Tagged: Women in STEM Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:53 am on March 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Advances in artificial intelligence also make government policy changes necessary she said. She plans to set up a think tank centered on issues around AI., Amita Kuttner, Amita Kuttner is a Green Party candidate for a seat in Canada’s House of Commons, Amita Kuttner was away at boarding school in 2005 when the mudslide hit her parents’ home outside of Vancouver Canada., “But when I felt powerless to do anything I thought ‘I can’t stand this. I can’t see something unjust and not want to change it.’”, “I love to do astrophysics” she said “but right now we have to save the planet so that we can do astrophysics.”, “I was sitting in my adviser’s office crying because I felt so powerless and never before then had I ever wanted power” she said., “The climate of the university is such that we are encouraged to not take the world for what it is but to challenge the status quo” she said., “The intention is bigger than the means” she said. “In the end it doesn’t matter how things get accomplished. I’ll just try another way.”, Donald Trump was elected president and she felt she could no longer focus only on her science., Her father survived but suffered permanent brain injuries according to Kuttner, Her platform includes a push to have municipalities prepare better for disasters and to strengthen social safety nets for people whose jobs are eliminated because of automation, Her time at UC Santa Cruz not only led her to a study of black holes which is the focus of her thesis but also birthed her activism., Kuttner is a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, Kuttner led the Women in Physics and Astronomy group on campus, Kuttner said her campaign is very people centered., Kuttner said she has been fascinated by the universe and the nature of time since she was a young girl, Kuttner wants to establish a guaranteed livable income and to create policy to deal with the changes coming because of leaps in artificial intelligence technology, Kuttner went north to work on her Ph.D. and announce her Green Party candidacy. She will defend her thesis in May. The election is Oct. 21., She pointed herself toward the sciences early on, The disaster left her with post-traumatic stress disorder anxiety and depression., Tons of rocks soil and trees swept through her parent’s hillside house killing Kuttner’s mother Eliza while she slept and tossing her father Michael who was in the bathtub into the maelstrom., , Whether she wins the election or not Kuttner said she will continue to work on these issues., Women in STEM, Yet she graduated from high school and eventually landed at UC Santa Cruz where she completed her bachelor’s degree in physics in 2013 and received a master’s in 2016.   

    From UC Santa Cruz: Women in STEM-“Leading the charge for change” Amita Kuttner 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    March 08, 2019
    Peggy Townsend
    gwenj@ucsc.edu

    Alumna Amita Kuttner, a current graduate student in astrophysics, is running as a Green Party candidate for a seat in Canada’s House of Commons in order to make policy around climate change—a quest sparked by a devastating loss.

    1
    Alumna Amita Kuttner, current Astrophysics graduate student & Green Party candidate for a seat in Canada’s House of Commons.

    Amita Kuttner was away at boarding school in 2005 when the mudslide hit her parents’ home outside of Vancouver, Canada.

    Tons of rocks, soil, and trees swept through her parent’s hillside house, killing Kuttner’s mother, Eliza, while she slept and tossing her father, Michael, who was in the bathtub, into the maelstrom. He survived but suffered permanent brain injuries, according to Kuttner.

    The slide came after several days of extreme rain, and while Kuttner, a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, said she can’t specifically blame the disaster on climate change, she’s seen the devastating effects of recent wildfires, hurricanes, and floods that have been sparked by the Earth’s warming. She couldn’t just sit by, she said.

    Today, Kuttner, 28, is not only finishing her Ph.D. thesis but also running as a Green Party candidate for a seat in Canada’s 338-member House of Commons in order to help make policy for the changes we are facing.

    Her platform includes a push to have municipalities prepare better for disasters, to strengthen social safety nets for people whose jobs are eliminated because of automation, to establish a guaranteed livable income, and to create policy to deal with the changes coming because of leaps in artificial intelligence technology.

    “I love to do astrophysics,” she said by telephone from her home in a suburb of Vancouver, “but right now we have to save the planet so that we can do astrophysics.”

    Kuttner said she has been fascinated by the universe and the nature of time since she was a young girl and that she pointed herself toward the sciences early on. She was 14 and attending the private Mount Madonna School in the hills above Watsonville, Calif., when the slide struck her home. If she hadn’t been away at boarding school, she said, she would most likely have become another victim of the slide.

    The disaster left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression, she said. Yet, she graduated from high school and eventually landed at UC Santa Cruz, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in physics in 2013 and received a master’s in 2016.

    According to the College Nine grad, her time at UC Santa Cruz not only led her to a study of black holes, which is the focus of her thesis, but also birthed her activism.

    “The climate of the university is such that we are encouraged to not take the world for what it is but to challenge the status quo,” she said.

    Kuttner led the Women in Physics and Astronomy group on campus; learned about pushing back against outdated institutional policy; and spent hours in conversation with her adviser, Professor of Physics Anthony Aguirre, on big-picture topics that ranged from climate change to artificial intelligence. Aguirre is also associate director of the Foundational Questions Institute.

    Then, according to her, Donald Trump was elected president and she felt she could no longer focus only on her science.

    “I was sitting in my adviser’s office, crying because I felt so powerless, and never before then had I ever wanted power,” she said. “But when I felt powerless to do anything I thought, ‘I can’t stand this. I can’t see something unjust and not want to change it.’”

    Kuttner went north to work on her Ph.D. and announce her Green Party candidacy. She will defend her thesis in May. The election is Oct. 21.

    “It’s very easy to feel hopeless about the magnitude of the problems we face and how much we’re heading in the wrong direction,” Aguirre said. “But if you give in to that despair there’s no way those problems will be solved. Amita has taken that truth to heart, and chosen to be motivated rather than devastated. That’s a wonderful thing to see and gives me hope as well.”

    Kuttner said her campaign is very people centered. She believes that municipalities need to better prepare for the extreme weather that is coming by making sure people are ready, that communities can be resilient. She also believes government must address the root causes of people’s inability to make a decent living and also provide a guaranteed livable income, especially as jobs are lost because of automation.

    Advances in artificial intelligence also make government policy changes necessary, she said. She plans to set up a think tank centered on issues around AI.

    But whether she wins the election or not, Kuttner said, she will continue to work on these issues.

    “The intention is bigger than the means,” she said. “In the end, it doesn’t matter how things get accomplished. I’ll just try another way.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    .

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    1
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:27 pm on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mapping the deep dark seafloor, Marine Geophysics, , Microbial Science, , , The Ship's Doctor, The Ship’s Captain, Vessel construction, Voyage Management, Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women In STEM-“Seafaring superstars: Six women shining on our national science ship” 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    8 March 2019
    Kate Cranney

    1
    Toni Moate lead the construction of the massive research vessel, Investigator. Image: Chris McKay

    This International Women’s Day, we’d like you to meet the talented women on board our research vessel Investigator.

    Investigator travels from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge, delivering up to 300 research days a year. And on each voyage you’ll find female scientists, ship’s crew and support staff answering big questions, whether they’re studying ancient microbes or they’re ensuring the health and well-being of the people on board.

    The six women you’ll meet include an oceanographer, a doctor, a marine geophysicist, a voyage manager, a captain and—last boat not least!—a leader who oversaw the construction of the ship itself. Some of these women knew, when they were young, that science floated their boat. Others took a more sea-nic route. But one thing’s for shore: they’re all smart, adventurous, competent, courageous and hard-working.

    So steady your sea legs, you bunch of landlubbers, and let’s meet the women on board!

    Martina Doblin studies the first organisms on the planet
    2
    Martina Doblin studies microscopic organisms called microbes – the first organisms on the planet. Image: Doug Thost

    “When I was studying in Hobart I had the opportunity to volunteer on a voyage to Antarctica. I was really moved to see this pristine part of the planet. It changed me. I came back and the world looked different. I knew I’d chosen the right career path.”

