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  • richardmitnick 3:25 pm on September 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Dispatches from Planet 3", Book explores milestones of astronomical discovery, Marcia Bartusiak, , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: Women in STEM- “Book explores milestones of astronomical discovery” Marcia Bartusiak 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    September 18, 2018
    Peter Dizikes

    Marcia Bartusiak and her new book, Dispatches from Planet 3

    In Dispatches from Planet 3, Marcia Bartusiak illuminates overlooked breakthroughs and the people who made them.

    Here’s quick rule of thumb about the universe: Everything old is new again.

    Those materials being used when new stars or planets form are just recycled cosmic matter, after all. But also, even our latest scientific discoveries may not be as new as they seem.

    That’s one insight from Marcia Bartusiak’s new book, “Dispatches from Planet 3,” published by Yale University Press, a tour of major discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics that digs into the history behind these breakthroughs.

    “No discovery comes out of the blue,” says Bartusiak, professor of the practice in MIT’s Graduate Program in Science Writing. “Sometimes it takes decades of preparation for [discoveries] to be built, one brick at a time.”

    The book, drawn from her columns in Natural History, underscores that point by highlighting unheralded scientists whose work influenced later discoveries.

    Moreover, as Bartusiak observes in the book, recent scientific debates often echo older arguments. Take the kerfuffle last decade about whether or not Pluto should be regarded as a proper planet in our solar system. As Bartusiak recounts in the book, the same thing happened multiple times in the 19th century, when objects called Ceres, Vesta, and Juno first gained and then lost membership in the club of planets.

    “Ceres in the 19th century was a certified planet, along with Vesta and Juno, the big asteroids, until they got demoted into the general asteroid belt,” Bartusiak says. “Then the same thing happened again, and everyone said, ‘Poor Pluto, it’s not a planet any more.’ Well, I’m sure in the 19th century there were people going ‘Poor Ceres, it’s not a planet.’ We’ll get over it.”

    (Demoting Pluto, by the way, is a judgment Bartusiak is comfortable with: “They made the right decision. Pluto is a dwarf planet. It’s part of the Kuiper Belt. I’m sure I’ll get a lot of people mad with me, [but] it makes sense to have Pluto in that group, rather than … with the big terrestrial planets and the gas giants.” [There is a move afoot to restore Pluto as a planet. In a study of over 1000 documents only one required that to be a planet the body must clear out is orbit, and that is the thing that got Pluto kicked out.])

    One astronomer who made a crucial Pluto-related discovery was Jane X. Luu, who helped locate asteroids orbiting the sun from even farther away. Luu is just one of many women in “Dispatches from Planet 3” — although, Bartusiak says, that was not by design, but simply a consequence of hunting for the origins of important advances.

    “I did not have an agenda for this book,” Bartusiak says. “I have always been the type of writer that wanted to follow my nose on what the most interesting findings, discoveries, and theories were, without worrying about who was doing them.”

    But as it happens, many stories about the development of scientific knowledge involve accomplished female scientists who did not immediately become household names.

    Consider the astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who in the 1920s, Bartusiak notes, “first knew that hydrogen is the major element of the universe. A major discovery! This is the fuel for stars. It was central to astronomical studies. And yet, the greatest astronomer of the time, Henry Norris Russell, made her take [the idea] out of her thesis before they would accept it at Harvard.”

    Bartusiak’s book also recounts the career of Beatrice Tinsley, an astrophysicist who in the 1970s developed important work about the ways galaxies change over time, before she died in her early 40s.

    “Who really started thinking about galaxy evolution?” Bartusiak asks. “Beatrice Tinsley, ignored when she first started doing this, [produced] one of the most accomplished PhD theses in astronomical history. She was the first to really take it seriously.”

    The notion that galaxies evolve, Bartusiak’s book reminds us, is a relatively recent concept, running counter to ages of conventional wisdom.

    “People thought of the universe as being serene [and that] every galaxy was like the Milky Way,” Bartusiak says. “And that was based on what they could see.” Deep in the postwar era, our empirical knowledge expanded, and so did our conception of galactic-scale activity.

    In fairness, the Milky Way is pretty placid at the moment.

    Milky Way NASA/JPL-Caltech /ESO R. Hurt

    “It will get active again when we collide with Andromeda, 4 billion years from now,” Bartusiak says.

    Andromeda Galaxy NASA/ESA Hubble

    NAOJ Milky Way merger with Andromeda

    “We’re lucky we’re not in the galactic center or in a very active star cluster [I think this is off.Even in a “crowded gluster stars are millions of miles apart.]. You have stars blowing up, and it probably would be hard for life to start if you were in an area where X-rays were raining down on you, or if a supernova was going off nearby. We’re off in a little spur in a very quiet part of the Milky Way galaxy, which has enabled life on Earth here to evolve and flourish without a cosmic incident raining havoc down upon us.”

    Bartusiak closes the book with chapters on black holes, the idea of the multiverse, and our problems in conceptualizing what it means to think that the universe had a beginning.

    “We think that black holes and gravitational waves are strange, but there may stranger things to come,” Barytusiak says. “As I say in a chapter with [Harvard theoretical physicist] Lisa Randall, experimenters and theorists used to work in tandem … and now the theorists have moved so far from observations that it’s a little frightening. There’s a need for new instrumentation, the new James Webb telescopes, the new particle accelerators.”

    Which ultimately brings Bartusiak to another part of science that definitely has precedent: the need for funding to support research.

    “The bigger the instrument, the further out you can see, or the further down into spacetime you can see, so I want people to realize that if you want these stories to continue, you’re going to need a further investment,” Bartusiak says. “But that’s what makes us a civilization. That we can take at least some of our wealth and use it to expand our knowledge about where we live. And that includes the universe, not just the Earth.”

