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  • richardmitnick 12:36 pm on June 26, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Catherine Drennan, , , Drennan seized on X-ray crystallography as a way to visualize molecular structures., , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: Women in STEM- “For Catherine Drennan, teaching and research are complementary passions” 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    June 26, 2019
    Leda Zimmerman

    1
    “Really the most exciting thing for me is watching my students ask good questions, problem-solve, and then do something spectacular with what they’ve learned,” says Professor Catherine Drennan. Photo: James Kegley

    Professor of biology and chemistry is catalyzing new approaches in research and education to meet the climate challenge.

    Catherine Drennan says nothing in her job thrills her more than the process of discovery. But Drennan, a professor of biology and chemistry, is not referring to her landmark research on protein structures that could play a major role in reducing the world’s waste carbons.

    “Really the most exciting thing for me is watching my students ask good questions, problem-solve, and then do something spectacular with what they’ve learned,” she says.

    For Drennan, research and teaching are complementary passions, both flowing from a deep sense of “moral responsibility.” Everyone, she says, “should do something, based on their skill set, to make some kind of contribution.”

    Drennan’s own research portfolio attests to this sense of mission. Since her arrival at MIT 20 years ago, she has focused on characterizing and harnessing metal-containing enzymes that catalyze complex chemical reactions, including those that break down carbon compounds.

    She got her start in the field as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, where she became captivated by vitamin B12. This very large vitamin contains cobalt and is vital for amino acid metabolism, the proper formation of the spinal cord, and prevention of certain kinds of anemia. Bound to proteins in food, B12 is released during digestion.

    “Back then, people were suggesting how B12-dependent enzymatic reactions worked, and I wondered how they could be right if they didn’t know what B12-dependent enzymes looked like,” she recalls. “I realized I needed to figure out how B12 is bound to protein to really understand what was going on.”

    Drennan seized on X-ray crystallography as a way to visualize molecular structures. Using this technique, which involves bouncing X-ray beams off a crystallized sample of a protein of interest, she figured out how vitamin B12 is bound to a protein molecule.

    “No one had previously been successful using this method to obtain a B12-bound protein structure, which turned out to be gorgeous, with a protein fold surrounding a novel configuration of the cofactor,” says Drennan.

    Carbon-loving microbes show the way

    These studies of B12 led directly to Drennan’s one-carbon work. “Metallocofactors such as B12 are important not just medically, but in environmental processes,” she says. “Many microbes that live on carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or methane — eating carbon waste or transforming carbon — use metal-containing enzymes in their metabolic pathways, and it seemed like a natural extension to investigate them.”

    Some of Drennan’s earliest work in this area, dating from the early 2000s, revealed a cluster of iron, nickel, and sulfur atoms at the center of the enzyme carbon monoxide dehydrogenase (CODH). This so-called C-cluster serves hungry microbes, allowing them to “eat” carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.

    Recent experiments by Drennan analyzing the structure of the C-cluster-containing enzyme CODH showed that in response to oxygen, it can change configurations, with sulfur, iron, and nickel atoms cartwheeling into different positions. Scientists looking for new avenues to reduce greenhouse gases took note of this discovery. CODH, suggested Drennan, might prove an effective tool for converting waste carbon dioxide into a less environmentally destructive compound, such as acetate, which might also be used for industrial purposes.

    Drennan has also been investigating the biochemical pathways by which microbes break down hydrocarbon byproducts of crude oil production, such as toluene, an environmental pollutant.

    “It’s really hard chemistry, but we’d like to put together a family of enzymes to work on all kinds of hydrocarbons, which would give us a lot of potential for cleaning up a range of oil spills,” she says.

    The threat of climate change has increasingly galvanized Drennan’s research, propelling her toward new targets. A 2017 study she co-authored in Science detailed a previously unknown enzyme pathway in ocean microbes that leads to the production of methane, a formidable greenhouse gas: “I’m worried the ocean will make a lot more methane as the world warms,” she says.

    Drennan hopes her work may soon help to reduce the planet’s greenhouse gas burden. Commercial firms have begun using the enzyme pathways that she studies, in one instance employing a proprietary microbe to capture carbon dioxide produced during steel production — before it is released into the atmosphere — and convert it into ethanol.

    “Reengineering microbes so that enzymes take not just a little, but a lot of carbon dioxide out of the environment — this is an area I’m very excited about,” says Drennan.

    Creating a meaningful life in the sciences

    At MIT, she has found an increasingly warm welcome for her efforts to address the climate challenge.

    “There’s been a shift in the past decade or so, with more students focused on research that allows us to fuel the planet without destroying it,” she says.

    In Drennan’s lab, a postdoc, Mary Andorfer, and a rising junior, Phoebe Li, are currently working to inhibit an enzyme present in an oil-consuming microbe whose unfortunate residence in refinery pipes leads to erosion and spills. “They are really excited about this research from the environmental perspective and even made a video about their microorganism,” says Drennan.

    Drennan delights in this kind of enthusiasm for science. In high school, she thought chemistry was dry and dull, with no relevance to real-world problems. It wasn’t until college that she “saw chemistry as cool.”

    The deeper she delved into the properties and processes of biological organisms, the more possibilities she found. X-ray crystallography offered a perfect platform for exploration. “Oh, what fun to tell the story about a three-dimensional structure — why it is interesting, what it does based on its form,” says Drennan.

    The elements that excite Drennan about research in structural biology — capturing stunning images, discerning connections among biological systems, and telling stories — come into play in her teaching. In 2006, she received a $1 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) for her educational initiatives that use inventive visual tools to engage undergraduates in chemistry and biology. She is both an HHMI investigator and an HHMI professor, recognition of her parallel accomplishments in research and teaching, as well as a 2015 MacVicar Faculty Fellow for her sustained contribution to the education of undergraduates at MIT.

    Drennan attempts to reach MIT students early. She taught introductory chemistry classes from 1999 to 2014, and in fall 2018 taught her first introductory biology class.

    “I see a lot of undergraduates majoring in computer science, and I want to convince them of the value of these disciplines,” she says. “I tell them they will need chemistry and biology fundamentals to solve important problems someday.”

    Drennan happily migrates among many disciplines, learning as she goes. It’s a lesson she hopes her students will absorb. “I want them to visualize the world of science and show what they can do,” she says. “Research takes you in different directions, and we need to bring the way we teach more in line with our research.”

    She has high expectations for her students. “They’ll go out in the world as great teachers and researchers,” Drennan says. “But it’s most important that they be good human beings, taking care of other people, asking what they can do to make the world a better place.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


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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.