    Martina is a biological oceanographer. She looks at microscopic organisms called microbes—the first organisms on the planet. As she points out, “If there were no microbes on the planet there’d be no people!” It’s important science, especially in the face of a changing climate: Martina seeks to understand what climate change and a warmer ocean will mean for these microbes.

    Martina has been on Investigator several times, including as the ship’s Chief Scientist. For Martina, “the Chief Scientist helps to make sure the scientists leave the ship with the data that they need to solve the big questions.”

    But it’s not just about her science. “I’ve been able to train several female biological oceanographers, which has been really satisfying, partly because it’s still a pretty male-dominated profession,” she says. “For young female scientists, it’s a very empowering thing to be able to do experiments on a big ship, to work at sea and use the equipment. It can be life changing”. Learn more about tiny organisms and big voyages!

    Fun fact: Martina’s identical twin also works in environmental science—she’s a plant biologist!

    Sheri Newman is the Ship’s Doctor, dentist, physiotherapist, counsellor…
    3
    Dr Sheri Newman was a ship doctor during a voyage to Antarctica, aboard RV Investigator.

    “As the Ship’s Doctor, I have to be the doctor, the dentist, the physiotherapist, the mental health counsellor and of course all the science roles. It’s a huge responsibility and one that I cherish.”

    When Sheri Newman was young, she knew she wanted to be a doctor and a surgeon. Jump ahead to 2016, and Sheri is a doctor and a surgeon. In Australia, women accounted for 50 per cent of all medical graduates, but women make up just 12 per cent of all surgeons—the smallest proportion of any medical speciality.

    But Sheri was resolute. “Going through the training is particularly intense, brutal even! The hours you have to put in, the mental and physical fatigue, can be quite a difficult and challenging career.” Mid-way through her training, Sheri decided that she “hadn’t had enough adventure” in her life at that point, so she took a year off and went to Antarctica as medical officer. “The experience was incredible.”

    The Antarctic experience got under skin. After her time on Investigator, she decided to become a wilderness doctor. She’s since been the Ship’s Doctor on many vessels in remote and exciting locations: she’s been to more than 17 countries, as a doctor, medical student and intrepid traveller.

    “[Through my work] I get the opportunity to work in a place that’s so isolated and so untouched … And my role is so varied: I get to be around the science crew, to be involved in what they do. And there are fabulous vistas … and whales! It’s truly special.”

    Tara Martin maps the deep, dark, mysterious seafloor
    4
    Tara Martin’s work links her back to the explorers: she maps the deep dark seafloor, as a marine geophysicist aboard RV Investigator.

    “I get immense satisfaction in my job. It’s not a normal job—I like that.”

    Tara is a marine geophysicist. She maps the deep ravines, plateaus and peaks of our uncharted seafloor, up to 11 000m below the ocean’s surface.

    “We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the sea floor … Australia has the third largest ocean zone in the word, and we’ve only mapped 25 per cent of it,” she explains. Each time Investigator goes to sea, Tara’s team maps more of this underwater world. Recently, Tara’s team revealed a diverse chain of volcanic seamounts located in deep water about 400km east of Tasmania. “Our job links us back to the explorers,” she remarks.

    But Tara wasn’t always so keen on science. “It wasn’t until I was much older that I looked at changes of career [and studied marine geophysics]. I didn’t know what physics was before then … so I worked hard at university. I worked really, really hard!”

    When she started working, life at sea wasn’t as female-friendly as it is now. “Over my 20 year career, I’ve certainly experienced moments where I’ve not been allowed to do work that my male colleagues were doing out on the back-deck, because I’m a woman. Things have changed.”

    Working at sea isn’t for everyone: Tara talks of long shifts, seven days a week. But then, she says, she’ll get to work with cutting edge science, or someone will make an exciting new discovery. For Tara, “Those are the moments you go to sea for!”

    Tegan Sime keeps the voyage science on course
    5
    Tegan Sime is a Voyage Manager aboard RV Investigator. She keeps the crew and scientists singing from the same sea-shanty songbook.

    “I’ve never really followed the same path as everybody else. Being a late bloomer isn’t necessarily a bad thing … I’ve just taken my time to really figure out what I want to do. And I’m there now. I’ve got a great job, a great career, and I love it.”

    When Tegan finished Year 12, she didn’t know what she wanted to do, so she volunteered at a sailing school. She loved the adrenaline and excitement of sailing, so volunteered on Young Endeavour. It was her first taste of tall ship sailing. “Being out on the middle of the ocean, in the quiet, on a creaky ship that was designed hundreds of years ago—there’s a romance to it. And it was so much fun! I just loved it.”

    At 23, Tegan was eager to study marine biology at university, but she hadn’t done so well the first time around at school. Determined, she did Year 12 again, got her high school certificate, started university, and did her honours aboard our former research vessel, Southern Surveyor.

    Years on, Tegan is a Voyage Manager on Investigator. She is the key liaison between the crew of the ship and the scientists—she brings their work together. She also plays a key role in the mood of the people aboard the ship: “I guess I’m a bit of an amateur counsellor and I try to help people get through the tougher times when we’re out there.”

    There’s no typical day at sea. She tells a story about her recent birthday. “We were down near the ice-edge in the Antarctic. I woke up at 3am, it was pitch black, but when I peeked through my curtains I could see the Aurora lighting up the sky! I raced up the bridge and there were a couple of people taking photos and footage, and they all started singing happy birthday to me under the Aurora. It was a really special experience.”

    Madeleine Habib is the captain of our ship (aye, aye!)
    6
    Madeleine Habib is a Ship’s Captain. She is part of a very small group of women seafarers in Australia: less than 1% of the workforce.

    “I am drawn to working on ships that have a purpose—I want my work to have purpose. Being a captain…it’s not always easy. There are times when you are literally making decisions that affect the survival of the people on board the vessel.”

    Madeleine is a Ship’s Captain. She began her seafaring career at 22: “I was enchanted—suddenly I’d found this mix between a physical and mental challenge and I felt really confident that that’s what I wanted to pursue.” But she had to break down some entrenched gender biases. “Everybody just assumed I was a cook, and I really resented that—just because I was a young woman on a boat, that shouldn’t be the only role open to me. So when I returned to Australia, I went for my first Captain’s licence. I wanted to be taken seriously in the maritime industry.”

    Women currently represent less than 1 per cent of the total number of seafarers in Australia. Madeleine is part of this pioneering group. “To young women I’d like to say that a life at sea is a viable career. It’s so important to believe in your own potential, and only be limited by your own imagination.”

    Toni Moate oversaw the building of our world-class research vessel Investigator
    7
    Toni Moate stands proud in front of Investigator. She oversaw the creation of this $120 million state-of-the-art research vessel.

    “Like many women, when I was first offered the opportunity to lead the project, I didn’t think I had the skill set. Now, when I see the Investigator, I feel incredible pride.”

    Not many people can say they were responsible for building Australia’s biggest state-of-the-art research vessel.

    In 2009, Toni was chosen to lead the build of Investigator. She spent the next five years propelling the creation of the $120 million ship. It took 3 million (wo)man hours, and some tense discussions in a male-dominated industry to build the ship. Toni is so familiar with Investigator that it “feels like I’m walking around my house!”

    Toni left school at 15, at the end of Year 10. At that stage, she’d never left Tasmania. She went into the public service, and hoped to be a secretary one day.