    [Strange, no citation of Vera Rubin,

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965. (The Carnegie Institution for Science)

    Fritz Zwicky,

    Fritz Zwicky, the Father of Dark Matter research.No image credit after long search

    or Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Susan Jocelyn Bell [maiden name], discovered pulsars with radio astronomy

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell 2009

    I hope they made it into the book.

    See the full article here .

    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 7:30 am on September 18, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3Q: Sheila Widnall on sexual harassment in STEM, , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: “3Q: Sheila Widnall on sexual harassment in STEM” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    September 17, 2018
    David L. Chandler

    Sheila Widnall, MIT Institute Professor and former secretary of the U.S. Air Force. Image: Len Rubenstein

    National Academies report cites need for strong leadership and cultural change; will be focus of upcoming MIT panel discussion.

    Sheila Widnall, MIT Institute Professor and former secretary of the U.S. Air Force, was co-chair of a report commissioned by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to explore the impact of sexual harassment of women in those fields. Along with co-chair Paula Johnson, president of Wellesley College, Widnall and dozens of panel members and researchers spent two years collecting and analyzing data for the report, which was released over the summer. On Sept. 18, Widnall, Johnson, and Brandeis University Professor Anita Hill will offer their thoughts on the report’s findings and recommendations, in a discussion at MIT’s Huntington Hall, Room 10-250. Widnall spoke with MIT News about some of the report’s key takeaways.

    Q: As a woman who has been working in academia for many years, did you find anything in the results of this report that surprised you, anything that was unexpected?

    A: Well, not unexpected, but the National Academy reports have to be based on data, and so our committee was composed of scientists, engineers, and social scientists, who have somewhat different ways of looking at problems. One of the challenges was to bring the committee together to agree on a common result. We couldn’t just make up things; we had to get data. So, we had some fundamental data from various universities that were taken by a recognized survey platform, and that was the foundation of our data.

    We had data for thousands and thousands of faculty and students. We did not look at student-on-student behavior, which we felt was not really part of our charge. We were looking at the structure of academic institutions and the environment that’s created in the university. We also looked at the relationship between faculty, who hold considerable authority over the climate, and the futures of students, which can be influenced by faculty through activities such as thesis advising, and letter writing, and helping people find the next rung in their career.

    At the end of the report, after we’d accumulated all this data and our conclusions about it, we said, “OK, what’s the solution?” And the solution is leadership. There is no other way to get started in some of these very difficult climate issues than leadership. Presidents, provosts, deans, department heads, faculty — these are the leaders at a university, and they are essential for dealing with these issues. We can’t make little recommendations to do this or do that. It really boils down to leadership.

    Q: What are some of the specific recommendations or programs that the report committee would like to see adopted?

    A: We found many productive actions taken by universities, including climate surveys, and our committee was particularly pleased with ombudsman programs — having a way that individuals can go to people and discuss issues and get help. I think MIT has been a leader in that; I’m not sure all universities have those. And another recommendation — I hate to use the word training, because faculty hate the word training — but MIT has put in place some things that faculty have to work through in terms of training, mainly to understand the definitions of what these various terms mean, in terms of the legal structure, the climate structure. The bottom line is you want to create a civil and welcoming climate where people feel free to express any concerns that they have.

    One of the things we did, since we were data-driven, was that we tried to collect examples of processes and programs that have been put in place by other societies, and put them forward as examples.

    We found various professional societies that are very aware of things that can happen offsite, so they have instituted special policies or even procedures for making sure that a meeting is a safe and welcoming environment for people who come across the country to go to a professional meeting. There are several examples of that in the report, of societies that have really stepped forward and put in place procedures and principles about “this is how you should behave at a meeting.” So I think that’s very welcome.

    Q: One of the interesting findings of the report was that gender harassment — stereotyping what people can or can’t do based on their gender — was especially pervasive. What are some of the impacts of that kind of behavior?

    A: A hostile work environment is caused by the uncivility of the climate. All the little microinsults, things like telling women they can’t solder or that women don’t belong in science or engineering. I think that’s really an important point in our report. Gender discrimination is most pervasive, and many people don’t think it’s wrong; they just don’t give it a second thought.

    If you have a climate where people feel that they can get away with that kind of behavior, then it’s more likely to happen. If you have an environment where people are expected to be polite — is that an old-fashioned word? — or civil, people act respectfully.

    It’s pretty clear that physical assault is unacceptable. So we didn’t deal a lot with that issue. It’s certainly a very serious kind of harassment. But we did try to focus on this less obvious form and the responsibilities of universities to create a safe and welcoming climate. I think MIT does a really good job of that.

    I think the numbers have helped to improve the climate. You know, when I came to MIT women were 1 percent of the undergraduate student body. Now it’s 46 percent, so clearly, times have changed.

    When I came here as a freshman, my freshman advisor said, “What are you doing here?” That wasn’t exactly welcoming. He looked at me as if I didn’t belong here. And I don’t think that’s the case anymore, not with such a high percentage of undergraduates being women. I think increasingly, people do feel that women are an inherent part of the field of engineering, in the field of science, in medicine.

    See the full article here .

    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 7:26 am on September 4, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Biobank, Biostatistics, , GenV, Integrated healthcare data, Karen Lamb, Women in STEM   

    From COSMOS Magazine: Women in STEM- “Superstars of STEM: Finding the trends in newborn lives” Karen Lamb. 

    Cosmos Magazine bloc

    From COSMOS Magazine

    04 September 2018
    Dion Pretorius

    Biostatistician Karen Lamb. Credit STA

    The world is on the cusp of a digital health transformation, and integrated healthcare data is already enhancing the way people access care, tackle disease and respond to treatments.

    New technology is allowing healthcare professionals to begin personalising medicines, as well as informing much more sophisticated research. As a result, we are beginning to better understand how and why people respond differently to the same treatment or drug.