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  • richardmitnick 8:32 am on June 17, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "This Incredible Orbit Map of Our Solar System Makes Our Brains Ache", Eleanor Lutz, , , , Women in STEM   

    From University of Washington via Science Alert: Women in STEM- “This Incredible Orbit Map of Our Solar System Makes Our Brains Ache” Eleanor Lutz 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    1
    (Eleanor Lutz)

    17 JUN 2019
    EVAN GOUGH

    If you want to know what a talent for scientific visualizations looks like, check out Eleanor Lutz. She’s a PhD student in biology at the University of Washington, and at her website Tabletop Whale, you can see her amazing work on full display.

    Her latest piece is a map showing all the orbits of over 18,000 asteroids in the Solar System. It includes 10,000 asteroids that are over 10 km in diameter, and about 8,000 objects of unknown size.

    As the tagline at her website says, she produces “Charts, infographics, and animations about any and all things science.”

    This includes things like a “Visual Compendium of Glowing Creatures,” “All the Stars You Can See From Earth,” and a beautiful topographic map of Mercury.

    2

    But it’s her newest project that is garnering her a lot of attention in the space community. Lutz is working on an Atlas of Space, and has been for the last year and a half. It’s a collection of ten visualizations including planets, moons, and outer space.

    As she says on her website, “I’ve made an animated map of the seasons on Earth, a map of Mars geology, and a map of everything in the solar system bigger than 10 km.”

    It’s that map of objects larger than 10 km that is generating buzz.

    3
    (Eleanor Lutz)

    All of the data for Lutz’s Atlas of Space is public data, freely available. She gets if from sources like NASA and the US Geological Survey.

    Part of what drives her is that even though the data is public and freely available, it’s raw. And taking that raw data and turning it into a helpful, and even beautiful, visualization, takes a lot of work.

    In an interview with Wired, Lutz said, “I really like that all this data is accessible, but it’s very difficult to visualize. It’s really awesome science, and I wanted everyone to be able to see it in a way that makes sense.”

    4
    ( Eleanor Lutz)

    5
    (Eleanor Lutz)

    Lutz’s work is really more than data visualizations. She has a designer’s eye, and some of her work is very artful.

    But being a scientist, she’s inspired to share the data and the methods she used to create her work. She plans to publish the open source code for each of her pieces, and also tutorials for how to create them yourself.

    It’s difficult to understand our world, or anything in nature really, without engaging with science. Without science, all we have is anecdote and opinion.

    But science is all about data, and dense data is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s taxing and time-consuming to understand.

    Lutz’s work is making it easier. In an interview with Wired, she said, “There’s a knowledge barrier to accessing some of the interesting, awesome things about science. There are so many facts and equations, and I want those cool ideas to be accessible.”

    To access some of those cool ideas she’s talking about, visit her website, tabletopwhale.com, where you can explore her work and her methods. You can also purchase prints there.

    This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

    See the full article here .


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    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:39 am on May 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists discover ancient seawater preserved from the last Ice Age", Asst. Prof. Clara Blättler- U Chicago, , Geophysical sciences, , Women in STEM   

    From University of Chicago: Women in STEM- “Scientists discover ancient seawater preserved from the last Ice Age” Asst. Prof. Clara Blättler, U Chicago 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    May 23, 2019
    Louise Lerner

    1
    Asst. Prof. Clara Blättler with a vial of seawater dating to the last Ice Age—about 20,000 years ago. Photo by Jean Lachat.

    Drops locked inside rock offer clues to modeling Earth’s climate and ocean circulation.

    Twenty thousand years ago, in the thick of an Ice Age, Earth looked very different. Because water was locked up in glaciers hundreds of feet thick, which stretched down over Chicago and New York City, the ocean was smaller—shorelines extended hundreds of miles farther out, and the remaining water was saltier and colder.

    A University of Chicago scientist led a study [Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta] that recently announced the discovery of the first-ever direct remnants of that ocean: pockets of seawater dating to the Ice Age, tucked inside rock formations in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

    “Previously, all we had to go on to reconstruct seawater from the last Ice Age were indirect clues, like fossil corals and chemical signatures from sediments on the seafloor,” said Clara Blättler, an assistant professor of geophysical sciences at the University of Chicago, who studies Earth history using isotope geochemistry. “But from all indications, it looks pretty clear we now have an actual piece of this 20,000-year-old ocean.”

    Blättler and the team made the discovery on a months-long scientific mission exploring the limestone deposits that form the Maldives, a set of tiny islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The ship, the JOIDES Resolution, is specifically built for ocean science and is equipped with a drill that can extract cores of rock over a mile long from up to three miles beneath the seafloor. Then scientists either vacuum out the water or use a hydraulic press to squeeze the water out of the sediments.

    2
    Scientists carry a core of rock extracted by drill. Photo by Carlos Alvarez-Zarikian

    The scientists were actually studying those rocks to determine how sediments are formed in the area, which is influenced by the yearly Asian monsoon cycle. But when they extracted the water, they noticed their preliminary tests were coming back salty—much saltier than normal seawater. “That was the first indication we had something unusual on our hands,” Blättler said.

    The scientists took the vials of water back to their labs and ran a rigorous battery of tests on the chemical elements and isotopes that made up the seawater. All of their data pointed to the same thing: The water was not from today’s ocean, but the last remnants of a previous era that had migrated slowly through the rock.

    Scientists are interested in reconstructing the last Ice Age because the patterns that drove its circulation, climate and weather were very different from today’s—and understanding these patterns could shed light on how the planet’s climate will react in the future. “Any model you build of the climate has to be able to accurately predict the past,” Blättler said.

    For example, she said, ocean circulation is a primary player in climate, and scientists have a lot of questions about how that looked during an Ice Age. “Since so much fresh water was pulled into glaciers, the oceans would have been significantly saltier—which is what we saw,” Blättler said. “The properties of the seawater we found in the Maldives suggests that salinity in the Southern Ocean may have been more important in driving circulation than it is today.

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    On Asst. Prof. Clara Blättler’s desk is a pencil holder made from a drill bit used to extract cores of rock from the seafloor, as well as vials of the 20,000-year-old ocean. Photo by Jean Lachat.

    “It’s kind of a nice connection,” she said, “since Cesare Emiliani, who is widely regarded as the father of paleoceanography—reconstructing the ancient ocean—actually wrote his seminal paper on the subject here at the University of Chicago in 1955.”

    Their readings from the water align with predictions based on other evidence—a nice confirmation, Blättler said. The findings may also suggest places to search for other such pockets of ancient water.

    Other co-authors on the paper were from Princeton University and the University of Miami.

    Funding: International Ocean Drilling Program (National Science Foundation, Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, European Consortium for Ocean Research Drilling), Simons Foundation.

    See the full article here .

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    U Chicago Campus

    An intellectual destination

    One of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Chicago has driven new ways of thinking since our 1890 founding. Today, UChicago is an intellectual destination that draws inspired scholars to our Hyde Park and international campuses, keeping UChicago at the nexus of ideas that challenge and change the world.