    Through her leadership role with the ship-build project, she’s shown her young daughters “that women can do a lot more than they think they can do.” As Toni says, “My daughters took away a lot of life lessons—I think they learned that hard work pays off; that you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. They feel as proud of that ship as I do.”

    And we couldn’t be prouder of Toni. In 2017, she was awarded the Tasmanian Telstra Business Woman of the Year. She is now our Director, National Collections & Marine Infrastructure. Her ambit includes RV Investigator, so she can still step on board and walk around her second home!

    Women and science—why do we need to rock the boat?

    If we’re going to build a healthy, prosperous Australia, we need all of the talented women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) to be part of the team.

    But women in STEMM face a number of barriers in their careers, some obvious, some covert. In STEMM fields, only 18 per cent of leadership positions are held by women. Since the 1980s, more than half of all students graduating with a Bachelor of Science or a life science PhD are women, but women make up less than 20 per cent of lead researchers at senior levels in universities and research institutes.

    So what are we doing to get more women on board … and on boards?

    So what are we doing to address gender equity?

    We’re part of the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) pilot and the Male Champions of Change (MCC) initiative.

    We were one of the first cohort members of Australia’s SAGE Athena Swan pilot program, and were recently awarded an Institutional Bronze Award. And we’re continuing to roll out our SAGE Action Plan, designed to drive systemic, long-term change towards gender equity within our organisation. You can read it here.

    And it’s not just an internal mission. We’re also addressing gender inequality in the research and projects that we deliver in developing nations.
    Happy International Women’s Day, everyone!

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

    So what can we expect these new radio projects to discover? We have no idea, but history tells us that they are almost certain to deliver some major surprises.

    Making these new discoveries may not be so simple. Gone are the days when astronomers could just notice something odd as they browse their tables and graphs.

    Nowadays, astronomers are more likely to be distilling their answers from carefully-posed queries to databases containing petabytes of data. Human brains are just not up to the job of making unexpected discoveries in these circumstances, and instead we will need to develop “learning machines” to help us discover the unexpected.

    With the right tools and careful insight, who knows what we might find.

    CSIRO campus

    CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia’s national science agency and one of the largest and most diverse research agencies in the world.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:28 am on March 8, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: According to PricewaterhouseCoopers upskilling just 1% of the Australian workforce into STEM roles would add $57 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product over 20 years., Arguably the highest-profile accolade is the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, As a society we have a moral duty to make sure that women can participate equally in the high‑growth areas of technologically-skilled jobs., Awards are effective methods of recognition since they acknowledge and reward excellence, By publicly recognising women’s achievements in science we reflect the collaborative and diverse nature of the fields today and boost the careers of their winners, In Australia only 16% of STEM graduates (Higher Education and VET) are women and 27% of the total STEM workforce is female., Nominating and supporting them in applications for high profile opportunities prizes and awards is a great place to start, Promotion of role models also helps retain women in STEM careers by defying gender stereotypes and reinforcing that successful STEM careers are possible, Public awards and honours are another excellent avenue for celebrating female STEM talent, Publicly recognising female excellence and leadership in STEM can go some way towards addressing this issue, Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program is providing training and opportunities for 60 female STEM practitioners in the latest round of their program, Self-belief is vital, So how can Australians support women in science technology engineering and maths (STEM)?, The economic imperative for greater female participation in STEM is overwhelming, The Tall Poppy Awards also engage the public in celebrating scientific excellence and recognise its importance in forming public policy, , We should not put up with a situation where half the population is ill‑equipped to take part in vast areas of employment as technology rapidly evolves, Winning a PM’s Prize is often life-changing, With a total award fund of AU$750000 given to outstanding scientists, Women are less likely to be nominated for awards and when they do win they are likely to receive less prestigious awards with lower prize money, Women in STEM, You can support career development by nominating a deserving scientist innovator or science teacher for recognition through a prize or award.   

    From University of New South Wales: “Women in STEM need your support – and Australia needs women in STEM”, a Lesson for the U.S. and Europe 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    [This is a great lesson for the U.S. and Europe]

    08 Mar 2019
    Lisa Harvey-Smith, Professor and Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador, UNSW

    You can support career development by nominating a deserving scientist, innovator or science teacher for recognition through a prize or award.

    1
    Only two women are in this photo from the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science award night: Minister Karen Andrews, and 2018 Life Scientist awardee Lee Burger. Image from Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

    In Australia, only 16% of STEM graduates (Higher Education and VET) are women, and 27% of the total STEM workforce is female.

    So how can Australians support women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)? Nominating and supporting them in applications for high profile opportunities, prizes and awards is a great place to start.

    The economic imperative for greater female participation in STEM is overwhelming. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, upskilling just 1% of the Australian workforce into STEM roles would add $57 billion to Australia’s gross domestic product over 20 years.

    But increasing gender equity in STEM matters beyond just economics. As a society we have a moral duty to make sure that women can participate equally in the high‑growth areas of technologically-skilled jobs. We should not put up with a situation where half the population is ill‑equipped to take part in vast areas of employment as technology rapidly evolves.

    In December 2018, I was appointed as the Australian Government’s Women in STEM Ambassador. My role is to advocate for gender equity in STEM, increase awareness of opportunities for women in STEM, build the visibility of women working in these fields and drive cultural and social change.

    Self-belief is vital

    Relatively low representation of women in STEM careers has many well documented causes.

    One reason that makes its presence felt at an early age is lower self-efficacy (the belief in your ability to succeed) experienced by young women, compared to young men in mathematics and the physical sciences.

    Publicly recognising female excellence and leadership in STEM can go some way towards addressing this issue.

    Representation in public life can also provide a strong set of role models to young women and shine a light on career paths that may not feel achievable. Promotion of role models also helps retain women in STEM careers by defying gender stereotypes and reinforcing that successful STEM careers are possible.

    Increasing visibility

    What is being done to improve the visibility of female STEM role models? There are many exciting projects currently underway that provide a platform for women in STEM professions.

    One is the ABC’s recent push to sign up more female subject-matter experts, given that only 26% of media mentions in relation to STEM stories in Australia are female..

    The Australian Academy of Science’s upcoming STEM women database will offer a similar service, by collating information on verified female experts who can be contacted for academic, consulting or media projects.

    Science and Technology Australia’s Superstars of STEM program is providing training and opportunities for 60 female STEM practitioners in the latest round of their program. This will hopefully propel many of them into the public eye, improving gender balance in the STEM media for future generations.

    And the winner is…

    Public awards and honours are another excellent avenue for celebrating female STEM talent. The most well-supported national awards provide media coverage, prize money and an increased platform for recipients to pursue projects for social benefit related to their area of expertise.

    My 2016 award of the Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Science Research led to several exciting and unexpected career opportunities for me, including media and public speaking engagements that raised the profile of my science.

    The Tall Poppy Awards also engage the public in celebrating scientific excellence and recognise its importance in forming public policy.

    Arguably the highest-profile accolade is the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. With a total award fund of $750,000 given to outstanding scientists, innovators and science teachers, they have the biggest budget in the business. Winning a PM’s Prize is often life-changing, leading to new opportunities and greater impact for the recipient’s work.

    2
    Prize winner Sarah Chapman pictured with Prime Minister Tony Abbott in 2013. Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

    For example, Sarah Chapman won the 2013 PM’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. Subsequently selected as a Queensland Government Science Champion, her innovative teaching strategies were featured on ABC’s Lateline.

    In 2016, Chapman was awarded a Barbara Cail STEM Fellowship and travelled overseas to gather evidence of international best practice in STEM education. With fellow recipient Dr. Rebecca Vivian she released a report: Engaging the Future of STEM: A study of international best practice for promoting the participation of young people, particularly girls, in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), which has contributed to the formulation of national STEM engagement policy.

    In 2017, Jenny Graves was the first solo female recipient of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science.

    Nominate a woman

    Awards are effective methods of recognition since they acknowledge and reward excellence in research, teaching and innovation and share the contemporary stories of STEM excellence with the public. By publicly recognising women’s achievements in science we reflect the collaborative and diverse nature of the field today and boost the careers of their winners.

    Women are less likely to be nominated for awards and when they do win, they are likely to receive less prestigious awards with lower prize money.

    This International Women’s Day, you can make a difference by nominating a deserving scientist, innovator or science teacher for recognition.

    There are only four days left to nominate for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science: they close on 12 March 2019. The Tall Poppy Science Awards close on 10 April 2019, and the Eureka Prizes close 3 May 2019.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:41 pm on March 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Another Obstacle for Women in Science: Men Get More Federal Grant Money", Among the top 50 institutions funded by the N.I.H. the researchers found that women received median awards of $94000 compared with $135000 for men, At the Big Ten schools including Penn State the University of Michigan and Northwestern female principal investigators received a median grant of $66000 compared with $148000 for men, “It means women are working harder with less money to get to the same level as men” said Dr. Woodruff a researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, “That first grant is monumentally important and determines your trajectory” said Carolina Abdala a head and neck specialist at the University of Southern California who won her first N.I.H. grant , But when it comes to the size of those awards men are often rewarded with bigger grants than women according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA, For ambitious young scientists trying to start their own research labs winning a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health can be career making, Having less money put women at a disadvantage making it harder to hire graduate students and buy lab equipment, Identifying the problem is a step toward solving the problem, , Only one in five applicants for an N.I.H. grant lands one, Over all the median N.I.H. award for female researchers at universities was roughly $126600 compared with $167700 for men., The disparity was even greater at the nation’s top universities, The N.I.H. did not dispute the study’s findings and said it was working to address the funding disparities and more broadly the gender inequities that bedevil women in the fields, The study analyzed 54000 grants awarded from 2006 to 2017 and used key benchmarks to ensure recipients were at similar points in their careers, The study by researchers at Northwestern University confirms longstanding disparities between men and women in the fields of science, There was one exception to the pattern- the study found that women who were applying for individual research grants received nearly $16000 more than male applicants 11% of grants, Women in STEM   

    From The New York Times: Women in STEM-“Another Obstacle for Women in Science: Men Get More Federal Grant Money” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    March 5, 2019
    Andrew Jacobs

    1
    A scientist working with radioactive material in the isotope laboratory of the National Institutes of Health, circa 1950. Credit National Institutes of Health.

    For ambitious young scientists trying to start their own research labs, winning a prestigious grant from the National Institutes of Health can be career making.

    But when it comes to the size of those awards, men are often rewarded with bigger grants than women, according to a study published Tuesday in JAMA, which found that men who were the principal investigators on research projects received $41,000 more than women.

    The disparity was even greater at the nation’s top universities. At Yale, women received $68,800 less than men, and at Brown, the median disparity was $76,500. Over all, the median N.I.H. award for female researchers was roughly $126,600, compared with $167,700 for men.

    The study, by researchers at Northwestern University, confirms longstanding disparities between men and women in the field of science. In recent years, a cavalcade of studies has documented biases that favor male researchers in hiring, pay, prize money, speaking invitations and even the effusiveness displayed in letters of recommendation.

    “It’s disappointing, but identifying the problem is a step toward solving the problem,” said Cori Bargmann, a neuroscientist who runs the $3 billion science arm of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization, and who was not involved in the study.

    In a statement, the N.I.H. did not dispute the study’s findings and said it was working to address the funding disparities and, more broadly, the gender inequities that bedevil women in the field.

    “We have and continue to support efforts to understand the barriers and factors faced by women scientists and to implement interventions to overcome them,” it said.

    Only one in five applicants for an N.I.H. grant lands one, an achievement that can be crucial in whether a young researcher succeeds or drops out of the field.

    “That first grant is monumentally important and determines your trajectory,” said Carolina Abdala, a head and neck specialist at the University of Southern California, who won her first N.I.H. grant in 1998. “It can help get you on the tenure track and it gets you into that club of successful scientists who can procure their own funding, which makes it easier to change jobs.”

    But the size of the grant can also be important in determining the scale and ambition of a junior researcher’s first lab. Teresa K. Woodruff, a co-author of the JAMA study, said that having less money put women at a disadvantage, making it harder to hire graduate students and buy lab equipment.

    “It means women are working harder with less money to get to the same level as men,” said Dr. Woodruff, a researcher at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “If we had the same footing, the engine of science would move a little faster toward the promise of basic science and medical cures.”

    The study analyzed 54,000 grants awarded from 2006 to 2017 and used key benchmarks to ensure recipients were at similar points in their careers. Among the top 50 institutions funded by the N.I.H., the researchers found that women received median awards of $94,000 compared with $135,000 for men. At the Big Ten schools, including Penn State, the University of Michigan and Northwestern, female principal investigators received a median grant of $66,000 compared with $148,000 for men.

    There was one exception to the pattern; in a curious twist, the study found that women who were applying for individual research grants received nearly $16,000 more than male applicants. Dr. Woodruff noted that such grants made up only 11 percent of N.I.H. grant money, but said more research was needed into funding disparities.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:00 am on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Eva Lincoln, For 10 weeks Lincoln was immersed in hands-on oceanographic research as a SURF student working under Dr. Susanne Menden-Deuer professor at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography and a leading expert , Lincoln presented her research on single-cell herbivores or ‘microzooplankton’ at the annual SURF conference this past July. For her work she was honored by Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan , , SURF-Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, The data collected will help scientists on board better understand how quickly plankton- the base of the marine food web- grow and die, The RV Endeavor the University of Rhode Island’s research vessel, , With SURF you are in the middle of a research lab learning all sorts of techniques and interacting with faculty graduate students and post-docs, Women in STEM   

    From University of Rhode Island: Women in STEM- “Ways of the Ocean Scientist” Eva Lincoln 

    From University of Rhode Island

    3.4.19
    No writer credit

    1
    Eva Lincoln (left) prepares plankton samples aboard the R/V Endeavor with Dr. Gayantonia Franze and undergraduate Anna Ward. Photo: Miraflor Santos/WHOI

    This past summer, Eva Lincoln was working in an unfamiliar place: a boat at the edge of the continental shelf, facing 12-foot swells and waking up at 2 a.m. to process water samples with tiny specks of phytoplankton in them. And she loved it.

    “Sleep was relative,” laughs Lincoln, a senior at Rhode Island College. “Our daily routine was, once we got to a station, to take water samples from the CTD (an instrument to measure salinity, temperature and depth profiles in the ocean), and place these water samples in our incubator. It was our job to make sure everything got done on time and that we handled the samples carefully.”

    For 10 weeks, Lincoln was immersed in hands-on, oceanographic research as a SURF student, working under Dr. Susanne Menden-Deuer, professor at URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography and a leading expert on plankton ecology.

    “She gave me the reins and said, ‘I want you to figure out what aspects of oceanography you find interesting, and then we can build a project from there,’” says Lincoln.

    At the end of her SURF experience, Lincoln was invited by Menden-Deuer to conduct research aboard the R/V Endeavor.

    The RV Endeavor, the University of Rhode Island’s research vessel. Photo courtesy of the Inner Space Center

    Working with a fellow undergraduate, Lincoln filtered the water samples over 24-hour and then 12-hour periods in order to achieve the most accurate chlorophyll readings. The data collected will help scientists on board better understand how quickly plankton, the base of the marine food web, grow and die.