    But there is the potential to do so much more.

    Karen Lamb is a senior team member at GenV (Generation Victoria), a project led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in the Australian city of Melbourne.

    GenV plans to approach all babies born in the state of Victoria in 2020, and follow them for two years, asking their parents’ consent to take part throughout the baby’s childhood. It will put the state’s medical research at the forefront of this data revolution.

    Lamb is a biostatistician, brought in to make sure the data from this world-first project is as accessible and useful for researchers as possible.

    She says that the project is unique in the way it focusses on an entire population of newborns within a state or territory, rather than just a sample – which makes it one of the most ambitious children’s projects ever attempted.

    The team is looking to amalgamate data that is already collected and stored separately during routine check-ups, to inform future research. For interested families, they also plan to collect additional genetic information from the children and their parents.

    “Each person’s information is unique, but combine data from a large population and you can unravel valuable trends and patterns,” Lamb explains.

    “By improving, combining and unifying the data, researchers will be able to do things like identify markers for disease; trends in obesity and cardiovascular disease; devise ways to diagnose and treat allergies; and provide a foundation for better integrated health data across Victoria.”

    Melissa Wake, director of GenV, says that by 2035 the project’s mission is to have solved complex health, development and wellbeing issues for children now, and the adults they will become.

    Wake says to create a study of this scale, the team looked at examples from overseas, such as the UK Biobank, the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, and the Japan Environment and Children’s Study.

    “In the UK, their Biobank work has uncovered genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease and helped researchers to map genetic variants that increase the risk of depression,” Wake says.

    Lamb says that expertise in biostatistics has been shown to be critical in assisting in the design of studies and in developing methodologies to tackle complex health questions.

    “I can ensure that the data is protected, de-identified, and stored in a way that is easily accessible and relevant for researchers,” she says.

    “This means scientists will be spending less time collecting, cleaning and refining data sets, and more time working on treatments for some of the world’s most challenging diseases. In addition, families will know that their data are not only safe and private, but helping other children in the future.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 1:09 pm on August 30, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , In historic shift women comprise half of Cornell engineering undergrads, Women in STEM   

    From Cornell Chronicle: Women in STEM: “In historic shift, women comprise half of engineering undergrads” 

    Cornell Bloc

    From Cornell Chronicle


    August 30, 2018
    Melanie Lefkowitz

    Lydia Johnson ’17, right, and Kristopher Yoo ’16, M.Eng. ’16, work in David Schneider’s lab on a prototype for an exoskeleton system designed for physical rehabilitation.
    Robyn Wishna/Provided

    With the arrival of the Class of 2022, the College of Engineering now enrolls equal numbers of undergraduate women and men – the first engineering school of its size and stature to achieve this milestone.

    Particular gains have been made in computer science, where female students once comprised a fraction of the department. In 2017-18, women accounted for 38 percent of computer science majors, who come from both the College of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. Among this year’s incoming engineering class, 55 percent of students indicating an interest in the field are women.

    Women are not only enrolling in engineering at Cornell, they’re succeeding. In the Class of 2018, men and women had average GPAs of 3.4, and the five-year graduation rate for both female and male undergraduates was 88 percent. Following decades of underrepresentation of women in engineering fields worldwide, Cornell’s numbers represent a historic shift.


    “How could you make something like a phone or an app or a web landing page or a site without understanding half your audience?”
    Greg Morrisett, dean of Computing and Information Science

    “Something really special is happening here,” said Lance Collins, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering. “Women are going through the same rigorous training as the men and performing at exactly the same level. We’re debunking the notion that these fields are fundamentally male.”

    Achieving gender equity at the College of Engineering was decades in the making, a product of advocacy at the university’s highest levels. Resources supported Diversity Programs in Engineering, and nimble admissions practices took quick advantage of cultural shifts to encourage promising, high-performing females to consider engineering at Cornell. The student-run Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Computing at Cornell (WICC) organizations foster a welcoming and supportive community.

    Madisen Swallow ’18, works in the Chris Schaffer-Nozomi Nishimura lab, where she did research on Alzheimer’s disease. Women now comprise half of the undergraduates in the College of Engineering. Dave Burbank/University Photography

    “It’s been a tremendous change, where not just the percentage of women but the absolute number of women has grown so dramatically,” said Greg Morrisett, dean of Computing and Information Science. “These fields are better with more diverse populations. Especially if you’re building products – how could you make something like a phone or an app or a web landing page or a site without understanding half your audience?”

    The college has been making slow but steady progress since the early 2000s, but women’s admissions have accelerated in recent years. Summer workshops aimed at high school students, such as Diversity Programs in Engineering’s CURIE Academy for girls, have proven effective at reaching promising girls early and showing them what to expect at Cornell. The college’s short videos of Cornell undergraduate women describing their experiences are widely viewed, and many of the high school students who view them eventually apply, said Scott Campbell, director of engineering undergraduate admissions.

    Hannah Childs ’18, at work on an MTT assay in the lab of Professor David Putnam. Robyn Wishna/Provided

    “We’re at a place now where a critical mass of women is improving the caliber of the education for every single person here,” he said. “Engineering is about solving challenging problems. We need people from multiple life experiences coming to the table to produce elegant solutions. If you don’t have that, you likely won’t find the best solution to any engineering problem.”

    The college has invested in developing a support network. Women who have been admitted to the college are invited to Women in Engineering Day in April. Once enrolled, female students are eligible for stipends to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, the world’s largest gathering of female technologists; in 2018, 34 students received funds to attend.

    Grace Hopper

    NERSC Hopper Cray XE6 supercomputer

    SWE and WICC provide critical support services that help women succeed, such as peer mentoring, said WICC’s faculty adviser, Eva Tardos.

    “I think they’re such a positive force in making the major a more welcoming environment for everyone,” said Tardos, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science. “There are lots and lots of these activities, but beyond this, they provide a community.”

    “I’m really happy because [the stereotype of a ‘typical computer scientist’] is slowly changing, but we need to constantly make sure we’re making systematic changes in industry and academia.”
    Nandita Mohan ’20, co-president of Women in Computing at Cornell

    WICC co-president Nandita Mohan ’20 wasn’t sure she would major in computer science when she attended her first meeting.

    “The first thing I noticed was how awesome the community was. WICC was all about bringing the community together and helping them succeed, and I found I related to a lot of people there,” she said. “A lot of women struggle with lower confidence, or they struggle with trying to fit the stereotype of a ‘typical’ computer scientist. I’m really happy because that stereotype is slowly changing, but we need to constantly make sure we’re making systematic changes in industry and academia.”

    Although some other leading universities are also enrolling more women in engineering, higher education and industry generally lag far behind in diversifying their ranks. Collins said he hopes Cornell’s model can be applied in other settings to correct a persistent imbalance in gender as well as race.

    Beatrice Awasthi ‘17, M.Eng. ’18, and Jenna Chong, M.Eng. ’18, working with bacterial outer membrane vesicles in the lab of Professor David Putnam.

    Cornell Engineering is continuing to explore ways to enhance diversity and equity. The number of underrepresented minorities at the school rose to 21 percent of engineering undergraduates in fall 2018, from 7 percent in 2007. In 2018, 11 percent of computer science majors were from underrepresented minority groups.

    “There needs to be commitment at the top, and there needs to be collaboration between admissions and programming to support students,” Collins said. “It’s very easy to work in a group in which everyone is homogenous. It’s not that challenging, but it’s also not that creative. In fact, creativity originates from the collision of different ideas and different perspectives. We want to create an environment in which those collisions can occur, and in order to do that we need to have a diverse population of students.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Once called “the first American university” by educational historian Frederick Rudolph, Cornell University represents a distinctive mix of eminent scholarship and democratic ideals. Adding practical subjects to the classics and admitting qualified students regardless of nationality, race, social circumstance, gender, or religion was quite a departure when Cornell was founded in 1865.

    Today’s Cornell reflects this heritage of egalitarian excellence. It is home to the nation’s first colleges devoted to hotel administration, industrial and labor relations, and veterinary medicine. Both a private university and the land-grant institution of New York State, Cornell University is the most educationally diverse member of the Ivy League.

    On the Ithaca campus alone nearly 20,000 students representing every state and 120 countries choose from among 4,000 courses in 11 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools. Many undergraduates participate in a wide range of interdisciplinary programs, play meaningful roles in original research, and study in Cornell programs in Washington, New York City, and the world over.

  • richardmitnick 11:11 am on August 22, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Tamara Pico, The Hudson River, Women in STEM   

    From Harvard Gazette: Women in STEM -“Tracking rivers to read ancient glaciers” Tamara Pico 

    Harvard University
    Harvard University

    From Harvard Gazette

    Tamara Pico is lead author of a new study that estimates how Ice Age glaciers moved by examining how the weight of the North American ice sheet altered topography and led to changes in the course of rivers. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

    Long-ago changes along the Hudson may provide evidence of how ice sheets grew.

    In a kind of geological mystery, scientists have known for decades that a massive ice sheet stretched to cover most of Canada and much of the northeastern U.S. 25,000 years ago. What’s been trickier to pin down is how — and especially how quickly — it reached its ultimate size.

    One clue to answering that, Tamara Pico said, may involve changes to the Hudson River.

    Pico, who is a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Ph.D. student working in the group led by Jerry Mitrovica, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, is the lead author of a study that estimates how glaciers moved by examining how the weight of the ice sheet altered topography and led to changes in the river’s course. The study is described in a July paper published in Geology.

    “The Hudson River has changed course multiple times over the last million years,” Pico said. “The last time was about 30,000 years ago, just before the last glacial maximum, when it moved to the east.

    “That ancestral channel has been dated and mapped … and the way the ice sheet connects to this is: As it is growing, it’s loading the crust it’s sitting on. The Earth is like bread dough on these time scales, so as it gets depressed under the ice sheet, the region around it bulges upward. In fact, we call it the peripheral bulge. The Hudson is sitting on this bulge, and as it’s lifted up and tilted, the river can be forced to change directions.”

    To develop a system that could connect the growth of the ice sheet with changes in the Hudson’s direction, Pico began with a model for how the Earth deforms in response to various loads.

    “So we can say, if there’s an ice sheet over Canada, I can predict the land in New York City to be uplifted by X many meters,” she said. “What we did was create a number of different ice histories that show how the ice sheet might have grown, each of which predicts a certain pattern of uplift, and then we can model how the river might have evolved in response to that upwelling.”

    The result, Pico said, is a model that may for the first time be able to use the changes in natural features in the landscape to measure the growth of ice sheets.

    “This is the first time a study has used the change in a river’s direction to understand which ice history is most likely,” she said. “There’s very little data about how the ice sheet grew because as it grows it acts like a bulldozer and scrapes everything away to the edges. We have plenty of information about how the ice retreats, because it deposits debris as it melts back, but we don’t get that type of record as the ice is advancing.”

    Source: “Glacial isostatic adjustment deflects the path of the ancestral Hudson River,” T. Pico, J.X. Mitrovica, J. Braun, K.L. Ferrier

    What little data scientists do have about how the ice sheet grew, Pico said, comes from data about sea level during the period, and suggests that the ice sheet over Canada, particularly in the eastern part of the country, remained relatively small for a long period, and then suddenly began to grow quickly.

    “In a way, this study is motivated by that, because it’s asking: Can we use evidence for a change in river direction … to test whether the ice sheet grew quickly or slowly?” she said. “We can only ask that question because these areas were never covered by ice, so this record is preserved. We can use evidence in the landscape and the rivers to say something about the ice sheet, even though this area was never covered by ice.”

    While the study offers strong suggestive evidence that the technique works, Pico said there is still a great deal of work to be done to confirm that the findings are solid.

    “This is the first time this has been done, so we need to do more work to explore how the river responds to this type of uplift and understand what we should be looking for in the landscape,” she said. “But I think it’s extremely exciting because we are so limited in what we know about ice sheets before the last glacial maximum. We don’t know how fast they grew. If we don’t know that, we don’t know how stable they are.”

    Going forward, Pico said she is working to apply the technique to several other rivers along the Eastern Seaboard, including the Delaware, Potomac, and Susquehanna, all of which show signs of rapid change during the same period.

    “There is some evidence that rivers experienced very unusual changes that are no doubt related to this process,” she said. “The Delaware may have actually reversed slope, and the Potomac and Susquehanna both show a large increase in erosion in some areas, suggesting the water was moving much faster.”

    In the long run, Pico said, the study may help researchers rewrite their understanding of how quickly the landscape can change and how rivers and other natural features respond.

    “For me, this work is about trying to connect the evidence on land to the history of glaciation to show the community that this process — what we call glacial isostatic adjustment — can really impact rivers,” Pico said. “People most often think of rivers as stable features of the landscape that remain fixed over very long, million-year time scales, but we can show that these Ice Age effects can alter the landscape on millennial time scales. The ice sheet grows, the Earth deforms, and rivers respond.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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

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

  • richardmitnick 9:16 am on August 21, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Building phylogenetic trees, Chronograms, , , Geobiology, , Investigating Earth’s earliest life, Kelsey Moore, , , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: Women in STEM- “Investigating Earth’s earliest life” Kelsey Moore 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    August 18, 2018
    Fatima Husain

    Kelsey Moore. Image: Ian MacLellan

    Graduate student Kelsey Moore uses genetic and fossil evidence to study the first stages of evolution on our planet.

    In the second grade, Kelsey Moore became acquainted with geologic time. Her teachers instructed the class to unroll a giant strip of felt down a long hallway in the school. Most of the felt was solid black, but at the very end, the students caught a glimpse of red.

    That tiny red strip represented the time on Earth in which humans have lived, the teachers said. The lesson sparked Moore’s curiosity. What happened on Earth before there were humans? How could she find out?

    A little over a decade later, Moore enrolled in her first geoscience class at Smith College and discovered she now had the tools to begin to answer those very questions.

    Moore zeroed in on geobiology, the study of how the physical Earth and biosphere interact. During the first semester of her sophomore year of college, she took a class that she says “totally blew my mind.”

    “I knew I wanted to learn about Earth history. But then I took this invertebrate paleontology class and realized how much we can learn about life and how life has evolved,” Moore says. A few lectures into the semester, she mustered the courage to ask her professor, Sara Pruss in Smith’s Department of Geosciences, for a research position in the lab.

    Now a fourth-year graduate student at MIT, Moore works in the geobiology lab of Associate Professor Tanja Bosak in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences. In addition to carrying out her own research, Moore, who is also a Graduate Resident Tutor in the Simmons Hall undergraduate dorm, makes it a priority to help guide the lab’s undergraduate researchers and teach them the techniques they need to know.

    Time travel

    “We have a natural curiosity about how we got here, and how the Earth became what it is. There’s so much unknown about the early biosphere on Earth when you go back 2 billion, 3 billion, 4 billion years,” Moore says.

    Moore studies early life on Earth by focusing on ancient microbes from the Proterozoic, the period of Earth’s history that spans 2.5 billion to 542 million years ago — between the time when oxygen began to appear in the atmosphere up until the advent and proliferation of complex life. Early in her graduate studies, Moore and Bosak collaborated with Greg Fournier, the Cecil and Ida Green Assistant Professor of Geobiology, on research tracking cyanobacterial evolution. Their research is supported by the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life.

    An image of Cyanobacteria, Tolypothrix

    The question of when cyanobacteria gained the ability to perform oxygenic photosynthesis, which produces oxygen and is how many plants on Earth today get their energy, is still under debate. To track cyanobacterial evolution, MIT researchers draw from genetics and micropaleontology. Moore works on molecular clock models, which track genetic mutations over time to measure evolutionary divergence in organisms.

    Clad with a white lab coat, lab glasses, and bright purple gloves, Moore sifts through multiple cyanobacteria under a microscope to find modern analogs to ancient cyanobacterial fossils. The process can be time-consuming.

    “I do a lot of microscopy,” Moore says with a laugh. Once she’s identified an analog, Moore cultures that particular type of cyanobacteria, a process which can sometimes take months. After the strain is enriched and cultured, Moore extracts DNA from the cyanobacteria. “We sequence modern organisms to get their genomes, reconstruct them, and build phylogenetic trees,” Moore says.

    By tying information together from ancient fossils and modern analogs using molecular clocks, Moore hopes to build a chronogram — a type of phylogenetic tree with a time component that eventually traces back to when cyanobacteria evolved the ability to split water and produce oxygen.

    Moore also studies the process of fossilization, on Earth and potentially other planets. She is collaborating with researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to help them prepare for the upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission.

    “We’re trying to analyze fossils on Earth to get an idea for how we’re going to look at whatever samples get brought back from Mars, and then to also understand how we can learn from other planets and potentially other life,” Moore says.

    After MIT, Moore hopes to continue research, pursue postdoctoral fellowships, and eventually teach.

    “I really love research. So why stop? I’m going to keep going,” Moore says. She says she wants to teach in an institution that emphasizes giving research opportunities to undergraduate students.

    “Undergrads can be overlooked, but they’re really intelligent people and they’re budding scientists,” Moore says. “So being able to foster that and to see them grow and trust that they are capable in doing research, I think, is my calling.”

    Geology up close

    To study ancient organisms and find fossils, Moore has traveled across the world, to Shark Bay in Australia, Death Valley in the United States, and Bermuda.

    “In order to understand the rocks, you really have to get your nose on the rocks. Go and look at them, and be there. You have to go and stand in the tidal pools and see what’s happening — watch the air bubbles from the cyanobacteria and see them make oxygen,” Moore says. “Those kinds of things are really important in order to understand and fully wrap your brain around how important those interactions are.”

    And in the field, Moore says, researchers have to “roll with the punches.”

    “You don’t have a nice, beautiful, pristine lab set up with all the tools and equipment that you need. You just can’t account for everything,” Moore says. “You have to do what you can with the tools that you have.”


    As a Graduate Resident Tutor, Moore helps to create supporting living environments for the undergraduate residents of Simmons Hall.

    Each week, she hosts a study break in her apartment in Simmons for her cohort of students — complete with freshly baked treats. “[Baking] is really relaxing for me,” Moore says. “It’s therapeutic.”

    “I think part of the reason I love baking so much is that it’s my creative outlet,” she says. “I know that a lot of people describe baking as like chemistry. But I think you have the opportunity to be more creative and have more fun with it. The creative side of it is something that I love, that I crave outside of research.”

    Part of Moore’s determination to research, trek out in the field, and mentor undergraduates draws from her “biggest science inspiration” — her mother, Michele Moore, a physics professor at Spokane Falls Community College in Spokane, Washington.

    “She was a stay-at-home mom my entire childhood. And then when I was in middle school, she decided to go and get a college degree,” Moore says. When Moore started high school, her mother earned her bachelor’s degree in physics. Then, when Moore started college, her mother earned her PhD. “She was sort of one step ahead of me all the time, and she was a big inspiration for me and gave me the confidence to be a woman in science.”

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

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    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 8:07 am on August 19, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Dr Farah Alibay, , , When flying to Mars is your day job, Women in STEM   

    From BBC Presented by via Science Node: Women in STEM- “When flying to Mars is your day job” Dr Farah Alibay 

    Science Node bloc
    Science Node


    17 August 2018
    Mary Halton

    “As a kid… I never really thought there was a job where you worked on spacecraft.” Farah Alibay

    Sending missions to Mars for a living sounds like a dream job. But not every day can be launch day – so what do Nasa’s spacecraft engineers get up to the rest of the time?

    Dr Farah Alibay is based at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and works on the InSight mission – which lifted off to Mars in May 2018.

    NASA/Mars Insight Lander

    It aims to land on the planet in November and have a look inside – taking its internal temperature and listening for “Marsquakes” to learn more about how our nearest neighbour formed.

    Now halfway to the Red Planet and running to a Mars day rather than an Earth one, InSight is looked after by a dedicated team who regularly check in with the spacecraft on its long journey, including Dr Alibay.

    She shared a day at her job with the BBC.

    “My official title is Payload Systems Engineer.” Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    What’s a working day like for you?

    So it’s sort of weird that we’re on our way to Mars… and it’s really boring! But really that’s the way you want it to be. Everything’s going fine, so we’ll just keep going!

    Before we launched, my job was to make sure that all the instruments were integrated properly on the spacecraft, and that they were tested properly.

    Right now while we’re sort of in this limbo time where we’re waiting, my job is to help the teams prepare for operations.

    “I love that a lot of my work is collaborative, so I spend a lot of time working with other people.” Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    It’s kind of an engineer’s job to worry. Because it’s always the things you never imagined would happen that happen.

    We’re halfway to Mars right now, literally this week is the halfway point, and I’ve been getting Mars landing nightmares.

    Less than half the missions that have tried landing on Mars have succeeded. So it’s a little scary when you spend that much time on a spacecraft and it’s all going to come down to that one day – Monday 16 November. We’ll see what happens!

    The way that we operate the spacecraft is that we basically write commands. Each one is a piece of code that we send up to the spacecraft to tell it what to do when it’s on the ground.

    When the spacecraft is sleeping at night, we work. So we get all the data down, look at it and tell the spacecraft: “Hey InSight, tomorrow these are the tasks I want you to do!”


    And then we uplink it, right before it wakes up in the morning. Then we go to bed and the spacecraft does its work.

    Being ‘on console’ means working from mission control, home to the Deep Space Network which communicates with Nasa’s distant missions. Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    But because the Mars day shifts every day, we also have to shift our schedule by an hour every day. So the first day we’ll start at 6am, and then [the next] will be 7am… 8am… 9am… and then we take a day off.

    About once a week we’ve been turning on a different instrument and doing a checkout. So just making sure that everything was ok from launch, that the instrument is still behaving properly.

    One of those tests is happening today. We do that from console because the spacecraft is being operated at Lockheed Martin in Denver, and the instrument teams are looking at that data from Europe, so we use a system that allows us all to talk to each other.

    What’s your favourite aspect of your job?

    No matter what I do on a given day, no one’s really done it before. And I think that’s what’s exciting. We don’t just do incremental change, we do brand new things.

    Landing sites are carefully chosen, as many of the spacecraft that have tried to land on Mars have met with an unpleasant end. Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    It helps put things in perspective, because my job does involve spending days looking at spreadsheets sometimes, or building PowerPoint slides, or answering emails. I definitely do a lot of that, so it’s just as boring sometimes as other jobs.

    But putting it into perspective… even on a boring day my spacecraft is still on its way to Mars!

    Team X brainstorm: “You can go to them and say I have this wild idea, and they make you make this wild idea into a mission concept.” Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    How did you become a Nasa engineer?

    So my path is a little strange. I actually grew up in England… I grew up in Manchester and went to university at Cambridge and then ended up at MIT. When I was at MIT I interned at JPL.

    One of the things I try to do is mentor other women interns, because I had really great mentors when I was an intern, and that’s how I got my job.

    Dr Alibay with JPL intern Taleen Sarkissian.Farah Alibay/JPL/NASA

    What’s next, after Mars?

    I will be part of the InSight team until the end of the instrument deployment, so probably until February 2019.

    My dream actually… we don’t have a mission on that yet, but my favourite moon is Saturn’s Enceladus.

    The geysers at the south pole of Enceladus are incredible, and I’ve worked on mission concepts before that we’ve proposed to Nasa to fly through those plumes. One day I want there to be a mission to do that.

    We’re focused on finding life in the Solar System right now, and I think a lot of us believe that in our lifetime… if there’s life in the Solar System we’re probably going find it.

    So I want to be part of the team that finds it.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    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.

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  • richardmitnick 9:14 am on August 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Lauren N. Adamo, Polar science, , Women in STEM   

    From Rutgers University: Women in STEM- “Museum Co-Director Lauren N. Adamo is off to the Swiss Alps!” 

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    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    Julie Criscione

    Our very own Dr. Lauren Neitzke Adamo has been selected for a PolarTREC Expedition to the Swiss Alps to study the sliding rate of glaciers!

    No image caption or credit.

    No image caption or credit.

    PolarTREC (Teachers and Researchers Exploring and Collaborating) is a program that selects formal and informal educators to spend 3 to 6 weeks participating in hands-on research in the Arctic and Antarctic with the goal of increasing interest and awareness of polar science. The program, funded by the Arctic Research Consortium of the United States (ARCUS), began about 10 years ago and has already provided more than 150 teachers with hands-on field research experience.

    Dr. Adamo is currently in Switzerland preparing for her expedition into the Alps. Her research with Drs. Neal Iverson (Iowa State University) and Lucas Zoet (University of Wisconsin-Madison) in the Valais Canton will begin on August 10th. The goal of the project is to develop the mathematical relationships (also called sliding laws) necessary to predict the sliding speeds of the glaciers.

    Accurate sliding laws are necessary to create models of ice-sheet flow and the associated sea-level rise. In order to better understand the sliding laws in the Swiss Alps, the team will be using drones to get detailed measurements of the topography of the forefields of seven receding glaciers. This topography will then be used to develop computer models that will allow the team to determine the sliding laws governing the glaciers. This work is extremely important because it will help to predict future glacial change.

    Follow her adventures through the Alps here.

    Be sure to check out her live-streaming event from the Alps on August 23!

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    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 8:10 am on August 16, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Samy Movassaghi, Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM- “The key to a STEM career? Curiosity, persistence and a knack for problem solving!” Samy Movassaghi 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    16 August 2018
    Ali Green

    On top of Samy’s work as a researcher, she is often sought after as a spokesperson for inspiring young people to take up a career in tech.

    It’s National Science Week and we’ve been taking a closer look at science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers and pathways – answering burning questions and debunking myths like: what kinds of opportunities can be found in a STEM career path? What current and future jobs rely on STEM skills? What kinds of people pursue STEM careers? Can I only become a physicist if I study physics?

    To answer some of these questions, we’re getting up close and personal with Telecommunications Engineer, 2017 Google Research Fellowship recipient and ICT Student of the Year, Samy Movassaghi to hear about some of the cool things she’s doing in her job, what sparked her interest in STEM, and the pathway that led to her becoming a STEM professional. Samy even has some tips for eager young STEM enthusiasts!

    Samy developed an algorithm inspired by fireflies to help solve a communications network challenge.

    Tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment and how you got there.

    Samy: I work on wearable biomarker sensors, or “insideables” that can track our health. Specifically, communications between a network of intelligent, low-power, micro and nano-technology sensors which can be placed on or in the body (including in the blood stream) to monitor vitals and provide timely data for medical diagnoses and action. One potential advantage of this technology is early detection of medical conditions, resulting in major improvements to quality of life. These networks can be expanded beyond healthcare for use in sport, entertainment and many other areas with their main characteristic being to improve the user’s quality of life.

    Apparently some of this work was inspired by fireflies?

    Yeah, that’s right. I designed a self-organisation algorithm inspired by the way fireflies stimulate each other to communicate (flash their lights) which allows the coexisting networks to autonomously configure themselves when communicating. The difficulty is, these sensors, which are all battery powered, are placed on and in the body, making constant recharging and replacement impractical. A better solution would be to extend their battery life as much as possible. So, like a swarm of fireflies, my protocol allows the sensors to communicate with each other and power up and adapt their transmissions when needed, minimising the drain on their batteries.

    And what was your pathway to this job?

    Well, I did a PhD in telecommunications engineering. During this time I did a couple of internships and won a few awards like the ICT student of the year award from the Australian Computer Society (ACS) at the Digital Disruptor Awards, a Google Fellowship award that is funding me to go to Mountain View at the end of this month, being featured as part of the CSIROSeven campaign promoting STEM careers, Business Innovation in IT award from Nasscom Australia and some others!

    Wow that’s impressive! What were all these awards for?

    So they were mainly for my proposals and research work during my PhD studies, showcased across various competitions, and also the work that I had accomplished by participating in solving challenges at a number of hackathons.

    What type of personality traits or interests do you think lend themselves to a career in computers and tech?

    So this work is mainly about persistence and problem solving. For me, it’s just like wanting to solve a brain teaser or find my way through a maze – I like the challenge of finding a way to solve a problem.

    What’s the earliest step you remember taking on your education path towards a career in information technology (IT)?

    As a child I was quite lucky that my parents were very open to us exploring what we wanted to do. They would constantly buy me all these electronic starter kits, and I would put them together and then watch them work, progressing to more complex projects – and that’s how it all started. I was constantly inspired by remote controls, or anything electronic. I would pull them apart trying to understand what those circuits and components were all about and how they led to certain functionalities. I decided electronic engineering was my natural calling and so I pursued a bachelor degree to understand more around that. Later on I decided to look into the communication between circuits, which led to further research in telecommunications engineering through my Masters and PhD Studies.

    And for any young people looking to pursue a career similar to yours, what are your recommendations?

    Nowadays, even at the very early ages in primary school, I can see there are a lot of coding challenges and different competitions that really encourage students to pursue a career in STEM and get exposed to coding or building new applications for certain challenges within a specific area of demand.

    Over the next month there are a number of different events encouraging young people to get into ICT, one of which is the international Bebras computational thinking challenge. The Bebras challenge is designed to enhance students’ problem solving skills and prepare them for the jobs of the future. It’s a free classroom resource for teachers and runs 3-14 September. Visit the link below to take the Bebras Challenge.

    With how much urgency should we be promoting people to take up careers in STEM or ICT?

    With the recent advancements in the Internet of Things, machine learning, data science, and big data, a career in ICT is very promising for one’s future. As humans collect more and more data, having an IT background helps you to better understand the science behind the data and how it can be used to make decisions and improve ones’ quality of life. There are so many opportunities to marry IT knowledge with all sorts of other STEM disciplines – medical, environment and design for example.

    Do you have any final words of advice for someone thinking about pursuing a STEM career?

    In my case, I’m really happy that I chose a career in STEM because it has given me the opportunity to explore my world in another dimension. With all the advancements happening around us, my STEM background gives me a better understanding of our changing world, and makes me feel like I can make a contribution. That is very motivating and quite exciting.

    I’d recommend that students interested in a STEM career investigate the different competitions and challenges available to them. It’s a great way to sharpen and test your STEM skills set while having fun.


    How will your computational thinking skills prepare you for the jobs of the future?
    Take the Bebras Challenge


    See the full article here .


    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 8:35 am on August 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Dr. Cathy Foley, , Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM- “We just appointed our new Chief Scientist and she is one ‘super woman’” Dr. Cathy Foley 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    14 August 2018
    Nicholas Kachel


    When Dr Cathy Foley was in primary school she found out she was dyslexic. She had terrible handwriting and spelling and was struggling in class. As one of seven kids, her brothers teased her relentlessly about her challenges with reading and writing. But she managed to turn her tribulation into determination and resilience. And those are traits that she still carries with her today. The teasing, she says, just helped push her even harder to prove them wrong.

    And then when she was just nine years old, her mother passed away. This obviously took a huge toll on Cathy but she says it helped teach her resilience and that even painful situations show you that you can move on and survive another day. In high school, Cathy had a teacher who picked up that although she was struggling in most of her subjects, she was excelling in one – science. At that stage, though, Cathy thought she’d channel this into becoming a science teacher.

    “I always thought you had to be sort of Einstein’s relative if you were going to be a physicist. But I still had that secret desire,” Cathy says.

    That teacher was one of Cathy’s first science mentors and she attributes some of her success to those formative years where she finally felt like she was doing well in a subject she enjoyed.

    It wasn’t until Cathy was at a youth camp that she realised she wanted to change the world. Her compassion for others and a sense of wanting to see more fairness in the world, changed the course of her career.

    ”At the youth camp, I found one on one interactions were frustrating for me. It was then that I decided I wanted to change the world rather than work face to face, one engagement at a time. Science and technology seemed like the way I could do this. And then CSIRO was the perfect vehicle for me to realise this vision.”

    She studied physics and education at Sydney’s Macquarie University with the intention of becoming a high school science teacher.

    “But I fell in love with research and I did my PhD in nitride semiconductors and did a smidgen of the early work that led to the white LED,” she says.

    Today Cathy’s achievements over a career spanning 33 years are pretty intimidating.

    Having decided to pursue a career in research, Cathy joined us as a post-doctoral fellow working in magnetics and was asked to join the team working on applications for the new high temperature superconductors.


    Cathy is a world-renowned physicist and science leader most noted for her work developing superconducting systems including a technology called LANDTEM which uses superconductors to create three-dimensional maps of underground ore bodies. The device that Cathy helped develop has revolutionised the way mining companies detect ore underground and uncovered deposits worth billions of dollars around the world.

    Cathy has risen through the ranks here holding many senior positions is currently the Deputy Director and Science Director of our Manufacturing business unit.

    And in her latest venture, Cathy has just been appointed as our Chief Scientist. This is one of the most senior roles in the organisation and she says her priority will be putting science, STEM and women in science back in the spotlight.

    Although Cathy is now less involved in hands-on research than she used to be, she still finds her job exciting.

    “It’s pretty exciting to think that the work you do actually has an enormous impact and can make a difference. If you ask the people I work with, they all say that’s what they love about working at CSIRO. We do things that actually change the world and I think that’s a nice thing to do,” she says.

    Not only is she one of Australia’s leading scientists, has a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics, a Bachelor of Science and a Diploma of Education, but she is leading the way for women in science and encouraging the next generation of young girls to follow in her footsteps.

    “Australia’s future prosperity will be fuelled by science. Science which creates new industries, new jobs and shapes the minds and aspirations of our future leaders. We can’t keep thinking about science as something which is locked away in a lab. It connects and drives everything we touch and do.

    “In my new role, I’m looking forward to not just spreading the word, but helping shape the science agenda, raising the profile of the role of women in STEM and being a mentor to other women inspired by science.”

    Cathy credits much of her success to being supported by her family, particularly her husband, her six siblings and step-mother.

    “My step-mother helped me to not only have attention to detail, but also be organised. While my sisters and brothers have always been my mentors and greatest supporters. We all mentor each other swapping between being the mentor and mentee.”

    “And my husband Tony is a rock. Having a supportive husband and great children has been absolutely critical to my success.”

    See the full article here .


    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.

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