    The University of Chicago is an urban research university that has driven new ways of thinking since 1890. Our commitment to free and open inquiry draws inspired scholars to our global campuses, where ideas are born that challenge and change the world.

    We empower individuals to challenge conventional thinking in pursuit of original ideas. Students in the College develop critical, analytic, and writing skills in our rigorous, interdisciplinary core curriculum. Through graduate programs, students test their ideas with UChicago scholars, and become the next generation of leaders in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.

    UChicago research has led to such breakthroughs as discovering the link between cancer and genetics, establishing revolutionary theories of economics, and developing tools to produce reliably excellent urban schooling. We generate new insights for the benefit of present and future generations with our national and affiliated laboratories: Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The University of Chicago is enriched by the city we call home. In partnership with our neighbors, we invest in Chicago’s mid-South Side across such areas as health, education, economic growth, and the arts. Together with our medical center, we are the largest private employer on the South Side.

    In all we do, we are driven to dig deeper, push further, and ask bigger questions—and to leverage our knowledge to enrich all human life. Our diverse and creative students and alumni drive innovation, lead international conversations, and make masterpieces. Alumni and faculty, lecturers and postdocs go on to become Nobel laureates, CEOs, university presidents, attorneys general, literary giants, and astronauts.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:29 am on May 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Mareena Robinson Snowden PhD '17, , , Women in STEM   

    From MIT News: “Plotting new paths to a nuclear ‘yes'” -Mareena Robinson Snowden PhD ’17 

    MIT News

    From MIT News

    May 28, 2019
    Leda Zimmerman | Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering

    1
    “I try to understand how policy makers and negotiators think, explore current nuclear challenges, and then try to evolve technical frameworks to meet the world as it is,” says Mareena Robinson Snowden PhD ’17. Photo: Leslie Jean.

    Nuclear science and engineering alumna Mareena Robinson Snowden PhD ’17 devises new solutions for problems of arms control and proliferation.

    These are tough times for proponents of arms control and nuclear nonproliferation. Talks with North Korea seem to be at another impasse, and the United States and Russia are walking away from decades-old weapons agreements. But this state of affairs doesn’t seem to faze Mareena Robinson Snowden PhD ’17 in nuclear science and engineering.

    “It’s exciting as a researcher to work on something that people are thinking about now, something with real-world implications,” says Snowden. A Stanton nuclear security fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), she is focused on bringing new ideas to the table on nuclear arms control.

    “I try to understand how policymakers and negotiators think, explore current nuclear challenges, and then try to evolve technical frameworks to meet the world as it is,” she says.

    Snowden’s work is part of a larger CEIP initiative, the “nuclear firewall” project. Through this effort, scholars hope “to distinguish between peaceful nuclear programs and those focused on weapons,” applying both technical and contextual analysis, explains Snowden. CEIP wants to help nations sidestep nuclear crises, and to stem the acquisition of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states.

    Since joining Carnegie last summer, Snowden has been looking especially hard at the question of nuclear verification, a problem that is quite different today than in years past.

    With the United States and Russia — established nuclear states — verification frameworks permit reciprocal inspection of nuclear weapons systems. Under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, an international agency goes on location to monitor progress on the accumulation of fissile nuclear materials used for bomb building.

    But North Korea presents a new, hybrid challenge for verification, according to Snowden. “The U.S. does not consider North Korea a peer nation like Russia, and reciprocal nuclear inspections are not on the table here,” she says. And given North Korea’s sprawling, highly developed, and very secretive nuclear system — from missiles and mobile launchers to warheads and enrichment plants — it seems implausible to establish a framework involving demands for the system’s complete dismantlement, and intrusive visits to ensure compliance with the framework.

    So what kind of plan might work for the kind of evolving, emerging nuclear challenge represented by North Korea?

    One concept, suggests Snowden, might require “the U.S. government and international community to prioritize what constitutes militarily significant activities within the larger program, and to ask for limits and demonstrations of compliance on just those activities.”

    Under “probabilistic verification,” negotiators pose the question, “What’s enough?” says Snowden. They zero in on a cluster of technically critical features whose elimination or destruction would prove sufficient for the purposes of reducing nuclear weapons capability.

    But it seems unlikely the current U.S. administration would embrace such a framework. “Today the expectation in the American mind, set by the current commander in chief, is to go big, go for an all-or-nothing deal,” she says. Successful agreements require lengthy negotiations between diplomats, says Snowden, noting it took 10 years to lay the groundwork for the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces pact between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. “One-and-done” — a single nuclear summit between two leaders — is unrealistic, believes Snowden.

    Driven to succeed

    It took just a single class on the history of nuclear non-proliferation to seize Snowden’s interest as a graduate student.

    “I had so many questions: ‘Why were there such tensions between countries? What policies deal with these weapons?’” she says. “There are technical questions at the heart of nuclear disagreements between nations, and for a technical person, this was a clear lane for me,” she says.

    Her thesis investigated whether natural radiation signals generated inside of plutonium-based warheads could be using to monitor them in a future arms control agreement.

    Conducting this research wasn’t always smooth sailing. But Snowden found guidance and support from two key advisors. “Richard Lanza (a senior research scientist), a titan in the field of radiation detection, spent so much time brainstorming with me, and discussing my data and analysis,” she says. “And with Sidney Yip [emeritus professor of nuclear science and engineering], it went beyond technical mentorship to personal mentorship: He talked about how difficult the PhD process is, and gave me the encouragement to get through it.”

    Snowden felt strongly driven to get through her graduate studies, which she describes as “an extended period of uncertainty.” She was the first black woman to receive a PhD from MIT’s nuclear science and engineering program. “I understood I existed in a unique space, and this was a complete motivator for me,” she says. “There was no license to lie down and give up, because who knows when the next person of color, particularly another black woman, will come in behind me.”

    Dual missions

    Snowden seeks to advance both the community she represents and her ideas in the arms control domain — sometimes simultaneously. In “Responsible Disruption,” a paper she recently published on the website N Square, she argues for greater inclusion of women and other marginalized voices in nuclear security debates.

    “For a long time, gender was not considered a valid part of nuclear security discussions, but it’s now becoming a vibrant conversation,” she says. “There are biological impacts related to the ionizing radiation of nuclear weapons that affect women differently, as well as gendered impacts associated with crisis and conflict during and following war.” She also notes that the impacts of most conflicts fall hardest on those pushed to the margins, whether along class, racial, or gender lines. So it is imperative, Snowden says, that “we have different voices at the table, especially when some are starting to entertain the premise of limited nuclear war.”

    She sees popular culture as a way to lure interest to arms policy discussions, and to her field more generally. Just as the film and book “Hidden Figures” drew attention to black women in computer science, making the discipline more accessible, she believes that creative storytellers could “dig into the history of the nuclear security space and tell that story in a new way that really connects with people, especially with underrepresented communities,” says Snowden. “We need to reframe who this space belongs to.”

    While Snowden might someday delve into such storytelling, she is at full throttle at Carnegie, currently preparing a paper on the necessary evolution of verification.

    “I discovered I really love research, so I would like to find a full-time position continuing this work,” she says. “There is a lot of instability now between countries with a history of conflict, which worries me, but I hope I will be able to provide valuable suggestions that will make a useful impact on real-world conversations about nuclear security, and navigate to a future that’s more stable.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


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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.

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  • richardmitnick 10:03 am on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A big universe needs big computing-Sijacki accessed HPC resources through XSEDE in the US and PRACE in Europe, , , , , Debora Sijacki, , She now uses the UK’s National Computing Service DiRAC in combination with PRACE, Sijacki wants to understand the role supermassive black holes (SMBH) play in galaxy formation., , Women in STEM   

    From Science Node: Women in STEM- “Shining a light on cosmic darkness” Debora Sijacki 

    Science Node bloc
    From Science Node

    08 May, 2019
    Alisa Alering

    1
    Debora Sijacki. Courtesy David Orr.

    Award-winning astrophysicist Debora Sijacki wants to understand how galaxies form.

    Carl Sagan once described the Earth as a “pale blue dot, a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark.”

    The need to shine a light into that cosmic darkness has long inspired astronomers to investigate the wonders that lie beyond our lonely planet. For Debora Sijacki, a reader in astrophysics and cosmology at the University of Cambridge, her curiosity takes the form of simulating galaxies in order to understand their origins.

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    A supermassive black hole at the center of a young, star-rich galaxy. SMBHs distort space and light around them, as illustrated by the warped stars behind the black hole. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

    “We human beings are a part of our Universe and we ultimately want to understand where we came from,” says Sijacki. “We want to know what is this bigger picture that we are taking part in.”

    Sijacki is the winner of the 2019 PRACE Ada Lovelace Award for HPC for outstanding contributions to and impact on high-performance computing (HPC). Initiated in 2016, the award recognizes female scientists working in Europe who have an outstanding impact on HPC research and who provide a role model for other women.

    Specifically, Sijacki wants to understand the role supermassive black holes (SMBH) play in galaxy formation. These astronomical objects are so immense that they contain mass on the order of hundreds of thousands to even billions of times the mass of the Sun. At the same time they are so compact that, if the Earth were a black hole, it would fit inside a penny.

    The first image of a black hole, Messier 87 Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via NSF and ERC 4.10.19

    SMBHs are at the center of many massive galaxies—there’s even one at the center of our own galaxy, The Milky Way. Astronomers theorize that these SMBHs are important not just in their own right but because they affect the properties of the galaxies themselves.

    Sgr A* from ESO VLT


    SGR A* ,the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory

    “What we think happens is that when gas accretes very efficiently and draws close to the SMBH it eventually falls into the SMBH,” says Sijacki. “The SMBH then grows in mass, but at the same time this accretion process is related to an enormous release of energy that can actually change the properties of galaxies themselves.”

    A big universe needs big computing

    To investigate the interplay of these astronomical phenomena, Sijacki and her team create simulations where they can zoom into details of SMBHs while at the same time viewing a large patch of the Universe. This allows them to focus on the physics of how black holes influence galaxies and even larger environments.

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    Dark matter density (l) transitioning to gas density (r). Large-scale projection through the Illustris volume at z=0, centered on the most massive galaxy cluster of the Illustris cosmological simulation. Courtesy Illustris Simulation.

    But in order to study something as big as the Universe, you need a big computer. Or several. As a Hubble Fellow at Harvard University, Sijacki accessed HPC resources through XSEDE in the US and PRACE in Europe. She now uses the UK’s National Computing Service DiRAC in combination with PRACE.

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    DiRAC is the UK’s integrated supercomputing facility for theoretical modelling and HPC-based research in particle physics, astronomy and cosmology.

    PRACE supercomputing resources

    Hazel Hen, GCS@HLRS, Cray XC40 supercomputer Germany

    JOLIOT CURIE of GENCI Atos BULL Sequana system X1000 supercomputer France

    JUWELS, GCS@FZJ, Atos supercomputer Germany

    MARCONI, CINECA, Lenovo NeXtScale supercomputer Italy

    MareNostrum Lenovo supercomputer of the National Supercomputing Center in Barcelona

    Cray Piz Daint Cray XC50/XC40 supercomputer of the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS)

    SuperMUC-NG, GCS@LRZ, Lenovo supercomputer Germany

    According to Sijacki, in the 70s, 80s, and 90s, astrophysicists laid the foundations of galaxy formation and developed some of the key ideas that still guide our understanding. But it was soon recognized that these theories needed to be refined—or even refuted.

    “There is only so much we can do with the pen-and-paper approach,” says Sijacki. “The equations we are working on are very complex and we have to solve them numerically. And it’s not just a single physical process, but many different mechanisms that we want to explain. Often when you put different bits of complex physics together, you can’t easily predict the outcome.”

    The other motivation for high-performance computing is the need for higher resolution models. This is because the physics in the real Universe occurs on a vast range of scales.

    “We’re talking about billions and trillions of resolution elements,” says Sijacki. “It requires massive parallel calculations on thousands of cores to evolve this really complex system with many resolution elements.”

    In recent years, high-performance computing resources have become more powerful and more widely available. New architectures and novel algorithms promise even greater efficiency and optimized parallelization.

    4
    Jet feedback from active galactic nuclei. (A) Large-scale image of the gas density centered on a massive galaxy cluster. (B) High-velocity jet launched by the central supermassive black hole. (C) Cold disk-like structure around the SMBH from which black hole is accreting. (D) 2D Voronoi mesh reconstruction and (E) velocity streamline map of a section of the jet, illustrating massive increase in spatial resolution achieved by this simulation. Courtesy Bourne, Sijacki, and Puchwein.

    Given these advances, Sijacki projects a near-future where astrophysicists can, for the first time, perform simulations that can consistently track individual stars in a given galaxy and follow that galaxy within a cosmological framework.

    “Full predictive models of the evolution of our Universe is our ultimate goal,” says Sijacki. “We would like to have a theory that is completely predictive, free of ill-constrained parameters, where we can theoretically understand how the Universe was built and how the structures in the Universe came about. This is our guiding star.”

    Awards matter

    When asked about the significance of the award, Sijacki says that she is proud to have her research recognized—and to be associated with the name of Ada Lovelace.

    Perhaps more importantly, the award has already had an immediate effect on the female PhD students and post-docs at Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. Sijacki says the recognition motivates the younger generations of female scientists, by showing them that this is a possible career path that leads to success and recognition.

    “I have seen how my winning this award makes them more enthusiastic—and more ambitious,” says Sijacki. “I was really happy to see that.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 2:08 pm on May 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Shake-up at NIH: Term limits for important positions would open new opportunities for women and minorities", , Many chiefs (54 of 272) have served at least 20 years and 17 for more than 30 years, , Starting next year the 272 lab and branch chiefs who oversee NIH's intramural research will be limited to 12-year terms., The main NIH campus in Bethesda Maryland and its other intramural research sites are known as stodgy places where the scientific management- mostly white men- tends to stay in place for decades., Up to half of the chiefs will turn over in the next 5 years, Women in STEM   

    From “Science”: Women in STEM- “Shake-up at NIH: Term limits for important positions would open new opportunities for women, minorities” 

    AAAS

    From “Science”

    1
    The National Institutes of Health’s in-house research program plans to limit the terms of midlevel managers, in part so that more women can move into leadership positions.
    National Institutes of Health/flickr (CC BY-NC)

    May 2, 2019
    Jocelyn Kaiser

    Able to pursue open-ended research without relentless grant deadlines, some scientists who work directly for the National Institutes of Health joke that NIH stands for “nerds in heaven.” But the main NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, and its other intramural research sites are also known as stodgy places where the scientific management, mostly white men, tends to stay in place for decades.

    1
    Mark O. Hatfield Clinical Research Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland

    Now, NIH is aiming to shake up its intramural program, the largest collection of biomedical researchers in the world, by imposing term limits on midlevel leadership positions.

    Starting next year, the 272 lab and branch chiefs who oversee NIH’s intramural research will be limited to 12-year terms. The policy, now being refined by the directors of NIH’s 23 institutes with in-house science programs, means up to half of the chiefs will turn over in the next 5 years, says Michael Gottesman, NIH’s deputy director for intramural research. “We see this as an opportunity for diversity in the leadership at NIH, especially gender and ethnic diversity,” says Hannah Valantine, NIH’s chief officer for scientific workforce diversity.

    The changes are roiling the campus, with some grumbling they will have little impact and others questioning whether good leaders should automatically be replaced. “The appointment of more women … could be a plus, but the ‘coin of the realm’ still remains scientific excellence and productivity,” says Malcolm Martin, who has headed a lab at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for 37 years.

    At most institutes, NIH’s intramural lab and branch chiefs oversee several labs or groups. Although they don’t control researchers’ budgets directly, they handle administrative matters, mentoring, and recruitment. Chiefs overseeing clinical studies and shared facilities hold even more sway. “These are fiefdoms where [chiefs have] power and resources,” Valantine says.

    Many chiefs (54 of 272) have served at least 20 years, and 17 for more than 30 years, Gottesman says. Although 26% are women—comparable to the 24% women among all NIH tenured researchers—men tend to lead larger programs. Because of the lack of turnover, “People feel like there’s no way they’ll ever have a leadership position,” says Gisela Storz, chair of NIH’s equity committee, which pushed for the changes. “And trainees need to see people in those positions who look like them.”

    Under the draft policy released in January, the chiefs will have to step down after at most three 4-year terms. The positions that become vacant will be filled through “open and transparent processes,” the draft policy states. While some institutes already do that, at others, the scientific director overseeing the intramural program “plucks an heir apparent” from internal staff, Storz says.

    To help build the pipeline, NIH will rely on a recently launched program aimed at recruiting more tenure-track female and minority faculty. In the long term, NIH hopes its intramural leadership will more closely reflect that women now earn more than 50% of new Ph.D. degrees in the biological sciences, Valantine says.

    Individual institutes are now figuring out how to enact the term limits “in a way that’s not disruptive,” Gottesman says. Some chiefs may be exempt, he says, if a change would have “serious consequences” for science programs, for example because there is no pool of candidates for the job.

    One former NIH veteran is skeptical. “How much have they thought this through?” asks Story Landis, who was scientific director and later director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. She questions why NIH would want to replace a midcareer chief doing a stellar job. And, she wonders, will the job searches truly be open? Will women get the training they need to move into leadership positions?

    Others point out that NIH’s scientific directors—seven of whom are now women—are the true feudal lords, and the new policy does not affect them. Gottesman has held his job for 25 years.

    But he and the scientific directors he oversees may be next: NIH term limits could “move up to other kinds of leadership,” Valantine says.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of all people.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:03 am on May 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Lisa Miller, , Women in STEM   

    From Brookhaven National Lab: Women n STEM- “Meet NSLS-II’s Lisa Miller” 

    From Brookhaven National Lab

    May 1, 2019
    Stephanie Kossman
    skossman@bnl.gov

    1
    As the manager of NSLS-II’s USCEO office, Lisa Miller can usually be found traveling around the facility’s experimental floor on trike—the most fun (and the safest) way to quickly get around NSLS-II’s half-mile ring.

    When Lisa Miller isn’t managing outreach efforts at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) [image s below], she’s using the facility’s ultrabright x-ray light to study neurological protein-misfolding diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

    Today, Miller is the manager of NSLS-II’s user services, communications, education, and outreach (USCEO) office, but she first came to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory 25 years ago as a doctoral student at NSLS, the predecessor of NSLS-II—a DOE Office of Science User Facility at Brookhaven.

    “My thesis advisor came to NSLS all the time,” Miller said. “He would send a team of four students and we would spend a lot of time collecting each other’s data. I always got the night shift.”

    Having developed a passion for scientific collaboration and helping others collect their data, Miller decided to come back to NSLS for a postdoctoral research project—building an infrared beamline (experimental station) for biological research.

    2
    When Lisa Miller isn’t managing outreach efforts at NSLS-II, she’s using the facility’s ultrabright x-ray light to study neurological protein-misfolding diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

    “And I’ve been here ever since,” she said. “After my postdoc, I ran two infrared beamlines at NSLS for 15 years.”

    Growing up, Miller and her three younger sisters were always encouraged to follow whatever career path they wanted. “Being a girl didn’t matter,” she said. “My dad taught us to drive a tractor, change the oil in the car, and fix the leaky sink. We got tools for our birthdays.”

    Of the four girls, Miller was the only one to become a scientist. “I always knew I liked science, but I never imagined working at a synchrotron light source,” she said. “I wanted to get a faculty job in a four-year undergraduate institution and teach. Research was a secondary thing to me. But in my early years at NSLS, I had such supportive mentors. All of the beamline scientists were so willing to help me succeed that, after a year, I had no desire to look for a faculty position.”

    During her time at NSLS and NSLS-II, Miller has been researching “protein-misfolding” diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, in which normal proteins in the brain clump together to form “plaques” and cause neurodegeneration—the death of brain cells.

    “We used the x-ray and infrared microscopes at NSLS to show that these plaques are loaded with metal ions like copper and zinc,” Miller said. “These metals are nutritionally essential, but they’re not supposed to be in the plaques. We’ve hypothesized that the metals can cause toxic reactions in the brain, leading to cell death. Now we are trying to figure out how and why this happens.”

    To move the field forward, Miller is developing new research methods that use the advanced capabilities of NSLS-II.

    “NSLS-II is a huge improvement for my research, especially in terms of the spatial resolution it provides,” she said. “Now we have these really tiny x-ray beams that enable us to image individual parts of the cells, including cell membranes, in order to understand how the metal ions are transported into the cells and damage them. The suite of imaging beamlines that we have here at NSLS-II enables us to study the problem from the level of the brain tissue all the way down to individual molecules in the cells.”

    Throughout her years of research, Miller retained her interest in science education. In 2001, she was asked to lead NSLS’s information and outreach office. Then, once NSLS-II was established, she became the facility’s first manager of USCEO.

    “Continuing my research is a really important part of my career, but that includes sharing my passion for science through teaching and outreach,” she said. As an adjunct associate professor in chemistry and biomedical engineering at Stony Brook University, Miller mentors doctoral students in synchrotron science. “Their generation will figure out the next cool things that synchrotrons can do.”

    Miller’s outreach efforts extend to the visiting researcher, or “user,” program that she oversees at NSLS-II.

    “My goal is for the users at NSLS-II to have a “Disneyland” user experience—to be able to do top-notch research, from conceiving the idea to doing the experiments and publishing the work, and having us support that. It’s more than just the photons; it’s everything from the registration process to comfortable accommodations and good coffee.”

    From the visiting researchers to the beamline scientists and support staff, Miller says having the chance to interact with so many different people is her favorite part of working at the light source.

    “We have a tremendous variety of personalities and a melting pot of people from all over the world,” she said. “The synchrotron community is a really welcoming and collaborative environment to be in.”

    As much as Miller likes working at NSLS-II, she stresses the importance of a work-life balance. Outside of “the office,” you can find Miller on backpacking trips around the country and the world. She’s hiked to the high points of 49 states, backpacked over 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

    Miller earned a Ph.D. in biophysics from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in 1995 and an M.S. in Chemistry from Georgetown University in 1992.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    BNL Campus


    BNL Center for Functional Nanomaterials

    BNL NSLS-II


    BNL NSLS II

    BNL RHIC Campus

    BNL/RHIC Star Detector

    BNL RHIC PHENIX

    One of ten national laboratories overseen and primarily funded by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Brookhaven National Laboratory conducts research in the physical, biomedical, and environmental sciences, as well as in energy technologies and national security. Brookhaven Lab also builds and operates major scientific facilities available to university, industry and government researchers. The Laboratory’s almost 3,000 scientists, engineers, and support staff are joined each year by more than 5,000 visiting researchers from around the world. Brookhaven is operated and managed for DOE’s Office of Science by Brookhaven Science Associates, a limited-liability company founded by Stony Brook University, the largest academic user of Laboratory facilities, and Battelle, a nonprofit, applied science and technology organization.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 12:25 pm on May 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Women in STEM   

    From Duke University: “Women in STEM at Duke” 

    Duke Bloc
    Duke Crest

    From Duke University

    April 22, 2019
    Stephen Schramm

    1
    James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering Ingrid Daubechies is one of Duke University’s most accomplished faculty members. Photo by Justin Cook.

    Jennifer West’s lab takes up an entire corner of Gross Hall’s third floor. Among the things West and her team are investigating in the lab is the use of nanoparticles that, when introduced into the body and exposed to infrared light, can heat up and destroy tumors. Duke has been West’s home since 2012. With its enthusiastic support of her research, it will likely remain so for a long time. But, at other points in her career, West hasn’t felt as comfortable.

    At her first-year student orientation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was one of few women in an auditorium filled with men. There were times in graduate school and as a faculty member elsewhere when she was her department’s only woman. “There was a palpable sense that we were the minority,” said West, the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering at Duke.

    For women who work, teach and study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics – often referred to as STEM fields – this is a familiar scenario. In both education and employment, women are often underrepresented in these disciplines.

    2
    Jennifer West, third from left, stands with students in her lab. Photo courtesy of Pratt School of Engineering.

    A report on the issue, “Solving the Equation,” by the American Association of University Women, states that “diversity in the workforce contributes to creativity, productivity and innovation. The United States can’t afford to ignore the perspectives of half the population in future engineering and technical designs.”

    At Duke, leaders, students, faculty and staff recognize the need to create inclusive environments in STEM fields. In its current academic strategic plan, Duke makes bolstering research and education in STEM fields a top priority and calls for more women to be involved in leading that charge.

    “We’re trying to shine a light on science and technology in general,” said Duke Provost Sally Kornbluth, a cell biologist. “But within that effort is a focus on diversifying our workforce and faculty cohort.”

    Working for Change

    3
    Rochelle Newton has four decades of experience working in information technology. Photo by Justin Cook.

    Rochelle Newton was a teenager in the 1970s when she began working with computers, feeding trays of punch cards into hulking contraptions that produced a fraction of the computing power of today’s smartphones.

    During her time in information technology, Newton, now senior systems and user services manager for the Duke University School of Law, has seen a head-spinning amount of technological change.

    The rate of change for women in the field, however, has been slower.

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, while women make up 46.9 percent of the nation’s labor force, they hold 25.5 percent of jobs in computer and mathematical occupations, up slightly from 24.8 percent a decade ago. At Duke, women hold 32.5 percent of positions in information technology, down from 33.5 percent a decade ago.

    Duke’s Office of Information Technology is trying to expand the range of voices in technology with intern programs that draw students from underrepresented populations, and through “Diversify IT,” a program providing networking and educational opportunities for IT professionals from all backgrounds.

    “If women represent half the population, they’re also half of the people using technology,” said Tracy Futhey, Duke’s vice president and chief information officer. “If the technologies they’re using are overwhelmingly designed by men, without involvement from women, they’re likely not going to be as welcoming, usable or interesting as technologies designed with a broader set of perspectives at the table.”

    Stories like Newton’s illustrate gradual progress in the field.

    Newton was the only woman or person of color at her first job decades ago in Virginia, where she said co-workers played mean-spirited pranks.

    “It was really hard, but I was stubborn,” Newton said. “I was going to persevere no matter what.”

    As technology advanced, so did Newton’s career. After earning multiple degrees, Newton joined Duke’s staff in 2008. Here, Newton completed professional development programs, such as the Duke Leadership Academy, and became an in-demand speaker on diversity in tech, all while earning a doctorate in higher education administration.

    Now, she’s creating the community she lacked earlier in her career with an informal group called “Techs and Collaborators.” The diverse collection of Duke IT professionals meets monthly, discussing upcoming projects and other topics. The group’s guiding principle is inclusiveness.

    “I don’t care what color you are, what gender you are, come to the table and bring what you can,” Newton said.

    Showing the Way

    3
    Early in her career in mathematics, Ingrid Daubechies drew inspiration from the women who charted the same path before her. Photo by Justin Cook.

    Ingrid Daubechies grew up in Belgium where public education was segregated by gender. It wasn’t until she studied physics in college that she ran into anyone questioning a woman’s place in science.

    “I knew I was good at it,” said Daubechies, the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I didn’t see it as an indictment of me, but of them.”

    Still, as she began a career in academia, even she experienced self-doubt.

    Daubechies worried her outgoing demeanor might be out of place among faculty. But once she met Irina Veretennicoff, a successful Belgian quantum mechanics professor who had a warm, gregarious personality, Daubechies’ concerns were silenced.

    Likewise, when Daubechies wondered if motherhood would conflict with her career, her fears were eased when she met acclaimed mathematician and mother of four Cathleen Morawetz.

    “As soon as I met one example, it was enough to show me it’s possible,” Daubechies said.

    Women who have successfully navigated STEM careers often carry the aspirations of those who hope to follow. That’s why developing strong female role models among the STEM faculty is a Duke priority.

    In “Together Duke,” the Academic Strategic Plan released in 2017, the university said it would “aggressively recruit and support women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.”

    Provost Sally Kornbluth said a key part of the initiative is bringing in elite female faculty members – like Daubechies, who came to Duke from Princeton in 2011 – to inspire students. Research has shown that women with female professors perform better in introductory STEM classes and are more likely to earn STEM degrees than those with male professors.

    So the presence of accomplished scientists such as Trinity College of Arts & Sciences Dean Valerie Ashby, a chemist, and department chairs such as chemistry’s Katherine Franz, evolutionary anthropology’s Susan Alberts and statistical science’s Merlise Clyde, looms large.

    “I would like women students to see many successful women role models so they can picture themselves being successful scientists one day,” Kornbluth said.

    Paying it Forward

    5
    Duke students from FEMMES (Females Excelling More in Math, Engineering and Science) help middle school students with science experiments. Photo by Justin Cook.

    On a recent Saturday, laughter spilled from some classrooms in the otherwise empty Physics Building on campus. Middle-school-aged girls and Duke undergraduates clustered around tables, creating exothermic and endothermic reactions with water, baking soda and calcium chloride.

    For Duke sophomore Megan Phibbons, part of FEMMES – Females Excelling More in Math Engineering and Science, the student-run organization that hosted the event – hearing the girls’ happy voices was a thrill.

    “It’s really easy to get talked over when you’re a young girl,” said Phibbons, a FEMMES executive board member. “Here, nobody gets talked over. It’s a supportive environment.”

    While Duke staff and faculty are tackling the issue of female underrepresentation in STEM fields, Duke’s students are, too.

    FEMMES is one of several student groups aimed at broadening the network of science-minded women both at Duke and beyond. That’s important because, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, women received 57.2 percent of all bachelor’s degrees during the 2016-17 academic year but 35.7 percent of those degrees are in STEM fields.

    Founded at Duke in 2006, FEMMES engages girls with STEM fields through fun and functional activities led by college students. The program has expanded to other universities and now organizes after school, weekend and summer programs.

    “It sets an example of ‘I can do this, too,’” Duke senior and FEMMES Co-President Carolyn Im said. “It shows that there are women pursuing these things, and if you want to do it, you can.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Duke Campus

    Younger than most other prestigious U.S. research universities, Duke University consistently ranks among the very best. Duke’s graduate and professional schools — in business, divinity, engineering, the environment, law, medicine, nursing and public policy — are among the leaders in their fields. Duke’s home campus is situated on nearly 9,000 acres in Durham, N.C, a city of more than 200,000 people. Duke also is active internationally through the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, Duke Kunshan University in China and numerous research and education programs across the globe. More than 75 percent of Duke students pursue service-learning opportunities in Durham and around the world through DukeEngage and other programs that advance the university’s mission of “knowledge in service to society.”

     
  • richardmitnick 9:11 am on April 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A computer re-use program at UNSW, A model for sustainability innovation that we demonstrated at UNSW, , “Enactus UNSW had a focus on social entrepreneurship”, Charlotte Wang, Edge Environment, Environmental engineering, Student startup eReuse Inc, , Women in STEM   

    From University of New South Wales: Women in STEM-” Computer says go: from e-waste entrepreneur to environmental engineer” Charlotte Wang 

    U NSW bloc

    From University of New South Wales

    29 Apr 2019
    Lachlan Gilbert

    1
    Charlotte Wang. Picture: Edge Environment.

    UNSW alumna Charlotte Wang was initially hesitant about doing a degree in environmental engineering, but since helping to launch a computer re-use program at UNSW, she has never looked back.

    When Charlotte Wang first got involved with student startup eReuse Inc. – a program aiming to reduce e-waste in the environment – she didn’t realise it would inform the path her studies and career would eventually take.

    Charlotte, a UNSW alumna who completed her degree in environmental engineering in 2017, now works as a sustainability adviser at an up-and-coming sustainability consultancy, Edge Environment.

    She says working on the eReuse project enabled her to see everything she was learning in engineering in a new light.

    “To be honest, I may not have found a path in engineering if I hadn’t worked on this project,” Charlotte says of eReuse.

    “I really came to appreciate the skillset I gained from studying environmental engineering and I found my path through discovering that I could be an engineer and focus on less traditional engineering problems like environmental degradation and social inequality.”

    eReuse aims to “turn 21st Century trash into refurbished donatable treasure” by salvaging old computers destined for landfill to be refurbished and donated to socio-economically disadvantaged groups in the community. It is the first program of its kind to be run in an Australian university setting.

    Charlotte was lead author on a research paper titled “Social and intuitional factors affecting sustainability innovation in universities: A computer re-use perspective”, published recently in the Journal of Cleaner Production. The paper examined the work the group did in establishing a system and process for computer re-use at the university while providing community groups with functional, refurbished computers.

    Donations

    Between 2014 and 2017, the group donated more than 100 computers to such groups. Recipients of the machines included the Junction Neighbourhood Centre Maroubra, Mission Australia (Surry Hills), Barnados Australia and even an overseas client in the African Youth Initiatives Centre in Ghana.

    Initially the program was born out of a student society called Enactus that Charlotte joined earlier in her studies at UNSW.

    “Enactus UNSW had a focus on social entrepreneurship,” she says.

    “It helped me to see the link between my engineering knowledge, and the business world and its associated frameworks and skill sets, of which I had little to no knowledge.

    “I learned vital skills about how to create and run a business from it – which has really helped me as a consultant and in my sustainability career, as my work is often focused on change management in large businesses.”

    Valuable experience

    Charlotte says her honours thesis, which she devoted to the eReuse program, and the recently published paper gave her an understanding of the steps needed to make organisations shift to more sustainable pathways.

    “What was captured in the study was a model for sustainability innovation that we demonstrated at UNSW, which can be applied to other organisations, particularly complex organisations such as multinational businesses and government departments.

    “What I mean by sustainability innovation is the shift of both culture and operations onto a model that better addresses social, economic and environmental aspects in a systematic way,” she says.

    In her present work, Charlotte is modelling the life-cycle environmental impacts of products like concrete and trains, to help manufacturers understand and communicate the environmental impact of their supply chain and processes.

    “I’m also working on implementing sustainability on major infrastructure projects, like Sydney Metro Northwest and Inland Rail (Parkes to Narromine package),” she says.

    Back to uni

    Looking ahead, Charlotte can imagine a return to tertiary education, but on the other side of the lectern.

    “I would love to be an academic and introduce a more self-conscious strain to engineering education,” she says.

    “As engineers, we work with models and modelling techniques all the time, yet we don’t seem to teach young engineers to be reflective about the ‘model’ or ‘system’ called society and the body politic that we’re a part of.

    “As engineers, we should be considering the place of engineering in society, how technology affects both our culture and the environment, and the impact engineering advice and recommendations makes within decision-making in large organisations and in politics. I think this would go a long way to addressing our current sustainability problems.”

    Emerging discipline

    Charlotte says she originally had doubts about environmental engineering because she left school with a background in humanities, while jobs in this emerging area did not appear as well defined as traditional engineering jobs.

    “Originally, I found environmental engineering so daunting because I hadn’t studied science past Year 10 and suddenly I needed to study physics, chemistry and biology/ecology at a university level,” she says.

    “I was also worried about finding a job with an environmental engineering degree because it’s such a new discipline. A lecturer in my school, Stephen Moore, helped me understand what it means to be an environmental engineer and helped me transfer from civil to environmental engineering.

    “Looking back, I realise that it’s actually exciting to have an environmental engineering degree because it’s an emerging field and there isn’t really one definition for what it is.

    “And you get to help define it by the way you choose to use it.”

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    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 1:57 pm on April 13, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , EHT reveals image of Messier 87, Katie Bouman-Harvard Smithsonian Observatory for Astrophysics-headed to Caltech, , Women in STEM   

    From The New York Times: Women in STEM-“How Katie Bouman Accidentally Became the Face of the Black Hole Project” 

    New York Times

    From The New York Times

    April 11, 2019
    Sarah Mervosh

    As the first-ever picture of a black hole was unveiled this week, another image began making its way around the internet: a photo of a young scientist, clasping her hands over her face and reacting with glee to an image of an orange ring of light, circling a deep, dark abyss.

    The first image of a black hole, Messier 87 Credit Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, via NSF 4.10.19

    It was a photo too good not to share. The scientist, Katie Bouman, a postdoctoral fellow who contributed to the project, became an instant hero for women and girls in STEM, a welcome symbol in a world hungry for representation.

    Katie Bouman-Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Headed to Caltech.

    Public figures from Washington to Hollywood learned her name. And some advocates, familiar with how history can write over the contributions of women, quickly moved to make sure she received the recognition she deserved.

    Katie Bouman of Harvard Smithsonian Observatory for Astrophysics, headed to Caltech, with EHT hard drives from Messier 87

    In their eagerness to celebrate her, however, many nonscientists on social media overstated her role in what was a group effort by hundreds of people, creating an exaggerated impression as the photo was shared and reshared.

    As Dr. Bouman herself was quick to point out, she was by no means solely responsible for the discovery, which was a result of a worldwide collaboration among scientists who worked together to create the image from a network of radio antennas.

    The project, led by Shep Doeleman, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was the work of more than 200 researchers. About 40 of them were women, according to Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative.

    “There are women involved in every single step of this amazing project,” said Sara Issaoun, 24, a graduate student at Radboud University in the Netherlands who worked on the research. “As a woman in STEM myself, it’s good to have role models out there who young girls and young boys can look up to.”

    But Ms. Issaoun warned against a “lone-wolf success” narrative. “The diversity and group effort and the breadth of our collaboration, I think, is worth celebration,” she said.

    To capture the image of a black hole — a mysterious phenomenon long thought to be unseeable — the scientists used eight radio observatories across the globe to observe the galaxy on and off for 10 days in April 2017. Then they embarked on the painstaking effort to process enormous amounts of data and map it into an image.

    Dr. Bouman, who will soon become an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology, indeed played a significant role in the imaging process, which involved researchers breaking up into teams to map the data and compare and test the images they created.

    While she led the development of an algorithm to take a picture of a black hole, an effort that was the subject of a TED Talk she gave in 2016, her colleagues said that technique was not ultimately used to create this particular image.

    After the burst of publicity spread her smiling face across Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and news sites around the globe, Dr. Bouman did not initially respond to requests for comment Thursday. In a Facebook post, she said: “No one algorithm or person made this image. It required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe.”

    “It has been truly an honor,” she added, “and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with you all.”

    In a text message late Thursday night, Dr. Bouman said that she had to turn her phone off because she was getting so many messages. “I’m so glad that everyone is as excited as we are and people are finding our story inspirational,’’ she wrote. “However, the spotlight should be on the team and no individual person. Focusing on one person like this helps no one, including me.”

    Other women on the project also celebrated this week as years of hard work were finally made public.

    “Honestly, it was a dream come true,” Sandra Bustamante, a telescope instrumentalist who worked on the project, said in an interview this week.

    Feryal Ozel, an astronomy and astrophysics professor at the University of Arizona who was on the science council for the project, first published a paper on black hole imaging in 2000. She called the unveiling “a sweet moment that’s been a long time in the making.”

    In an interview on Thursday, Dr. Ozel said that it was exciting to see people interested in the role of women in science, but she highlighted the contributions of other women and men. That included one of her male graduate students, who took multiple trips to the South Pole, where one of the telescopes was located.

    “I think giving credit to any single individual — whether this is a woman or man, young or old — harms the collaboration,” she said.

    Penn Sheppard, who works with Girls Inc., an organization that empowers young women and offers after-school programming to support girls learning in science, technology, engineering and math, said that Dr. Bouman’s story resonated in an industry in which women are underrepresented — and in a world in which their scientific contributions have historically gone unacknowledged.

    “It was an opportunity to see an accomplished woman play a significant role, and being acknowledged in that role,” she said. “That’s significant because girls and young boys are starting to see that women are scientists — not just you can be, but you are.”

    Ms. Issaoun said she also wanted to celebrate the success of a diverse collaboration of scientists, but she said she understood why the photo of Dr. Bouman went viral.

    “We love this photo too, because she looks so happy,” said Ms. Issaoun, who said she got shivers when she saw the image of a black hole. “I think her expression really captures how we all felt when we first saw it.”

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
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