    “It is a privilege to provide students with the opportunity to explore their own research interests, and Eva’s experience was the real thing,” notes Menden-Deuer. “With access to the high-caliber research environment at GSO, students like Eva quickly attain a high degree of proficiency, and as oceanographers, we gain a new colleague with a unique perspective.”

    2
    Eva explains her summer research at the annual SURF Conference to RI Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor and Christine Smith, Managing Director of Innovation at RI Commerce. Photo: Michael Salerno/URI

    Functioning as a researcher on board a ship was an entirely separate, and important, lesson for Lincoln.

    “At the dock, we had to make sure we had all of the equipment needed,” she explains. “On the first day we had to get up super early, and I was so sick. I had to go back to bed. There is so much that goes into not just the actual science, but preparing for the cruise.”

    The fourth-year RIC student, who also tutors anatomy and physiology at the Community College of Rhode Island, has always had a deeply inquisitive mind, and wanted to know more about plankton interactions in marine food webs.

    “I have always been the pain in the butt kid who asks, ‘Why does that happen?’” she says. ““Plankton are an essential part of the food web and are eaten by so many things. If you add more nutrients to the phytoplankton, does that make them happier and therefore better food for the zooplankton?”

    Dr. Sarah Knowlton, Lincoln’s advisor and chair of physical sciences at RIC, first suggested SURF as a possible research experience, meeting with the undergraduate this past spring to guide her through the application process.

    “With SURF, you are in the middle of a research lab, learning all sorts of techniques and interacting with faculty, graduate students and post-docs,” explains Knowlton. “The experience really builds confidence, and that students can cross institutions and see how things go is so valuable.”

    Lincoln presented her research on single-cell herbivores, or ‘microzooplankton,’ at the annual SURF conference this past July. For her work, she was honored by Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor at July’s SURF Conference for producing outstanding research.

    The RIC senior knows that she loves the environment and chemistry. Now, Lincoln’s focus is getting accepted to the best-fitting graduate program.

    “You get that little taste of what it is going to be like when you go to graduate school through SURF,” she emphasizes. “I can’t wait to be in graduate school myself.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The University of Rhode Island is a diverse and dynamic community whose members are connected by a common quest for knowledge.

    As a major research university defined by innovation and big thinking, URI offers its undergraduate, graduate, and professional students distinctive educational opportunities designed to meet the global challenges of today’s world and the rapidly evolving needs of tomorrow. That’s why we’re here.

    The University of Rhode Island, commonly referred to as URI, is the flagship public research as well as the land grant and sea grant university for the state of Rhode Island. Its main campus is located in the village of Kingston in southern Rhode Island. Additionally, smaller campuses include the Feinstein Campus in Providence, the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center in Providence, the Narragansett Bay Campus in Narragansett, and the W. Alton Jones Campus in West Greenwich.

    The university offers bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees in 80 undergraduate and 49 graduate areas of study through eight academic colleges. These colleges include Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education and Professional Studies, Engineering, Health Sciences, Environment and Life Sciences, Nursing and Pharmacy. Another college, University College for Academic Success, serves primarily as an advising college for all incoming undergraduates and follows them through their first two years of enrollment at URI.

    The University enrolled about 13,600 undergraduate and 3,000 graduate students in Fall 2015.[2] U.S. News & World Report classifies URI as a tier 1 national university, ranking it tied for 161st in the U.S.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:42 pm on February 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Women in STEM   

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope: Women in STEM- “Hubblecast 116: Henrietta Leavitt — ahead of her time” 

    NASA Hubble Banner

    NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    From NASA/ESA Hubble Telescope

    Hubblecast 116: Henrietta Leavitt — ahead of her time

    Born in 1868, Henrietta Leavitt was an astronomer ahead of her time, whose work helped to revolutionise our understanding of the Universe. While working at Harvard Observatory, she began to study stars of fluctuating brightness. She made a crucial observation about these objects, which gave astronomers a new way to measure distances, ultimately leading to such impactful discoveries as the expansion of the Universe.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), is a free-standing science center, located on the campus of The Johns Hopkins University and operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for NASA, conducts Hubble science operations.

    ESA50 Logo large

    AURA Icon

     
  • richardmitnick 12:19 pm on February 15, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Cepheid variables (a kind of star that is used as a means to determine the distance from the galaxy in several spiral nebulae including the Andromeda Nebula and Triangulum), , , Henrietta Swan Leavitt was one of many women "computers" who worked at Harvard University cataloging stars around the turn of the last century, , Women in STEM   

    From Astronomy Magazine: Women in STEM- “Meet Henrietta Leavitt, the woman who gave us a universal ruler” 

    Astronomy magazine

    From Astronomy Magazine

    February 4, 2019
    Korey Haynes

    1
    Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868 – 1921) No image credit

    Cepheid variable stars act as signposts to help astronomers build a 3D picture of the sky. Here’s the story of the woman who unlocked these stars’ secrets.

    2
    Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s work revealed the true size of the universe. A. Fujii NASA/ESA Hubble

    Gazing up at the sky, it’s hard not to imagine the Sun, Moon, stars, and planets as part of an inverted bowl over our heads, even if we know that’s an antiquated way of viewing the heavens. These days, we understand it’s Earth that’s spinning daily like a ballerina, while also circling the Sun on its yearly journey. But the bowl imagery was and remains a reasonable way of envisioning how the skies appear to revolve around us, and why certain stars appear or disappear with the changing hour or season.

    But to understand the universe as it really is, we need a three-dimensional picture of the skies. The Copernican revolution started this change in perspective, but it took until the 20th century for a true understanding of the universe’s scale and layout to evolve. The researcher who provided one of the biggest keys was a deaf woman who earned 30 cents an hour.

    Changing Stars Unlock a Map

    3
    Leavitt’s work on variable stars allowed Edwin Hubble to deduce the distance to the Andromeda galaxy.

    Using the Hooker Telescope at Mt. Wilson, Hubble identified Cepheid variables (a kind of star that is used as a means to determine the distance from the galaxy in several spiral nebulae, including the Andromeda Nebula and Triangulum).

    Andromeda Nebula Clean by Rah2005 on DeviantArt

    The Triangulum Galaxy via The VLT Survey Telescope (VST) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. This beautifully detailed image of the galaxy Messier 33. This nearby spiral, the second closest large galaxy to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is packed with bright star clusters, and clouds of gas and dust. This picture is amongst the most detailed wide-field views of this object ever taken and shows the many glowing red gas clouds in the spiral arms with particular clarity.

    His observations, made in 1924, proved conclusively that these nebulae were much too distant to be part of the Milky Way and were, in fact, entire galaxies outside our own, suspected by researchers at least as early as 1755 when Immanuel Kant’s General History of Nature and Theory of the Heavens appeared.

    Edwin Hubble at Caltech Palomar Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope, (credit: Emilio Segre Visual Archives/AIP/SPL)

    Edwin Hubble looking through a 100-inch Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson in Southern California

    Mt Wilson 100 inch Hooker Telescope Interior

    Mt Wilson 100 inch Hooker Telescope, perched atop the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles, CA, USA, Mount Wilson, California, US, Altitude 1,742 m (5,715 ft)

    Henrietta Swan Leavitt was one of many women “computers” who worked at Harvard University, cataloging stars around the turn of the last century. Women could be paid less than men, and were generally seen as detail-oriented and suited for the often boring and rote work of data analysis. They were also barred from operating Harvard’s telescopes, limiting their other astronomical options. Leavitt’s particular assignment was Cepheid variable stars. These stars change how bright they are from day to day or week to week. And she noticed that, in general, the brighter stars had longer periods – the brighter the star, the longer it took to cycle through its variability.

    At first, this was nothing more than a curiosity. It didn’t mean anything to anyone. But Leavitt made it very meaningful with her follow-up work. She looked at a sample of variable stars that were all near the same location, in the Small Magellanic Cloud.

    Small Magellanic Cloud. NASA/ESA Hubble and ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2

    This is a tiny dwarf galaxy very near to our own Milky Way. Here, with a smaller sample, her trend was even clearer. Brighter stars had longer periods.

    Leavitt realized something very important here, though it’s not clear many others did at the time. Because the stars in her second study were all in the same place, they were all essentially the same distance from Earth. So her discovery was telling her something intrinsic to the stars themselves: the longer a star took to change brightness, the brighter it actually was. So, if another star took a long time to change brightness but didn’t appear brighter, then she concluded it must be farther away, thus dimming its true brightness. With this simple relationship, Leavitt turned a two-dimensional picture of the sky into a 3D one.

    Finishing the Scale

    Leavitt herself pointed out that someone merely needed to work out the parallax (a way of calculating distance that works only on very nearby stars) of a tiny handful of her variable stars to calibrate the system, and turn her rough picture of “near or far” into an accurate map complete with marked distances. Within a year, another astronomer named Ejnar Hertzsprung had done so.

    Perhaps Leavitt was a few years too early for her brilliant observation. Perhaps it was overlooked because she was a woman, and not allowed the status of a full researcher (though her name is on her own published work). Whatever the cause, this observation sat quietly for over a decade, until after Leavitt had suffered an early death due to cancer. It was only then that Edwin Hubble used her work to show how large the universe was, and that many of the fuzzy “nebulae” astronomers had observed for so long were actually far more distant than the stars in the Milky Way, and were in fact entire galaxies themselves.

    Leavitt never earned fame in her own lifetime, nor a fancy telescope namesake afterward. But when looking up at the night skies, it’s worth remembering that she is part of the reason we have a three-dimensional map of the skies, instead of the flat picture that sustained humans for so much of our history.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 11:40 am on January 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Anna Frebel, , , , , HE 1327-2326, HE 1523-0901 a red giant star in the Milky Way galaxy, low “metallicity Second-generation stars identified giving clues about their predecessors, , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: Women in STEM-“Anna Frebel is searching the stars for clues to the universe’s origins” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    January 1, 2019
    Jennifer Chu

    1
    Anna Frebel. Image: Bryce Vickmark

    MIT astronomer and writer investigates ancient starlight and shares her excitement about the cosmos.

    In August 2002, Anna Frebel pressed pause on her undergraduate physics studies in Germany and spent her entire life savings on a plane ticket to take her halfway around the world, to a mountaintop observatory just outside Canberra, Australia.

    She spent the next five months volunteering at the Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, where astronomers had regular access to a set of world-class telescopes set atop Mount Stromlo.

    On Jan. 18, 2003, brushfires that had been burning for weeks in the surrounding forest suddenly advanced toward Canberra, whipped up by a dry, scorching wind.

    “The fire front just swept in, and it marched at about six to seven miles an hour, and it just rode right into the city. The observatory was the first to fall,” recalls Frebel, who watched the calamity from the opposite end of Canberra.

    The fires obliterated the observatory’s historic telescopes, along with several administrative buildings and even some homes of researchers living on the mountainside.

    “It was a pretty big shock,” Frebel says. “But tragedy also brings out community, and we were all helping each other, and it really bonded us together.”

    As the campus set to work clearing the ash and rebuilding the facility, Frebel decided to extend her initially one-year visit to Australia — a decision that turned out to be career-making.

    “I wasn’t going to be deterred by a burned-down observatory,” says Frebel, who was granted a tenure position this year in MIT’s Department of Physics.

    Frebel’s star

    Soon after the fires subsided, Frebel accepted an offer by the Australian National University to pursue a PhD in astronomy. She chose to focus her studies on a then-fledgling field: the search for the universe’s oldest stars.

    It’s believed that, immediately after the Big Bang exploded the universe into existence, clouds of hydrogen, helium, and lithium coalesced to form the very first generation of stars. These incredibly massive stellar pioneers grew out of control and quickly burned out as supernovas.

    To sustain their enormous luminosities, atoms of hydrogen and helium smashed together to create heavier elements in their cores, considered to be the universe’s first “metals” — a term in astronomy used to describe all elements that are heavier than hydrogen and helium. These metals in turn forged the second generation of stars, which researchers believe formed just half a billion years after the Big Bang.

    Since then, many stellar generations have populated the night sky, containing ever more abundant metals. Astronomers suspect, however, that those early, second-generation stars can still be found in some pockets of the universe, and possibly even in our own Milky Way.

    Frebel set out to find these oldest stars, also known as “metal-poor” stars. One of her first discoveries was HE 1327-2326, which contained the smallest amount of iron ever known, estimated at about 1/400,000 that of the Earth’s sun. Given this extremely low “metallicity,” the star was likely a second-generation star, born very shortly after the Big Bang. Until 2014, Frebel’s star remained the record-holder for the most metal-poor star ever discovered.

    The results were published in 2005 in Nature, with Frebel, then just two years into her PhD, as lead author.

    A star turn

    Frebel went on to work as a postdoc at the University of Texas at Austin, and later the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she continued to make remarkable insights into the early universe. Most notably, in 2007, she discovered HE 1523-0901, a red giant star in the Milky Way galaxy. Frebel estimated the star to be about 13.2 billion years old — among the oldest stars ever discovered and nearly as old as the universe itself.

    In 2010, she unearthed a similarly primitive star in a nearby galaxy, that appeared to have the exact same metallic content as some of the old stars she had observed in the outskirts of our own Milky Way. This seemed to suggest, for the first time, that young galaxies like the Milky Way may “cannibalize” nearby, older galaxies, taking in their ancient stars as their own.

    “A lot more detail has come to light in the last 10 years or so, and now we’re asking questions like, not just whether these objects are out there, but exactly where did they form, and how,” Frebel says. “So the puzzle is filling in.”

    In 2012, she accepted an offer to join the physics faculty at MIT, where she continues to assemble the pieces to the early universe’s history. Much of her research is focused on analyzing stellar observations taken by the twin Magellan telescopes at the Las Campanas Observatory, in Chile.

    Carnegie 6.5 meter Magellan Baade and Clay Telescopes located at Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory, Chile. over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    Frebel’s group makes the long trek to the observatory about three times per year to collect light from stars in the Milky Way and small satellite dwarf galaxies.

    Once they arrive at the mountaintop observatory, the astronomers adapt to a night owl’s schedule, sleeping through the day and rising close to dinner time. Then, they grab a quick bite at the observatory’s lodge before heading up the mountainside to one of the two telescopes, where they remain into the early morning hours, collecting streams of photons from various stars of interest.

    On nights when bad weather makes data collection impossible, Frebel reviews her data or she writes — about the solitary, sleep-deprived experience of observatory work; the broader search for the universe’s oldest stars; and most recently, about an overlooked scientific heroine in nuclear physics.

    Engaging with the public

    In addition to her academic work, Frebel makes a point of reaching out to a broader audience, to share her excitement in the cosmos. In one of many essays that she’s penned for such popular magazines as Scientific American, she describes the satisfied weariness following a long night’s work:

    “Already I am imagining myself drawing the thick, sun-proof shades on my window and resting my head against my pillow. The morning twilight cloaks the stars overhead, but I know they are there — burning as they have for billions of years.”

    In 2015, she published her first book, Searching for the Oldest Stars: Ancient Relics from the Early Universe. And just last year, she wrote and performed a 12-minute play about the life and accomplishments of Lise Meitner, an Austrian-Swedish physicist who was instrumental in discovering nuclear fission. Meitner, who worked for most of her career in Berlin, Germany, fled to Sweden during the Nazi occupation. There, she and her long-time collaborator Otto Hahn found evidence of nuclear fission. But it was Hahn who ultimately received the Nobel Prize for the discovery.

    “Scientifically, [Meitner] is absolutely in line with Marie Curie, but she was never recognized appropriately for her work,” Frebel says. “She should be a household name, but she isn’t. So I find it very important to help rectify that.”

    Frebel has given a handful of performances of the play, during which she appears in the first half, dressed in costume as Meitner. In the second half, she appears as herself, explaining to the audience how Meitner’s revelations influence astronomers’ work today.

    Getting into character is nothing new for Frebel, who, as a high school student in Gottingen, Germany, took on multiple roles in the school plays. She also took part in what she calls the “subculture of figure-rollerskating” — a competitive sport that is analogous to figure-skating, only on roller skates. During that formative time, Frebel partly credits her mother for turning her focus to science and to the women who advanced their fields.

    “When I was a teenager, my mom gave me a lot of biographies of women scientists and other notable women, and I still have a little book of Lise Meitner from when I was around 13,” Frebel says. “So I have been very familiar with her, and I do work basically on the topic that she was interested in. So I’m one of her scientific daughters.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    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 1:41 pm on December 7, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 36000 worms were aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 and 3600 were from Rutgers, Monica Driscoll, , School of Arts and Sciences-Molecular biology and Biochemistry, Studying the muscle deterioration that occurs during prolonged space flight, Women in STEM   

    From Rutgers University: Women in STEM- “Rutgers Scientist Sends Worms into Outer Space” Monica Driscoll 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    12.7.18

    Monica Driscoll and team studying muscle deterioration.

    1
    Monica Driscoll with her team, Girish Harinat and Ricardo Laranjeiro at Cape Canaveral

    When the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Wednesday, some 36,000 worms were aboard.

    And about 3,600 of those creatures were sent by Monica Driscoll, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. Driscoll is part of an international team of scientists studying the muscle deterioration that occurs during prolonged space flight – and whether it can be overcome for extended stints at the International Space Station or long trips to Mars.

    “In the absence of gravity, muscle deteriorates very rapidly,” Driscoll says. “We will need to stop that if humans are to make the six month trip to Mars.”

    The Molecular Muscle group, including scientists from the U.K., Japan, Korea, Greece and U.S., will look at changes that occur in muscle and neurons, candidate drugs that should help maintain muscle mass, and the relationship of degradation to accelerated aging.

    Driscoll’s team includes, Girish Harinat, a Rutgers graduate who majored in cell biology and neuroscience, and Ricardo Laranjeiro, a post-doctoral associate in the molecular biology and biochemistry department.

    “Our particular interest is in the neurons that influence muscle health,” says Driscoll, who along with her team, was on hand for the launch. “We are sending up middle-aged worms with labeled neurons and will examine what happens at the structure level.”

    The C. elegans worms used by Driscoll and her team are ideal for the study, she said.

    “The animal is transparent, so we can look through the skin to see each neuron in the body in its native context,” she says. “The worm lives only three weeks, so we can effectively track what happens to neurons during its adult life, mimicking what might be a long stint for a person on Mars.”

    The SpaceX capsule will dock at the International Space Station, where the worms will live for five or six days before they are frozen and returned to Earth, Driscoll says.

    “At which point we will get to work on checking them out,” she added.

    Earthbound patients with muscle degeneration may also benefit from the findings.

    “We can test strategies for muscle and nerve maintenance solutions that might well translate to humans,” Driscoll said. “Although a focus here is on space, no one can ignore the tremendous spin-off discoveries from previous space efforts that improve life here on Earth.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 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.

    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 10:01 am on November 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Sarah Stewart, Synestia, The Woman Who Reinvented the Moon, Women in STEM   

    From Nautilus: Women in STEM- “The Woman Who Reinvented the Moon” Sarah Stewart 

    Nautilus

    From Nautilus

    November 8, 2018
    Brian Gallagher

    Sarah Stewart is living her ideal life—and it just got sweeter. The University of California, Davis planetary physicist recently won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, famously and unofficially known as the “genius grant,” for her work on the origin of Earth’s moon, upending a decades-old theory. She’s been awarded $625,000.

    “It’s an amazing concept to just say, ‘We’re going to give you the opportunity to do something, and we’re not going to tell you anything about what to do.’ That’s very unusual and freeing,” she told Nautilus, referring to the grant program. She was particularly thrilled by the recognition the award represents. The foundation speaks to several dozen of a candidate’s peers as a part of its vetting process. “What I really feel is appreciation for my colleagues,” she said. “That really touches me.”

    Nautilus spoke to Stewart during World Space Week, the theme of which, this year, is “Space Unites the World.” It compelled her to pen a poem, using the theme as a title. Nautilus asked Stewart about that, as well as how her laboratory experiments, which replicate the pressures and temperatures of planetary collisions, informed her model of the moon’s birth.

    1
    Sarah Stewart. John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

    How can space bring us together?

    This World Space Week is happening at a time where the world seems to be highlighting divisions. And so I wrote what I wrote as a response to that. Space exploration and discovery of things that are surprising and new is a way to bring everyone together, and enjoy the profound beauty of nature. And I would like us to spend more time talking about the things that bring us together.

    Like the moon. Give us a brief history of its origin theories.

    Next year, 2019, is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing. The rock samples that the Apollo missions brought back basically threw out every previous idea for the origin of the moon. Before the Apollo results were in, a Russian astronomer named Viktor Safronov had been developing models of how planets grow. He found that they grow into these sub- or proto-planet-size bodies that would then collide. A couple of different groups then independently proposed that a giant impact made a disc around the Earth that the moon accreted from. Over the past 50 years, that model became quantitative, predictive. Simulations showed that the moon should be made primarily out of the object that struck the proto-Earth. But the Apollo mission found that the moon is practically a twin of the Earth, particularly its mantle, in major elements and in isotopic ratios: The different weight elements are like fingerprints, present in the same abundances. Every single small asteroid and planet in the solar system has a different fingerprint, except the Earth and the moon. So the giant impact hypothesis was wrong. It’s a lesson in how science works—the giant impact hypothesis hung on for so long because there was no alternative model that hadn’t already been disproven.

    How is your proposal for the moon’s birth different?

    We changed the giant impact. And by changing it we specifically removed one of the original constraints. The original giant impact was proposed to set the length of day of the Earth, because angular momentum—the rotational equivalent of linear momentum—is a physical quantity that is conserved: If we go backward in time, the moon comes closer to the Earth. At the time the moon grew, the Earth would have been spinning with a five-hour day. So all of the giant impact models were tuned to give us a five-hour day for the Earth right after the giant impact. What we did was say, “Well, what if there were a way to change the angular momentum after the moon formed?” That would have to be through a dynamical interaction with the sun. What that means is that we could start the Earth spinning much faster—we were exploring models where the Earth had a two- to three-hour day after the giant impact.

    What did a faster-spinning Earth do to your models?

    The surprising new thing is that when the Earth is hot, vaporized, and spinning quickly, it isn’t a planet anymore. There’s a boundary beyond which all of the Earth material cannot physically stay in an object that rotates altogether—we call that the co-rotation limit. A body that exceeds the co-rotation limit forms a new object that we named a synestia, a Greek-derived word that is meant to represent a connected structure. A synestia is a different object than a planet plus a disc. It has different internal dynamics. In this hot vaporized state, the hot gas in the disc can’t fall onto the planet, because the planet has an atmosphere that’s pushing that gas out. What ends up happening is that the rock vapor that forms a synestia cools by radiating to space, forms magma rain in the outer parts of the synestia, and that magma rain accretes to form the moon within the rock vapor that later cools to become the Earth.

    How did the idea of a synestia come about?

    In 2012, Matija Ćuk and I published a paper that was a high-spin model for the origin of the moon. We changed the impact event, but we didn’t realize that after the impact, things were completely different. It just wasn’t anything we ever extracted from the simulations. It wasn’t until two years later when my student Simon Lock and I were looking at different plots, plots we had never made before out of the same simulations, that we realized that we had been interpreting what happened next incorrectly. There was a bonafide eureka moment where we’re sitting together talking about how the disc would evolve around the Earth after the impact, and realizing that it wasn’t a standard disc. These synestias have probably been sitting in people’s computer systems for quite some time without anyone ever actually identifying them as something different.

    Was the size of the synestia beyond the moon’s current orbit?

    It could have been bigger. Exactly how big it was depends on the energy of the event and how fast it was spinning. We don’t have precise constraints on that to make the moon because a range of synestias could make the moon.

    How long was the Earth in a synestia state?

    The synestia was very large, but it didn’t last very long. Because rock vapor is very hot, and where we are in the solar system is far enough away from the sun that our mean temperature is cooler than rock vapor, the synestia cooled very quickly. So it could last 1,000 years or so before looking like a normal planet again. Exactly how long it lasts depends on what else is happening in the solar system around the Earth. In order to be a long lived object it would need to be very close to the star.

    What was the size of the object that struck proto-Earth?

    We can’t tell, because a variety of mass ratios, impact angles, impact velocities can make a synestia that has enough mass and angular momentum in it to make our moon. I don’t know that we will ever know for sure exactly what hit us. There may be ways for us to constrain the possibilities. One way to do that is to look deep in the Earth for clues about how large the event could have been. There are chemical tracers from the deep mantle that indicate that the Earth wasn’t completely melted and mixed, even by the moon-forming event. Those reach the surface through what are called ocean island basalts, sometimes called mantle plumes, from near the core-mantle boundary, up through the whole mantle to the surface. It could be that that could be used as a constraint on being too big. Because the Earth and the moon are very similar in the mantles of the two bodies, that can be used to determine what is too small of an event. That would give us a range that can probably be satisfied by a number of different impact configurations.

    How much energy does it take to form a synestia?

    Giant impacts are tremendously energetic events. The energy of the event, in terms of the kinetic energy of the impact, is released over hours. The power involved is similar to the power, or luminosity, of the sun. We really cannot think of the Earth as looking anything like the Earth when you’ve just dumped the energy of the sun into this planet.

    How common are synestias?

    We actually think that synestias should happen quite frequently during rocky planet formation. We haven’t looked at the gas giant planets. There are some different physics that happen with those. But for growing rocky bodies like the Earth, we attempted to estimate the statistics of how often there should be synestias. And for Earth-mass bodies anywhere in the universe probably, the body is a synestia at least once while it’s growing. The likelihood of making a synestia goes up as the bodies become larger. Super-Earths also should have been a synestia at some point.

    You say that all of the pressures and temperatures reached during planet formation are now accessible in the laboratory. First, give us a sense of the magnitude of those pressures and temperatures, and then tell us how accessing them in labs is possible.

    The center of the Earth is at several thousand degrees, and has hundreds of gigapascals of pressure—about 3 million times more pressure than the surface. Jupiter’s center is even hotter. The center-of-Jupiter pressures can be reached temporarily during a giant impact, as the bodies are colliding together. A giant impact and the center of Jupiter are about the limits of the pressures and temperatures reached during planet formation: so tens of thousands of degrees, and a million times the pressure of the Earth. To replicate that, we need to dump energy into our rock or mineral very quickly in order to generate a shockwave that reaches these amplitudes in pressure and temperature. We use major minerals in the Earth, or rocky planets—so we’ve studied iron, quartz, forsterite, enstatite, and different alloy compositions of those. Other people have studied the hydrogen helium mixture for Jupiter, and ices for Uranus and Neptune. In my lab we have light gas guns, essentially cannons. And, using compressed hydrogen, we can launch a metal flyer plate—literally a thin disk—to almost 8 kilometers per second. We can reach the core pressures in the Earth, but I can’t reach the range of giant impacts or the center of Jupiter in my lab. But the Sandia Z machine, which is a big capacitor that launches metal plates using a magnetic force, can reach 40 kilometers per second. And with the National Ignition Facility laser at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, we can reach the pressures at the center of Jupiter.

    Sandia Z machine

    National Ignition Facility at LLNL

    What happens to the flyer plates when they’re shot?

    The target simply gets turned to dust after being vaporized and then cooling again. They’re very destructive experiments. You have to make real time measurements—of the wave itself and how fast it’s traveling—within tens of nanoseconds. That we can translate to pressure. My group has spent a lot of time developing ways to measure temperature, and to find phase boundaries. The work that led to the origin of the moon was specifically studying what it takes to vaporize Earth materials, and to determine the boiling points of rocks. We needed to know when it would be vaporized in order to calculate when something would become a synestia.

    How do you use your experimental results?

    What runs in our code is a simplified version of a planet. With our experiments we can simulate a simplified planet to infer the more complicated chemical system. Once we’ve determined the pressure-temperature of the average system, you can ask more detailed questions about the multi-component chemistry of a real planet. In the moon paper that was published this year, there’s two big sections. One that does the simplified modeling of the giant impact—it gives us the pressure-temperature range in the synestia. Then another that looks at the chemistry of the system that starts at these high pressures and temperatures and cools, but now using a more realistic model for the Earth.

    What was it like to get a call from the MacArthur Foundation?

    It did come out of the blue. They called me in my office, and I answered the phone. There were three people on the other end, and they said they were from the MacArthur Foundation. I knew what it was, and I stopped listening, because it was such a nice surprise. To me it probably is just unreal at the moment, meaning it will probably take some time to really sink in.

    How did you come to study planetary physics?

    I had enjoyed science fiction, not thinking I was going to be a scientist. But while I was in high school I had phenomenal math and physics teachers. That really grabbed my interest, so when I went to college I wanted to be a physics major. I quickly learned that the astronomers very much welcomed undergraduate researchers because the work was very accessible to someone with undergraduate skills. I met amazing scientists, and that sparked a whole career.

    What would you be doing if you weren’t a scientist?

    That’s hard. Because it has been my ideal for a very long time. In college I did a lot of theater. More theater than homework. The best theatrical experience I had was directing Sweeney Todd. It was absolutely amazing. So I did watch with some envy as some of my friends pursued a theatrical life. That is something that you can be wistful about, except that that would have been a hard path.

    NASA is celebrating its 60th anniversary. What does that mean to you as a scientist studying space?

    It feels like we’ve learned so much over 60 years, because we’ve had our first visits to everything in the solar system now. But at the same time, we’re completely surprised every time we arrive at a new object. So in some ways we’re still in the youthful period in planetary science, where we’re trying to work out basic knowledge. That’s a very exciting time. We’re still on a very big growth curve.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Welcome to Nautilus. We are delighted you joined us. We are here to tell you about science and its endless connections to our lives. Each month we choose a single topic. And each Thursday we publish a new chapter on that topic online. Each issue combines the sciences, culture and philosophy into a single story told by the world’s leading thinkers and writers. We follow the story wherever it leads us. Read our essays, investigative reports, and blogs. Fiction, too. Take in our games, videos, and graphic stories. Stop in for a minute, or an hour. Nautilus lets science spill over its usual borders. We are science, connected.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: