind of environment. Janice and SETI Institute colleague Lukas Gruendler recently visited these salt ponds in the Archean Yilgarn Craton region of Western Australia looking for mixtures of clays and sulfates similar to those Janice discovered in some of the clay-rich regions of Mars.

    Janice and Lukas hold up the expedition flag.

    Janice and Lukas decided to study samples from three of these sites in order to characterize the mineralogy of the surface crust and the material down a few centimeters in the hopes of learning about environments that could help us understand this puzzling salty outcrop on Mars.

    Sample analysis will continue in Janice’s mineral lab here at the SETI Institute and will help learn more about both Earth and Mars.

    Janice collecting samples at a salt pond

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

  • richardmitnick 3:16 pm on June 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , SAGE, STEMM, , Women in STEM   

    From Swinburne: Women in STEM-“Swinburne announces women in STEM research fellowship recipients” 

    Swinburne U bloc

    Swinburne University

    6 June 2017
    Lea Kivivali
    +61 3 9214 5428


    Swinburne has announced the recipients of the Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowships for women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) disciplines.

    The fellowships are designed to address the critical underrepresentation of women in STEM research and teaching. This program also supports Swinburne’s gender equity strategy.

    The successful applicants include:

    Dr Rosalie Hocking (Chemical Sciences)
    Dr Mahnaz Shafiei (Electrical Engineering)
    Dr Tatiana Kameneva (Biomedical Engineering) and
    Dr Louise Olsen-Kettle (Applied Mathematics).

    The recipients of the fellowship will be supported by a fellowship grant as well as through mentorship, research training and personal career development, with underlying on-going positions in the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology.

    “This fellowship scheme is evidence of our commitment and contribution to advancing gender equality in academia through coordinated and aligned research and academic strategy,” says Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Development) Professor Aleksandar Subic.

    Swinburne is committed to advancing gender equality in academia and was one of the first Australian universities to join the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot to improve the promotion and retention of women and gender minorities in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) disciplines.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    Swinburne U Campus

    Swinburne is a large and culturally diverse organisation. A desire to innovate and bring about positive change motivates our students and staff. The result is in an institution that grows and evolves each year.

  • richardmitnick 9:34 pm on June 5, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Natasha Hurley-Walker, , , Women in STEM   

    From SKA: Women in STEM – Natasha Hurley-Walker 

    SKA Square Kilometer Array



    On International Women’s Day 2017, we sat down with Australian astronomer Dr. Natasha Hurley-Walker, who just completed a two-month fellowship at the SKA Headquarters in the UK, to chat about her work, her background, and women in science.

    For a lot of people working in science fields, their interest in science was sparked when they were young. How did you get into astronomy?

    Ever since I first saw an episode of Star Trek I wanted to know more about space and was inspired by my visits to NASA’s Johnson Space Centre while I was living in Houston, Texas, during childhood. My parents fed my interest giving me access to as many science fictions and books as I could read, and I pursued mathematics and science at school.

    When it came to choose a path through university, I was strongly drawn to physics, which I felt was the only discipline that comes close to explaining how the universe operates.

    Looking back at your own path, what would you say characterises a career in astronomy?

    Travel! This might sound surprising to a lot of people but astronomers travel a lot. We study and work in different countries to acquire experience and collaborate on research with colleagues from around the world, which is very rewarding.

    I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol in the UK, and in the summer after my third year I joined the summer astronomy program at Jodrell Bank Observatory near Manchester and enjoyed the experience so much that I continued my research project as my Master project. During this period I discovered a previously unknown pulsar in the data I was working with, a huge reward for my hard work!

    After my Master’s, I was accepted for a PhD position at the University of Cambridge. There, as part of a small team of students, scientists, and engineers, I helped to commission a new radio telescope and performed some of its first science observations, which was very exciting.

    Natasha working on the MWA. http://skatelescope.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/NHW_Beta_receiver.jpg

    I then took up a Super Science Fellowship in Australia to help with the commissioning of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), the SKA-low precursor in Western Australia.

    Murchison Widefield Array,SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    I helped develop the software and data reduction processes to turn the raw data into usable images of the sky. This gave me a fantastic opportunity to use a brand new telescope as well as travel the world working on science projects with brilliant people. These collaborations have meant travelling to the USA, India, New Zealand, and all around Europe.

    I’m now an Early-Career Research Fellow at Curtin University in Australia. With the help of colleagues, I recently developed an extensive map of the southern radio sky mapping some 300,000 galaxies that can be used to model what the SKA will observe (read more).

    I recently undertook a two-month fellowship at the SKA Headquarters at Jodrell Bank in the UK to work with the science team there on expanding this idea into building the first surveys with the future SKA-low telescope.

    Lots of travel indeed! Another thing that seems to stand out from your experience is fine-tuning telescopes – almost like a mechanic – and the excitement of discovering something new. Would you say that’s a big motivation?

    Absolutely! What I enjoy about my job is solving a myriad of technical and scientific problems. It’s very satisfying to separate artefacts produced by the instrument from actual data, obtaining as close as possible an image of the real sky.

    Every so often I discover something completely unexpected and new, which is such a fantastic feeling. Recently I discovered an ancient radio galaxy which has nearly completely died. It’s the faintest one ever found, and interestingly the jets are coming from a spiral galaxy like our own rather than a more typical elliptical – that is very unusual because we only know of a few such examples out of hundreds of thousands of radio galaxies.

    What about the work environment? Astronomy, like many other sciences, suffers from a reputation of being a male-dominated environment, has this affected you personally?


    Even if I don’t feel gender discrimination or imbalance in my job I’m quite aware of the unconscious bias that may lead to my work and thoughts being undervalued. But aside from standing up for myself, I am helped by the men of my generation who tend to notice that sort of thing, and act as supportive allies when such situation arises.

    Occasionally at conferences or in meetings I notice the gender balance is male-skewed. Then again, in some fields, it’s now female-skewed. I feel that my work environment is very similar for women as it is for men. Last year marked my return from six months of maternity leave, which I was initially worried would heavily impact my work. While it hasn’t been perfectly straightforward coming back – I certainly can’t work ten-hour days when I feel like it anymore – my university and my colleagues have been very supportive and understanding. While I by necessity work fewer hours, I also now work “smarter”, knowing that my time is very precious and I need to spend it wisely.

    Flexible working practices like the ability to work from home when necessary, and the no-questions-asked one hour per day of leave that the university gives staff members returning from parental leave, have been extremely beneficial in helping me transition smoothly back into work.

    People from all over the world work on the SKA. We know that diversity in the workplace helps provide a healthy mix of ideas and solutions to problems that makes companies more successful, and yet it is a topic that is still sometimes poorly understood. What can be done to help improve awareness of its importance?

    I highly recommend facilitated workshops on unconscious bias. There is a large amount of research on bias in hiring procedures, in promotions, in workplace interactions, and as scientists we should all be open to using evidence to implement best practice. The workshops can be surprisingly fun: we ran one as part of the 2013 Women in Astronomy meeting in Perth, and many people commented that they learned a lot both about their workplaces and also about their own biases. For a fun test you can try at home, have a look at Project Implicit based at Harvard University. Award programmes like the Pleiades Awards and Athena Swan provide best-practice frameworks for organisations to improve their environments to promote equity, and their gold accreditations should be something all organisations aspire to achieving.

    Before we finish, inspiring the next generation to study STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields is an important part of what we do. What would you say to a young person who is interested in science but unsure about their study or career path?

    Follow your dreams and listen to your heart. Don’t take other people’s feeling into consideration, do what is right for YOU. You’ll know if you’re in the wrong path, because you’ll constantly be thinking about something else. If you get that feeling, look at your options, and change direction.

    Finally, we’re told that when you’re not busy discovering new radio galaxies you’re into board games and cycling. Tell us more!

    I absolutely adore board games; proper worker-placement Euros like Caylus, strategic PVPs like Robo Rally, and traitor games like Battlestar Galactica. I’m also a keen transport cyclist: in my family we have three bicycles, a tandem, a trailer, and a balance bike for my toddler son. I’m thinking about getting an e-bike, too! I think cycling is a win on all counts: great for the environment, fantastic for my health, a great mood-booster and mind-clearer at the start and end of the day, and it sure is faster, cheaper, and more fun than queuing in traffic. I also love science fiction, especially novels and the more mind-bending (and probably more obscure) TV shows and movies. I also enjoy cooking and have a food blog, sadly very rarely updated nowadays, but I have a lot to do!

    In December 2016 Natasha gave a great TEDxTalk in Perth about her work. Take a look!

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.
    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA Banner

    SKA CSIRO  Pathfinder Telescope
    SKA ASKAP Pathefinder Telescope

    SKA Meerkat telescope
    SKA Meerkat Telescope

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array
    SKA Murchison Wide Field Array

    About SKA

    The Square Kilometre Array will be the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10 000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes. The SKA will be built in Southern Africa and in Australia. Thousands of receptors will extend to distances of 3 000 km from the central regions. The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the Universe, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth. Construction of phase one of the SKA is scheduled to start in 2016. The SKA Organisation, with its headquarters at Jodrell Bank Observatory, near Manchester, UK, was established in December 2011 as a not-for-profit company in order to formalise relationships between the international partners and centralise the leadership of the project.

    The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, led by SKA Organisation. The SKA will conduct transformational science to improve our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics, monitoring the sky in unprecedented detail and mapping it hundreds of times faster than any current facility.

    Already supported by 10 member countries – Australia, Canada, China, India, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom – SKA Organisation has brought together some of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers and more than 100 companies and research institutions across 20 countries in the design and development of the telescope. Construction of the SKA is set to start in 2018, with early science observations in 2020.

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: