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  • richardmitnick 9:30 am on January 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Coral reef resilience", , , , , Katie Barott, , , Women in STEM   

    From Penn Today: Women in STEM-“Coral reef resilience” Katie Barott 

    From Penn Today

    January 8, 2020
    Katherine Unger Baillie
    Eric Sucar, Photographer

    With coral reefs under threat from climate change, marine biologist Katie Barott of the School of Arts and Sciences is examining the strategies that may enable corals to bounce back from warming temperatures and acidifying oceans.

    Marine biologist Katie Barott investigates the strategies certain corals may use to tolerate the warmer temperatures and acidic waters that climate change is bringing to the world’s oceans.

    Mass coral-bleaching events, which occur when high ocean temperatures cause coral to expel the algae that dwell inside them, are a relatively recent phenomenon. The first widespread bleaching event occurred in 1983, the year before Penn marine biologist Katie Barott was born.

    The next one happened about 15 years later. And the intervals between them continue to shrink. In 2014, one bleaching event in Hawaii was so extreme that it carried over to affect corals into a second summer.

    “They’re increasing in frequency, getting closer and closer,” says Barott, an assistant professor in the School of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Biology. “And the ocean temperature is getting warmer and warmer, so the severity is increasing, too.”

    Yet as dramatic as the phenomenon sounds—and appears—coral bleaching does not always equate with coral death. Algae can return to corals once ocean temperatures cool, and scientists have observed formerly white corals regain their color in subsequent seasons.

    In a multifaceted research project funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Barott and members of her lab are studying the mechanisms by which corals withstand the effects of climate change, which include not only the warmer temperatures that trigger bleaching but also acidification of ocean waters, a slower-moving creep with subtle yet significant consequences.

    Bleached finger corals reside directly next to other corals that have withstood a bleaching event in Kaneohe Bay in Hawaii. Barrot’s research attempts to untangle some of the factors that cause some corals to be particularly hardy or resilient. (Image: Katie Barott)

    Barott’s work, based in Kaneohe Bay on Oahu, Hawaii, focuses on two of the bay’s dominant coral species: rice coral (Montipora capitata) and finger coral (Porites compressa). Barott began working there during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, conducting studies on which the new work is based.

    Climate threats

    Corals are invertebrate animals that live in large colonies, together forming intricate skeletons of varied shapes. To obtain food, they rely heavily on a symbiotic relationship with algae, which establish themselves within the corals’ tissue and produce food and energy for the coral through photosynthesis. A change in temperature or pH can upset this partnership, triggering the algae’s expulsion.

    “That leaves the coral essentially starving,” Barott says.

    Since her postdoctoral days, Barott has been working with colleagues in Hawaii to monitor coral patches. After the 2014-15 bleaching event, researchers were surprised and heartened to find certain patches of corals didn’t succumb to the bleaching, even those located directly adjacent to stark white corals. And many of those that did bleach bounced back within a month or so of the onset of cooling autumn temperatures.

    At the time Barott was writing her NSF grant application, she planned to compare the differences between bleached and unbleached corals. Yet just as the grant kicked off in July, another bleaching event was unfolding in Hawaii.

    “That gave us this unexpected opportunity to go back to those same colonies to see if the ones that bleached last time were the same ones that bleached again this past fall,” she says. “And more or less we saw the same patterns: The ones that bleached last time bleached again this time and vice versa. That gives us compelling evidence that there’s something specific about these resilient individuals that is make them resist bleaching, even in very warm temperatures.”

    Mechanisms of resilience

    While high temperatures triggers bleaching, acidity plays a key role in coral vitality as well. Lower seawater pH impedes corals’ ability to build their calcium carbonite skeletons, resulting in weaker, more fragile structures.
    Barott collects finger corals to take back for further analysis. Her research projects include investigations of the algae that lives symbiotically with the coral, and the bacteria that compose the corals’ microbiome. (Image: Courtesy of Katie Barott)

    In earlier work, Barott had discovered that corals possess a pH “sensor” that can respond to changes in their environment. And, indeed, sea water acidity can vary widely in the course of a day, a season, or a year, swinging as much as 0.75 pH units in a day. Perhaps, Barott hypothesizes, coral have molecular “tools” that they use to withstand these daily fluctuations that they could also employ to contend with the gradual ocean acidification that is occurring as the concentration of CO2 in sea water rises.

    Barott collects finger corals to take back for further analysis. Her research projects include investigations of the algae that lives symbiotically with the coral, and the bacteria that compose the corals’ microbiome. (Image: Courtesy of Katie Barott)

    “Maybe there are some reefs that are going to be more resistant to ocean acidification because they’re used to seeing these really large daily swings and are sort of primed to deal with that challenge,” she says.

    She’s also curious about how bleaching impacts corals’ ability to tolerate pH changes more generally. Using molecular tools, she and her students are investigating the epigenetic changes that affect how genes are “read” and translated into functional proteins in the organisms. Such changes could occur much more rapidly than coral, a long-lived species, could evolve to deal with a changing environment.

    In a variety of projects, the scientists are examining differences between species of coral, between species of the algal symbionts, and between populations located in different places in the Kaneohe lagoon.

    Early results suggest differences between the rice and finger coral in their strategies for managing bleaching.

    “One really resists the bleaching, but if it does succumb then it fares a lot worse than the one that bleaches more readily,” says Barott. “That one seems to be more susceptible to losing its symbionts, but if it does it recovers fast and has lower overall mortality.”

    Planning for the future

    Barott’s group is collaborating with others in Hawaii to see if hardier corals could be propagated to rebuild damaged reef communities.

    “We’re at the proof-of-principle stage,” she says, “where we’re trying to figure out if some of these differences are heritable.”

    Tank experiments in Barott’s lab in Philadelphia complement field work done in Oahu, Hawaii.

    While some of that work is being completed in Hawaii, carefully tended tanks in the basement of the Leidy Laboratories of Biology allow Barott and her students to complete experiments in Philadelphia on corals. Using both corals shipped from the field and sea anemones, a useful stand-in for corals due to their ease of care and rapid reproduction, the lab has been tracking the impacts of temperature and pH stress on energy systems, genetics, and even the microbiome of corals, the bacteria with which the corals and algae cohabitate.

    “The surface of coral is analogous to the lining of your lungs or intestines,” Barott says. “It’s covered in cilia, it’s got a mucus layer over the top of it, and there are tons and tons of bacteria that live in that mucus layer. We think those bacteria are playing a role in the health of the coral, but we don’t know if it’s playing a role in their temperature sensitivity, so that’s something we’ll be looking at.”

    With this “whole organism” approach, Barott’s aims to inject some optimism and scientific rigor into what is a largely dire outlook for corals worldwide. Encouragingly, she notes, this year’s bleaching event in Hawaii was much less severe than predicted, and corals that had bleached in 2014 were less strongly affected by this year’s event.

    “These reefs are facing a lot of impacts, not just from climate but also from local development, sedimentation, nutrient pollution,” she says. “Our hope is to predict how corals will respond to these challenges and maybe one day use our findings to assist them in rebuilding resilient reefs.”

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:24 am on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , Women in STEM   

    From Symmetry: Women in STEM -“Vera Rubin, giant of astronomy” 

    Symmetry Mag
    From Symmetry<

    Kathryn Jepsen

    Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope will be named for an influential astronomer who left the field better than she found it.

    The LSST Vera C. Rubin Observatory

    LSST telescope, Vera C. Rubin Observatory Telescope currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

    LSST Data Journey, Illustration by Sandbox Studio, Chicago with Ana Kova

    The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a flagship astronomy and astrophysics project currently under construction on a mountaintop in Chile, will be named for astronomer Vera Rubin, a key figure in the history of the search for dark matter.

    Fritz Zwicky discovered Dark Matter when observing the movement of the Coma Cluster., Vera Rubin a Woman in STEM denied the Nobel, did most of the work on Dark Matter.

    Fritz Zwicky from http:// palomarskies.blogspot.com

    Coma cluster via NASA/ESA Hubble

    Astronomer Vera Rubin at the Lowell Observatory in 1965, worked on Dark Matter (The Carnegie Institution for Science)

    Vera Rubin measuring spectra, worked on Dark Matter (Emilio Segre Visual Archives AIP SPL)

    Vera Rubin, with Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM) image tube spectrograph attached to the Kitt Peak 84-inch telescope, 1970. https://home.dtm.ciw.edu

    The LSST, or Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is to be named the Vera C. Rubin Observatory by an act of the U.S. Congress.

    Dark Matter Research

    Universe map Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey

    Scientists studying the cosmic microwave background hope to learn about more than just how the universe grew—it could also offer insight into dark matter, dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.

    Dark matter cosmic web and the large-scale structure it forms The Millenium Simulation, V. Springel et al

    Dark Matter Particle Explorer China

    DEAP Dark Matter detector, The DEAP-3600, suspended in the SNOLAB deep in Sudbury’s Creighton Mine

    LBNL LZ Dark Matter project at SURF, Lead, SD, USA

    Inside the ADMX experiment hall at the University of Washington Credit Mark Stone U. of Washington. Axion Dark Matter Experiment

    The LSST collaboration announced the new name at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu on Monday evening, in conjunction with US funding agencies the Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

    Scheduled to begin operation in late 2022, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory will undertake a decade-long survey of the sky using an 8.4-meter telescope and a 3200-megapixel camera to study, among other things, the invisible material Rubin is best known for bringing into the realm of accepted theory.

    Rubin was a role model, a mentor, and a boundary-breaker fueled by a true love of science and the stars. “For me, doing astronomy is incredibly great fun,” she said in a 1989 interview with physicist and writer Alan Lightman. “It’s just an incredible joy to get up every morning and come to work and, in some much larger framework, not even really quite know what it is I’m going to be doing.”

    Between the Lightman interview and An Interesting Voyage, a biography she wrote in 2010 for the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, among other things, she left behind a detailed record of the story of her life.

    A curious child

    Rubin’s father, Pesach Kobchefski (later known as Philip Cooper), was born in Lithuania. Her mother, Rose Applebaum, was a second-generation American born to Bessarabian parents in Philadelphia. Rubin’s parents met at work at the Bell Telephone Company. They married and raised two children, Vera and her older sister, Ruth.

    Rubin was born in 1928. She wrote that she remembered growing up “amid a cheery scatter of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins… largely shielded from the financial difficulties” of the Great Depression. Ruth and Vera shared a room, with Vera’s bed against a window with a clear view of the north sky. “Soon it was more interesting to watch the stars than to sleep,” Rubin wrote.

    Her parents encouraged her curiosity. Her mother gave her written permission at an early age to check out books from the “12 and over” section of the library, and her father helped her build a (rather so-so) homemade telescope. “My parents were very, very supportive,” Rubin said in the interview with Lightman, “except that they didn’t like me to stay up all night.”

    Rubin’s teachers were not universally as encouraging. Her high school physics teacher, she wrote, “did not know how to include the few young girls in the class, so he chose to ignore us.” Still, Rubin knew she wanted to go into astronomy. “I didn’t know a single astronomer,” she said, “but I just knew that was what I wanted to do.”

    She did know about at least one female astronomer: Maria Mitchell, the first female professional astronomer in the United States. From 1865 to 1888, Mitchell taught at Vassar College in New York and served as director of Vassar College Observatory.

    Looking to follow in her footsteps, Rubin applied to Vassar. She was accepted with a necessary scholarship. Rubin said that when she told the high school physics teacher about it, he replied, “‘As long as you stay away from science, you should be okay.’”

    She graduated in three years as the only astronomy major in her class.

    A family effort

    Rubin spent summers in Washington, DC, working at the Naval Research Laboratory. The summer of 1947, her parents introduced her to Robert (Bob) Rubin. He was training to be an officer in the US Navy and studying chemistry at Cornell University.

    The two married in 1948. She was 19 and he was 21. Vera had been accepted to Harvard University, which was well known for its astronomy department, but she decided to join her husband at Cornell instead.

    Rubin completed her master’s thesis just before giving birth to her first child, and she gave a talk on her research at the 1950 meeting of the American Astronomical Society just after. Her adviser had said it made more sense for him to give the talk, as he was already a member of AAS and she would be a new mother, but Rubin insisted she would do it.

    “We had no car,” Rubin wrote. “My parents drove from Washington, DC, to Ithaca, then crossed the snowy New York hills with Bob, me and their first grandchild, ‘thereby aging 20 years,’ my father later insisted.”

    She gave a 10-minute talk on her study of the velocity distribution of the galaxies that at that time had published velocities. It solicited replies from several “angry-sounding men,” along with pioneering astronomer Martin Schwarzschild, who, Rubin wrote, kindly “said what you say to a young student: ‘This is very interesting, and when there are more data, we will know more.’”

    For a few months after the experience, Rubin stayed home with her newborn son. But she couldn’t keep away from the science. “I would push David to the playground, sit him in the sandbox, and read The Astrophysical Journal,” Rubin wrote.

    With her husband’s encouragement, she enrolled in the astronomy PhD program at Georgetown University. Her classes took place at night, twice per week. Those nights, between 1952 and 1954, Rubin’s mother babysat David (and, not long after, also her daughter, Judy) while Bob drove her to the observatory and waited to take her back home, eating his dinner in the car. In astronomy, “women generally required more luck and perseverance than men did,” Rubin wrote. “It helped to have supportive parents and a supportive husband.”

    PhD and beyond

    Theoretical physicist and cosmologist George Gamow—known for his contributions to developing the Big Bang theory, among other foundational work—heard about Rubin’s AAS talk and began asking her questions, Rubin wrote. One question—“Is there a scale length in the distribution of galaxies?”—so intrigued her that she decided to take it on for her thesis. Gamow served as her advisor.

    Rubin wrote that when she sent her research to The Astrophysical Journal in 1954, then-editor and later Nobel Laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar rejected it, saying he wanted her to wait until his student finished his work on the same subject. She did not wait, publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences instead. (A later editor of Astrophysical Journal asked her to send him Chandrasekhar’s letter as proof, and she wrote, “I refused, telling him to look it up in his files.”)

    In 1955, Georgetown offered Rubin a research position, which soon became a teaching position as well. She stayed there for 10 years.

    In 1962, Rubin taught a graduate course in statistical astronomy with six students, five who worked for the US Naval Observatory and one who worked for NASA. “Due to their jobs, the students were experts in star catalogs,” Rubin wrote, “so I gave the students (plus me as a student) a research problem: Can we use cataloged stars to determine a rotation curve for stars distant from the center of our [g]alaxy?”

    The group completed the paper, “some of it finished by seven of us working around my large kitchen table, long into the night,” Rubin wrote, and they submitted it to The Astrophysical Journal.

    The editor called to say he would accept the paper but that he would not take the then-unusual step of publishing the names of the students, Rubin wrote. When Rubin replied that she would then withdraw the paper, however, he changed his mind.

    Rubin wrote that she received many negative “and some very unpleasant” responses to the paper, but that it continued to be referenced every few years, even as she was writing in 2010. As she pointed out in her article, “[t]his was my first flat rotation curve”—a result she would see repeated in what would become her most famous publication.

    During the 1963-1964 school year, Bob took a sabbatical so Vera could move the family to San Diego and work with married couple Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge. With two other scientists, they had in 1957 published the seminal paper explaining how thermonuclear reactions in stars could transform a universe originally made up only of hydrogen, helium and lithium into one that could support life. With the Burbidges, Rubin traveled to both Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and McDonald Observatory in Texas.

    More than three decades later, in letter to Margaret Burbidge on her 80th birthday, Rubin described what the scientist had meant to her: “Did the words ‘role model’ and ‘mentor’ exist then? I think they did not. But for most of the women that followed you into astronomical careers, these were the roles you filled for us.”

    What Rubin best remembers from when she first arrived in San Diego, she wrote, “was my elation because you took me seriously and were interested in what I had to say…

    “From you we have learned that a woman too can rise to great heights as an astronomer, and that it’s all right to be charming, gracious, brilliant, and to be concerned for others as we make our way in the world of science.”

    The view from Palomar

    Caltech Palomar Hale Telescope, located in San Diego County, California, US, at 1,712 m (5,617 ft)

    In 1964, Rubin and her family (which now included four children, between ages 4 and 13) returned home. Shortly thereafter, Vera and Bob took off again for the meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Hamburg. (“Fortunately, my parents enjoyed being with their grandchildren,” Rubin wrote.)

    On the last evening of the conference, influential astronomer Allan Sandage, who in 1958 had published the first good estimate of the Hubble constant, asked Rubin if she were interested in observing on Palomar Mountain at the Carnegie Institution’s 200-inch telescope. It was a telescope, located on a mountain northeast of San Diego, that women had officially been prohibited from using (though it was a “known secret” that both Margaret and Geoffrey Burbidge had observed there together as postgraduate students). “Of course, I said yes,” Rubin wrote.

    Rubin would be observing on the same mountain where, in 1933, astronomer Fritz Zwicky [above] made a startling discovery. He noticed that the galaxies in the Coma Cluster were moving too quickly—so quickly that they should have broken apart. Judging by the mass of their visible matter, they should not have had the gravitational pull to hold together.

    He concluded that the cluster must be more massive than it appeared, and that most of this mass must come from matter that could not be seen. The Swiss astronomer called the source of the missing mass dunkle Materie, or dark matter. He presented this idea to the Swiss Physical Society, but it did not catch on. (He made several other big splashes in astronomy, though.)

    On Rubin’s first night at Palomar in December 1965, clouds prevented anyone from observing, so another observer took her on an unofficial tour of the facilities. The tour included the single available toilet, labeled “MEN.”

    On Rubin’s next visit, “I drew a skirted woman and pasted her up on the door,” she wrote. The third time she came to observe, heating had been added to the observing room, along with a gender-neutral bathroom.

    The world’s best spectrograph

    In 1965, Rubin decided to prioritize observing over teaching. She asked her colleague Bernie Burke—famous for co-discovering the first detection of radio noise from another planet, Jupiter—for a job at the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. Burke invited her to the DTM’s community lunch. And that’s where she met astronomer Kent Ford.

    Working over the previous decade, Ford had pioneered the use of highly sensitive light detectors called photomultiplier tubes for astronomical observation. “Kent Ford had built a very exceptional spectrograph,” Rubin said. “He probably had the best spectrograph anywhere. He had a spectrograph that could do things that no other spectrographs could do.”

    Rubin got the job at DTM, becoming the first female scientist on its staff. Using Ford’s spectrograph on the telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona [above], Ford and Rubin could observe objects that were not otherwise detectable. Among the astronomers who noticed was Jim Peebles, winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize for Physics.

    By 1968, Rubin and Ford had published nine papers. “It was an exciting time,” Rubin wrote, “but I was not comfortable with the very rapid pace of the competition. Even very polite phone calls asking me which galaxies I was studying (so as not to overlap) made me uncomfortable.”

    So she decided to go back to a subject she had previously dabbled in: the velocity of stars and regions of ionized hydrogen in Messier 31, the Andromeda galaxy. “I decided to pick a problem that I could go observing and make headway on, hopefully a problem that people would be interested in, but not so interested [in] that anyone would bother me before I was done,” Rubin said.

    Astronomers had been studying the spectra of light from Andromeda since at least January 1899, but no one had taken a look with an instrument as advanced as Ford’s.

    One astronomer had gotten a better look than most, though. In the 1940s, astronomer Walter Baade had taken advantage of wartime blackout rules—meant to make it difficult for enemy planes to hit targets during World War II—to observe Andromeda from Mount Wilson Observatory northeast of Los Angeles.

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

    He resolved the stars at the center of the galaxy for the first time and identified 688 emission regions worthy of study.

    Not knowing this, Rubin and Ford set out to do the same for themselves. They spent a frustrating night taking turns at the US Naval Observatory telescope in Arizona, huddled next to a small heater in negative 20 degree cold, before deciding they needed a new tactic.

    US Naval Observatory telescope in Arizona

    On their way out in the morning, they ran into Naval Observatory Director Gerald Kron. “He took us into his warm office, opened a large cabinet and showed us copies of Baade’s many plates of stars in Messier 31!” Rubin wrote. Rubin and Ford obtained copies of the images from the Carnegie Institute and went to work.

    A rotation curveball

    Rubin and Ford made their observations at Lowell Observatory[above] and Kitt Peak.

    Kitt Peak National Observatory of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers 55 mi west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft)

    “On a typical clear night we would obtain four to five spectra,” Rubin wrote. “The surprises came very quickly.”

    In our solar system, planets closest to the center are the fastest-moving, as they are most affected by the gravitational pull of the sun. Mercury, the closest, moves about 1.6 times as rapidly as Earth, whereas Neptune, the farthest, moves at less than 0.2 times Earth’s speed.

    “The expectation was that galaxies behaved the same way, in that stars farthest from the massive center would be moving most slowly,” Rubin wrote.

    But that’s not what they found. The rotation curves were flat, meaning that objects closer to the center of Andromeda were moving at the same speed as objects closer to the outskirts. “This was discovered over the course of about 4 ice cream cones that first night,” Rubin wrote, “as I alternated between developing the plates and eating (Kent would be starting the next observation).”

    This time, Rubin said, people believed the data. “It just piled up too fast. Soon there were 20, then 40, then 60 rotation curves, and they were all flat… And it was just a joy to have that kind of a program, after a program where you had to go through deep analysis and everybody doubted the answer.”

    But what did the flat rotation curves mean? The popularly accepted answer is that the way the galaxies in Andromeda move is influenced by dark matter.

    If a galaxy is formed in the center of a disk of invisible dark matter, the gravitational pull of the dark matter will affect how quickly each of its parts moves, flattening the rotation curves.

    Theorists Peebles, Jeremiah P. Ostriker, Amos Yahil and others had predicted the existence of dark matter independent of Rubin and Ford’s findings, Rubin said. “The ideas had been around for a while… But the observations fit in so well, [since] there was already a framework, so some people embraced the observations very enthusiastically.”

    Rubin was agnostic about the idea of dark matter and wrote that she would be delighted if the explanation actually came in the form of a new understanding of how gravity works on the cosmic scale. “One needs to keep an open mind in seeking solutions,” she wrote.

    A scientific legacy

    Rubin continued her work, receiving recognition for her contributions in various ways.

    From 1972 to 1977 she served as associate editor of The Astronomical Journal, and from 1977 to 1982 she served as associate editor of Astrophysical Journal Letters. In 1993, she received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton. In 1994 she received the Dickson Prize in Science from Carnegie-Mellon University and the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship from the American Astronomical Society. In 1996 she became the second woman to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in London (168 years after the first, Caroline Herschel in 1828). In 1996 President Clinton nominated her to provide input to Congress as a member of the National Science Board for a term of six years.

    In 1997 she and a few other members of the board were invited to visit the McMurdo research station at the South Pole. Rubin wrote that she was asked if she would spend her time at McMurdo with the astronomers. “With a little embarrassment, I asked if that meant that I would miss everything else, the penguins, the mountains and all the other events,” she wrote. “Without much difficulty, I voted for the penguins.”

    In 2004 the National Academy of Sciences awarded Rubin the James Craig Watson Medal for “her seminal observations of dark matter in galaxies… and for generous mentoring of young astronomers, men and women.”

    Rubin made it a priority to listen to and encourage students and up-and-coming astronomers, and she was especially interested in improving the chances for women in science.

    Asked by Lightman, “Do you think that your experience in science has been different because you are a woman rather than a man?” she replied, “Of course. Yes, of course. But I’m the wrong person to ask that question. The tragedy in that question is all the women who would have liked to have become astronomers and didn’t.”

    Rubin shared her love of astronomy far and wide. “We are fortunate to live in an era when it is possible to learn so much about the [u]niverse,” she wrote. “But I envy our children, our grandchildren, and their children. They will know more than any of us do now, and they may even be able to travel there!”

    All four of the Rubin children have gone into science.

    Her son Allan, quoted in the 2010 article, remembered his parents often spent evenings “with their work spread out along the very long dining room table, which wasn’t used for eating unless a lot of company was expected,” he said. “At some point I grew old enough to realize that if what they really wanted to do after dinner was the same thing they did all day at work, then they must have pretty good jobs.”

    Rubin’s daughter followed Vera into the field of astronomy, initially hooked by a lesson her mother taught on black holes. Over several decades, Judy has collaborated on numerous publications and attended meetings around the world with her mom.

    Rubin died in 2016 at the age of 88. Her name lives on in the AAS Vera Rubin Early Career Prize, Vera Rubin Ridge on the planet Mars, Asteroid 5726 Rubin and, now, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory on Cerro Pachón

    See the full article here .


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    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.

  • richardmitnick 9:49 am on December 31, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Deana Crouser, , R/V Rachel Carson, , Women in STEM   

    From University of Washington: Women in STEM-“Sea lessons” Deana Crouser 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    Originally published March 2019

    Oceanography major Deana Crouser, ’19

    RV Rachel Carson. Bennetblake

    Oceanography major Deana Crouser, ’19, did more than just get her feet wet on the R/V Rachel Carson. She helped peer into the future of our oceans.

    At 5:24 a.m., the R/V Carson’s engine has slowed to an idle. Under the light of a full moon, UW oceanography student Deana Crouser helps researchers lift up a drifter — a floating contraption fitted with a waterproof infrared camera — over the bow and into Hood Canal. Like that of the researchers, the drifter’s work has just begun. As the boat motors on, the drifter’s underwater camera begins capturing videos of tiny animals that play a crucial part in the marine food web: zooplankton.

    No longer adrift

    A year ago, Crouser would never have imagined herself filming marine animals in the dark. At the time, she was a chemical engineering major struggling to figure out how to apply her education to helping the environment, a cause she had always believed in. Then she took an introduction to oceanography course.

    “It felt like I was in a TED Talk every time I went to class,” says Crouser, now a senior. “The lab is very hands-on. You have to do lots of experiments, and then you go on a day trip on the R/V Carson. Once I did that, I was all in.”

    After changing her major to oceanography within the College of the Environment, Crouser landed a summer internship, funded by the National Science Foundation, that culminated in this research cruise. For several weeks beforehand, she spent time in the lab of oceanography professor Julie Keister, helping investigate the relationship between local water conditions and zooplankton populations.

    It’s been a steep learning curve, but Crouser embraces it. “There’s always something to look forward to,” she says. “I feel like this internship gave me life again.”

    Another aspect of her Husky Experience also helps Crouser feel hopeful about the future: her commitment to encouraging other women and people of color to explore STEM careers. She’s the outreach director for WChE (Women in Chemical Engineering) and the webmaster and historian for SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science). Much of her involvement comes from wanting to show people who look like her that they can be scientists, too.

    “Even if I don’t know exactly what I’m doing, I still need to show up and show other people that they can be where I’m standing,” she says.

    Tiny animals, big impact

    Crouser admits that when she started her internship, “I didn’t know the name of one kind of zooplankton. I didn’t even know where they were in the food web.” Now she grasps their immense importance.

    Zooplankton spend their lives evading predators and searching for food — usually phytoplankton, the microscopic algae that are the linchpin of all ocean life. Where phytoplankton bloom, so do zooplankton; and where zooplankton thrive, so do larger marine animals, from salmon to orca whales.

    What will happen to zooplankton as our oceans continue to warm and absorb human-produced carbon dioxide, growing more acidic and hypoxic (low in oxygen)? And if they adjust their behavior because of these factors, what happens to the animals that feed on them?

    These are big questions with big ramifications. To help peer into the future, Keister and fellow UW School of Oceanography Professor Daniel Grünbaum are starting very, very small.

    A backyard laboratory

    Professor Julie Keister stacks samples from different depths to show how zooplankton migrate in the water column.

    For 10 days in September, Keister and Grünbaum cruised around Hood Canal on the R/V Carson, researching how zooplankton change their behavior in response to environmental conditions. Assisting them were Crouser, oceanography graduate students Sasha Seroy and Amy Wyeth, and volunteer Juhi LaFuente.

    Part of Puget Sound, Hood Canal is a nearly 70-mile-long glacial fjord that runs down the east side of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, then crooks back to the northeast. Its waters are naturally more acidic than the open ocean’s, and its oxygen content drops in late summer and fall.

    “Puget Sound is like a mini ocean,” says Keister. “It’s incredibly diverse oceanographically and biologically over small scales, so it’s really easy to study important processes here.”

    Adds Crouser, “If you want to find out how ocean acidification and hypoxia affect everything from the bottom of the food web up, this is the place to do it.”

    Lessons from the microscopic

    Back on the R/V Carson, Crouser and Seroy are labeling containers full of specimens that were just hauled up from different depths.

    One contains a thick soup of tiny krill and zooplankton. Another sample, from shallower water, is sparsely populated. It’s a vertical snapshot of a mass migration: Zooplankton surface at night to eat phytoplankton, then head back to deeper, darker water to avoid being seen by predators in the daylight.

    Professor Daniel Grünbaum assembles infrared cameras to film zooplankton in dark waters.

    Across a narrow passageway, Grünbaum is working at a table covered in wires, housings, infrared cameras and microcontrollers (small computers). He holds a microcontroller that will soon be attached to a drifter. “The technology is making this research easier, and the engineering is getting better and better,” he says.

    That’s good, because in addition to tracking the movements of large zooplankton populations, he and Keister are observing individual zooplankton in their natural habitat with the help of infrared video cameras.

    It’s hard to fathom that the behavior of a single microscopic creature might give us insight into the future of the Puget Sound and our oceans. But Keister and Grünbaum suspect that zooplankton’s behavior in response to changing environmental conditions may be magnified as they ripple up through the ecosystem.

    “The water in Hood Canal is stratified,” explains Keister, meaning that different depths have widely divergent oxygen and pH levels. “Zooplankton are moving through big differences in conditions as they go up and down.”

    Grünbaum gives an example of what these movements can teach us: If significant populations of zooplankton are able to hide in low-oxygen waters to avoid predators, we may see a drop in salmon populations and an uptick in jellyfish — predators that are better suited to those conditions.

    Whatever the findings, says Keister, “It could have significant implications for the food web.” This includes humans: where we harvest animals, and what we are (or are not) able to catch.

    Graduate student Amy Wyeth rinses off equipment before it is reused on a zooplankton-catching device known as a multinet.

    The ocean of tomorrow

    It’s nearly 2 p.m., and Crouser has helped haul up the last of the drifters. Dozens of containers of specimens await transport to UW labs, where they’ll be studied and added to a host of data from the previous year that may help shed light on the future of our oceans.

    For having been awake since 3 a.m., Crouser is remarkably alert — and optimistic about her place in the future of oceanography, whether by measuring environmental impact or by increasing diversity in STEM professions.

    “My role as a minority in science follows me wherever I go,” she says. “Regardless of what I’m doing, it’s my responsibility to let people see me being a scientist.”

    As she continues on her career path, Crouser faces the reality that tomorrow’s ocean may be starkly different from what she’s known her whole life.

    “There’s a lot at stake when it comes to the ocean,” she says. “It can be sad at times. But schools like this are what give me hope. It’s this research. It’s the UW.”

    The R/V Carson passes under the Fremont Bridge on its way back to the UW.

    The R/V Rachel Carson is a 78-foot research vessel purchased in 2017 with the help of a $1 million donation from William and Beatrice Booth. Beatrice, who earned her master’s in biological oceanography from the UW in 1969, was one of the first women scientists in the graduate program. She devoted much of her life to our oceans, working here as a biological oceanography researcher for 24 years.

    Named after celebrated American conservationist Rachel Carson, the R/V Carson unlocks many possibilities for UW researchers. Compared to its predecessor, the much smaller R/V Barnes — a former tug boat — the R/V Carson was designed as a research ship. With larger lab space, better tools for lowering equipment into water and more space for people to sleep, the ship is much better equipped for multiday trips with more researchers. And, unlike the R/V Barnes, the R/V Carson is capable of traveling offshore for coastal ocean research.

    The R/V Carson also helps connect scientists and students to their nearby waters: It’s available for use by oceanographic researchers and instructors from outside the UW, too.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 1:27 pm on December 16, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Giulia Galli, How to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, , , Women in STEM   

    From University of Chicago: Women in STEM -“Physicist taps quantum mechanics to crack molecular secrets” Giulia Galli 

    U Chicago bloc

    From University of Chicago

    Dec 16, 2019
    Louise Lerner

    Prof. Giulia Galli’s work predicts how to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, such as purifying water.
    Photo by Jean Lachat

    There are few scientists who would describe condensed matter physics—a branch that studies the behavior of solid matter—as “simple.” But to Prof. Giulia Galli, it’s less complex than the problems she works on at the University of Chicago.

    “Problems like water and energy are much more complicated than what I was trained for in condensed matter physics,” she said. “All of my work is driven by problems.”

    It’s complex problems like these that the Pritzker School for Molecular Engineering—the first of its kind to focus on this emerging field—was set up to solve. And it’s the kind of innovative research that Galli, a theorist who uses computational models to figure out the behavior of molecules and materials, is helping tackle through her pioneering work.

    The focus of Galli’s studies is to understand and predict how to harness molecular behavior to improve technology, particularly in the areas of purifying water, speeding up computation and sensing with quantum technology, and perfecting renewable energy technology.

    “Essentially, we predict how atoms arrange themselves,” explained Galli, the Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering at UChicago. “We do this by developing theoretical algorithms and powerful codes and simulations in order to understand the quantum mechanics at play in a given material.”

    For example, her group can use theory to predict which material will make a cheaper solar cell, or suggest a new configuration for a quantum bit made from electron spins. “Energy and water are incredibly important problems—even a small improvement from your science can have a huge impact,” she said. “This is really important to me.”

    One of Galli’s favorite parts of her day is working with her group, including postdoctoral researcher Elizabeth Lee (left) and graduate student Hien Vo (right). Photo by Jean Lachat

    Galli, who also heads the Midwest Integrated Center for Computational Materials, has garnered international recognition for her work in helping shape the field. She recently received the Feynman Theory Prize, an annual honor highlighting extraordinary work in harnessing quantum mechanics for the public interest. It was her fourth such major award in her field this year.

    “It is not difficult to understand why Giulia has been recognized as a scientific leader by a diverse set of scientific organizations,” said Matthew Tirrell, the founding Pritzker director and dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. “She wields powerful and versatile computational tools that she has deployed to learn about many important scientific matters, ranging from how water behaves to materials being explored for quantum device engineering.”

    Deciphering atomic rules

    Quantum mechanics describes the rules of atomic behavior at incredibly tiny scales—a world full of the unexpected, which Galli seeks to explain using computer codes. But the challenge of modeling the interactions between hundreds of thousands of atoms in a material is a Herculean task. Often she uses the Research Computing Center at the University, but for more complex simulations, her team uses the extremely powerful supercomputers at UChicago-affiliated Argonne National Laboratory, where Galli has a joint appointment.

    The simulations may take months, depending on the problem; in fact, that Galli’s group is constantly running simulations on as many machines as they can get ahold of: “We’re running simulations every day, many at the same time. We probably have 15 projects running right now,” she said.

    “The job of a good scientist is to constantly doubt your answers.”
    —Prof. Giulia Galli

    At the same time, she’s usually writing four or five papers at any given time; in between, she’s traveling to conferences, teaching, or working with students and postdoctoral researchers in her group.

    Her field has changed a great deal over the years, as computers and data capacity have improved, but to Galli, it keeps her energized. “The problems are always changing. Nothing is ever boring.”

    Since she moved to the PME from the University of California-Davis, she’s been able to work much more closely with scientists on the experimental side, creating a loop where their experiments validate and explore her theoretical predictions, and her insights suggest new avenues for experiments.

    One such collaborator is David Awschalom, the Liew Family professor in molecular engineering and director of the Chicago Quantum Exchange, who has worked with Galli for years at PME.

    “Giulia’s innovative work on exploring materials for quantum information science and technology is guiding research programs at the University of Chicago and around the world,” said Awschalom. “Her innovative research is based on identifying important problems in materials science, developing a unique theoretical approach that is informed by experimental measurement, and ultimately resolving outstanding questions about the dynamics of complex systems with predictive models.”

    Addressing a ‘data crisis’

    More recently, she’s become interested in addressing a problem in the field of science known as the data reproducibility crisis. All good experiments and calculations have to be able to produce the same results, no matter who’s doing the experiment or carrying out the simulations; but as simulations grow more complex and the amount of data skyrockets, it becomes harder for other scientists to be able to check someone’s work.

    A recent Galli study examined inorganic links between nanoparticles for applications in solar panels and optical devices.
    Illustration by Peter Allen.

    Galli began providing links for interested parties to download the data (and codes) from her work, but that was only a local solution. To address the problem on a larger scale, Galli created a publicly available tool called Qresp that provides a framework for researchers to share their data and workflows, so that others can see how the results were reached—and try to poke holes in it.

    She sees this as essential for science—and for scientists.

    “The job of a good scientist is to constantly doubt your answers,” Galli said. “The minute you get results, you have to think about how to validate them. How to find a different way to evaluate them. To push and challenge yourself. To do what you don’t yet know how to do. That’s what I tell my graduate students.

    “The real job of a scientist is to come up with a way to solve a problem that nobody else knows how to solve. And then to challenge yourself, over and over again, to make sure your solution is correct and robust.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    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 11:35 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Charlotte Sobey, , , Fresh Science competition, , Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM- “Communicating science to a fresh audience” Charlotte Sobey 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    9 December 2019
    Andrew Warren

    When you’re creating a precise catalogue of measurements of our galaxy, you want to make sure people know! Perth-based astronomer Dr Charlotte Sobey is part of a team working on magnetic field mapping. She recently took part in the Fresh Science competition to help communicate her work and amplify her science.

    Postdoctoral researcher and astronomer Charlotte Sobey hanging out in a telescope.

    First, what’s the science?

    Our galaxy’s magnetic field is thousands of times weaker than Earth’s. But it has great significance for tracing the paths of cosmic rays, star formation, and many other astrophysical processes. However, our current knowledge of the Milky Way’s 3-D structure is limited.

    Charlotte and her colleagues used a large radio telescope in Europe called LOFAR (the Low-Frequency Array) to create the most precise measurements to date of our galaxy’s magnetic field in 3-D.

    ASTRON LOFAR Radio Antenna Bank, Netherlands

    We can’t see our whole galaxy from a single place on Earth. So, Charlotte is now completing the map in the Southern Hemisphere. To do this she’s using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope which is led by Curtin University and located at our Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The MWA combines the power of 2048 small antennas into one instrument.

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

    The team chose pulsars (rapidly rotating neutron stars) as the ideal candidate to map the magnetic field. This is because they’re distributed throughout the Milky Way. And dark matter, which is the most dominant material in the galaxy, affects their radio-wave emissions.

    Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell, discovered pulsars with radio astronomy. Jocelyn Bell at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory, Cambridge University, taken for the Daily Herald newspaper in 1968. Denied the Nobel.

    How do you share your science story?

    It’s important for Charlotte and other young researchers to be able to confidently and clearly communicate their work.

    Charlotte recently participated in Fresh Science WA. It’s a national competition helping early career researchers develop their communication and outreach skills through a series of workshops.

    “I applied to Fresh Science because it’s a great way to gain experience in presenting science stories in accessible ways for a variety of media, and to share my recently published results with the public,” Charlotte said.

    “As a researcher in a publicly-funded organisation, I feel it’s important to communicate about recent science results with the community. I hope that these stories connect with people, perhaps inspiring them to learn more about STEM areas or even pursue a STEM-related career or hobby.”

    Charlotte and her dog Kirby at the LOFAR telescope ‘Superterp’ stations near Exloo, Netherlands.

    Finding her voice

    Across the two-day event, Charlotte attended media workshops, learned to pitch stories to journalists and write professional profiles. This training will help her tell her story to all types of media outlets.

    “Talking with journalists helped demystify the news process, and answering their questions helped me to frame my science story. I also gained invaluable experience and confidence by doing practice interviews in a ‘safe space’ with three local journalists from television, radio and print.” Charlotte said.

    “By talking to advisors from a commercialisation program and a public policy institute, I gained new insights into my work. This compelled me to expand my story to include the bigger-picture implications of my work, as well as talking about the future direction.”

    Passing the pub test

    After the pitching workshop, the ‘freshies’ headed down to the pub to complete the final exercise for Fresh Science 2019. Aptly named the pub test.

    “I had to explain my recent work on stage in the time it took for a birthday sparkler to burn out! I’m usually nervous when I have to speak in front of people about my work – in front of colleagues, let alone the general public. But at the end of the two days I felt more prepared, practised, and confident. But still a little nervous!” Charlotte said.

    “Sharing the experience with the other freshies and having the encouragement of the Science in Public staff also made it more social and enjoyable.”

    Charlotte Sobey at Fresh Science 2019 during the pub test. Credit: Ross Swanborough.

    What’s next for Charlotte?

    “Doing Fresh Science has given me a greater understanding of how the media works, and to focus on being able to target my pitch to a specific audience to achieve a specific purpose. And with all the practicing I’m feeling much more confident and looking forward to sharing my story” Charlotte said.

    LOFAR and MWA are stepping stones towards the low-frequency component of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory. SKA will be much larger and more sensitive than any radio telescope ever built.

    SKA Square Kilometer Array

    Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) is a radio telescope array located at Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in the Australian Mid West. ASKAP consists of 36 identical parabolic antennas, each 12 metres in diameter, working together as a single instrument with a total collecting area of approximately 4,000 square metres.

    “My work in the future will focus on building towards doing science with the SKA telescope, which is currently entering the final stages of the planning phase. One long-term goal for SKA science is to revolutionise our understanding of our galaxy, including producing a detailed map of our galaxy’s structure (which is difficult because we’re located inside it!), particularly its magnetic field.”

    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 11:08 am on December 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , INFLUENCING NANOSCALE INSTRUMENTATION, Maya Lassiter, , , Women in STEM   

    From Penn Today: Women in STEM- “When Curiosity Meets Nano Device Fabrication” Maya Lassiter 

    From Penn Today

    Nov 21, 2019 [Just now in social media]

    Maya Lassiter

    Experiencing the democratization of media through third-party applications like LimeWire, YouTube and MySpace may have influenced the perspective and career trajectory of a woman who wants to impact the process of nanofabrication.

    “I lived through the CD-to-iPod-to-iPhone progression and felt that computers and technology could be a means by which to increase expression and understanding. That probably has a lot to do with my fascination with electrical and computer engineering,” says Maya Lassiter, doctoral GEM Fellow in the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering at Penn Engineering.

    At Penn, Lassiter is applying an instrumentation and systems perspective to understand how nanoscale robots can be fabricated, controlled and used to further biological research. Along the way she hopes to inform the practice of creating devices from a holistic understanding of design, resource use and application.


    “I am interested in what nanoscale instrumentation can uncover regarding cell behavior and tissue dynamics, and how they affect larger systems,” says Lassiter. “I hope to create devices that have rhyme and reason — such as a clear rationale for materials use. As we advance the science of nanofabrication, we should introduce manufacturing processes and creative solutions that are much broader than those currently being implemented. Those changes can be changes for the better, and I want to be part of that.”

    Ultimately, she also wants her research to help further the understanding of how biological systems work in order to engineer nanoscale instrumentation that works with the systems, not against them. “I am especially interested in developing non-destructive devices for neural systems so our attempts to engage with specific cells do not come at the expense of harming the surrounding tissue.”


    Lassiter, who earned her BS and MS degrees in Electrical and Computer Engineering and was named the Outstanding Woman in Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, was excited to continue her education at Penn Engineering for a number of reasons. “I get to work in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, an exciting facility with world-class technical staff. Plus, I have the resource of Penn Engineering’s faculty who are at the frontier of science and technology,” she says. “Philadelphia is a well-connected city and a great place to be a graduate student. Coming from Pittsburgh, I am glad to experience another part of the state, where there is an active art and broader city culture that I want to get to know!”

    Lassiter is a GEM Fellow, part of the National GEM Consortium that is dedicated to enhancing the value of the nation’s human capital by increasing the participation of underrepresented groups (African Americans, American Indians, and Hispanic Americans) at the master’s and doctoral levels in engineering and science. “I believe I have something to offer in the creation of technology,” she says. “My long-term goal is to change how we think about community in engineering. I am not sure about the path to get there, but my next step will be to make work that conveys a holistic understanding of technology.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Penn campus

    Academic life at Penn is unparalleled, with 100 countries and every U.S. state represented in one of the Ivy League’s most diverse student bodies. Consistently ranked among the top 10 universities in the country, Penn enrolls 10,000 undergraduate students and welcomes an additional 10,000 students to our world-renowned graduate and professional schools.

    Penn’s award-winning educators and scholars encourage students to pursue inquiry and discovery, follow their passions, and address the world’s most challenging problems through an interdisciplinary approach.

  • richardmitnick 4:44 pm on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , Katja Fahrion, Women in STEM   

    From ESOblog: “Astronomer on tour” 

    ESO 50 Large

    From ESOblog

    The story of a trip to Chile to observe with the APEX telescope [below]

    Katja Fahrion

    6 December 2019

    Measuring a whopping twelve metres across, APEX is a submillimetre-wavelength telescope operating in the southern hemisphere and has a suite of instruments to find out more about the “cold”, “dusty” and “distant” Universe. APEX is operated by ESO on behalf of the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, the Onsala Space Observatory and ESO itself, meaning that many ESO astronomers get to spend time at the telescope each year. ESO Student Katja Fahrion tells us about her recent experience observing with this special machine.


    The first day of my two-week observing trip to the Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX) began at 4 am on 22 August 2019 in the ESO Guesthouse in Santiago, Chile. After a quick breakfast, a taxi took me to the airport and at 9 am I was in Calama, in the Atacama Desert. A driver picked me up and after about an hour of driving through the desert, I arrived at the APEX basecamp, close to San Pedro de Atacama.

    APEX is a submillimetre telescope, observing at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves, from a variety of astrophysical sources. It consists of a single dish with a diameter of twelve metres, located on the Chajnantor Plateau (the same plateau where ALMA resides!) 5100 metres above sea level. Unlike optical telescopes that only operate at night, submillimetre telescopes can also observe when the Sun is up.

    So when I arrived at the basecamp at around 11 am, the morning observing shift was still ongoing. For the first time, I entered the control room — the heart of the basecamp. One wall is covered with screens showing the status of the telescope, the output of the live webcam and the weather conditions, and the other walls are lined with desks and even more screens.

    Observers at APEX and other ESO telescopes don’t observe their own science targets, but instead carry out the observing programmes that are proposed by scientists from all around the world. At all times, at least one operator and one observer are present in the control room. While the operator is responsible for operating and controlling the telescope, the observer decides what to observe. The latter is my job as an astronomer and in the beginning, it seemed overwhelmingly complex.

    Centre of the Milky Way with Jupiter and Saturn, taken by Katja during her APEX observing trip.
    Credit: ESO/Katja Fahrion

    I moved into my hut that contained a small desk, a bed and a bathroom. Since it gets very cold in the desert at night, each room also has several radiators and the beds are covered with blankets.

    Besides the huts and the control room, there are office spaces, a kitchen where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, a recreational room including a table tennis table and a rowing machine, and a swimming pool. The swimming pool, that I used almost every day, has a beautiful view of the Sairecabur volcano. During the night, this volcano is not visible, but the view is replaced by the beautiful southern night sky.


    Although I got a brief introduction on the first day, I spent most of my second day at APEX in the control room learning how to observe with the telescope.

    One specific parameter the observers have to keep in mind is the precipitable water vapour (PWV) describing the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere above the telescope. Because water absorbs electromagnetic radiation at the wavelengths we want to observe, it is critical to have low values of PWV, just like you would not want clouds over your optical telescope. A PWV of 0.4 mm is absolutely great, 0.7 mm is still very good, there are some programmes that can work with 1.5-3 mm, but basically above 4, there is not much to be done and above 6 the telescope is shut down.

    Besides PWV, the wind speed is also shown in the control room because if it is too windy, the telescope has to be shut down and parked in a safe position. And then there is the Sun. Although APEX can observe during day, it cannot be pointed at or near the Sun because the antenna would focus the light and all the cables and instruments would melt. This is clearly something that we wouldn’t want to happen!

    I felt the lack of oxygen as soon as I arrived; getting my backpack from the boot of the car was already exhausting.

    I learned that it is essential to keep a record of everything that happens during an observation. We use a webpage where the records for every observing programme can be accessed and updated. This is important for the person that proposed the programme in the first place, but also for the APEX observers working different shifts.


    On my third day at APEX, I got the opportunity to go to the telescope site in the morning with another student and two engineers. This meant driving up the hill from 2300 metres to 5100 metres above sea level. Although the drive is through the desert, on the side of the road, I saw cacti, bushes, donkeys, birds and vicunas.

    Up at the telescope, the air is thin and has only half the pressure it has at sea level. I felt the lack of oxygen as soon as I arrived; getting my backpack from the boot of the car was already exhausting. I felt a bit weak and dizzy in the first few minutes, so I was happy to enter the control room that is supplied with extra oxygen.

    While the two engineers worked on the telescope generators, the other student and I spent some time in the control room to acclimatise. But soon the excitement won, and we went out to take pictures of extraordinary sight up on the Chajnantor Plateau. In the distance, I could see the 66 ALMA antennas under a clear blue sky, surrounded by volcanoes.

    Going up to the telescope was not the only exciting event on this day. Every Saturday, the Asado takes place. Everyone gathers at the kitchen and even the observers and operators bring their laptops to observe remotely. There are drinks and many different foods such as deep-fried cheese empanadas, ceviche and small sandwiches. There is also a barbeque with lots of beef and sausages. Music plays and after dinner the party carries on in the kitchen or around the fireplace.


    On the fourth day of my stay at APEX, I carried out observations during the evening shift for the first time on my own. During the previous days, I had become accustomed to the different observing programmes and roughly knew the weather constraints and priority of observing targets on the sky. Due to Earth’s rotation, the targets move in the sky and can only be observed when they are high enough above the horizon. So it is important to know which programme can be observed at any time of the day. This has to be balanced against the weather conditions and the priority of the programme, but after a few days of watching other observers making decisions, I was able to continue with ongoing projects.


    At the beginning of my stay, there were at least four observers at any time, so shifts lasted six hours instead of the typical eight hours. This meant that we had a lot of free time, especially as I was not yet on the official schedule. So on 26 August, another student and I drove to the nearby Laguna Chaxa. An hour’s drive from the basecamp, this Laguna is known for its beauty and an impressive flock of flamingos.

    Two flamingos having a drink at Laguna Chaxa. Credit: ESO/Katja Fahrion


    On 27 August, I began my (almost) regular shift schedule of 5 pm to 11 pm. On this day and the next, I had quiet shifts because the weather was not great. We observed a very time-intensive programme with the instrument PI230 that can be used even when there is a lot of water vapour in the air. We created maps of a molecular gas cloud in our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Because molecules such as carbon monoxide form at very low temperatures, they are not visible with optical telescopes. With submillimetre telescopes like APEX, however, we can observe bright spectral lines at a very specific wavelength and can thus observe the source. With telescopes such as APEX it is possible to either observe a single spectrum or to create a small map of a region in the sky that shows the structure of a source emitting at a certain wavelength. In both modes, it is also important to observe a reference position in the sky to remove unwanted background emission from Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes the reference position is contaminated by other astronomical light and this is one of many reasons why the observer has to look at the data while they are being taken.

    Large and Small Magellanic Clouds above the antennas that are used for communication between basecamp and the APEX telescope.
    Credit: ESO/Katja Fahrion


    My first and only night shift was from 10 pm to 4 am. During this night, the weather conditions were very good at first, so we used the ArTeMiS instrument that requires the best conditions to create beautiful maps of astronomical sources. Later, we switched to SEPIA. Switching the instrument requires some time, so it’s best not do it too often. After my night shift, I was very tired, but I took the opportunity to take some pictures of the night sky.


    After my night shift I slept in. The weather was not great again, so during my shift in the evening, we made more maps with PI230. It was a relaxing shift that gave me time to work on my own projects.


    On the second Saturday of my stay, I had the opportunity to go back up to the telescope. Even the second time, the visit was exciting. On the way, we saw llamas and several Vicunas that were very close to the road. My shift was during the Asado, but I could still spend some time with the others in the kitchen, enjoying empanadas and the barbecue.

    I would get up, have breakfast, work on my PhD project and go swimming. In the evening, from 5 to 11 pm, I was in the control room doing my shift.


    Only a few days of my shift at APEX were left and by then I was used to the routine. I would get up, have breakfast, work on my PhD project and go swimming. In the evening, from 5 to 11 pm, I was in the control room doing my shift. The weather was at first very good for observing with the most demanding instruments but then it got worse and we even had to close the telescope for an hour one night due to strong wind. The sunsets during these last days were beautiful because for the first time, there were clouds in the sky.

    On my last full day, 4 September, another observer from ESO and I visited the nearby Valle de la Luna. We were rewarded with astonishing views of an alien-looking landscape — similar to the surface of Mars or the Moon!


    After 13 nights at the APEX basecamp, it was time to leave. I had finished my last shift the day before, and after lunch, the driver brought me to the bus terminal in Calama. From there I took a four-hour bus ride to Antofagasta, 300 kilometres southwest of San Pedro. The next day, an official ESO bus took me to my two-night stay at the Very Large Telescope. Not to work, but just to visit.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Visit ESO in Social Media-




    ESO Bloc Icon

    ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    Glistening against the awesome backdrop of the night sky above ESO_s Paranal Observatory, four laser beams project out into the darkness from Unit Telescope 4 UT4 of the VLT, a major asset of the Adaptive Optics system

    ESO LaSilla
    ESO/Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT 4 lasers on Yepun

    ESO Vista Telescope
    ESO/Vista Telescope at Cerro Paranal, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO/NTT at Cerro LaSilla 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    ESO VLT Survey telescope
    VLT Survey Telescope at Cerro Paranal with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level.

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    ESO/MPIfR APEX high on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile’s Atacama region, at an altitude of over 4,800 m (15,700 ft)at the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Atacama desert.

  • richardmitnick 9:33 am on December 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 3-D printed metals, , Alessandra Colli, , , , Plasma 3-D printing, Women in STEM   

    From Brookhaven National Lab: Women in STEM- “Meet Alessandra Colli: Engineering Improvements in 3-D-printed Metals” 

    From Brookhaven National Lab

    December 3, 2019
    Karen McNulty Walsh

    Colli seeks to merge materials risk analysis with data collected at world-class science tools to improve safety, reliability, and opportunities in metal additive manufacturing.

    Alessandra Colli with National Synchrotron Light Source II beamline scientist Larry Carr at a beamline used for far-infrared spectroscopy (MET). This beamline will help characterize filter samples made by Obsidian AM, a company partnering with Brookhaven Lab to explore 3-D printing as a strategy for producing high-precision radiation filters for next-generation cosmic microwave background studies.

    With a background in electrical engineering and risk assessment, Alessandra Colli, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, wants airplane engines to function flawlessly, rockets to be reliable, and a new telescope to be sensitive to signals that could solve secrets of the universe. Her focus, however, is not on the electronic circuitry that powers these complex devices, but rather on improving the structure and function of their many metallic components.

    Colli is developing a strategy to leverage Brookhaven Lab’s materials-science capabilities and data analytics approaches to advance metal “additive manufacturing,” also known as 3-D printing. Compared with conventional metal manufacturing, 3-D printing offers great promise for building metal components with higher precision and greater reliability from the bottom up.

    “When you are talking about reliability, most of the time you look at the system level—how the part performs in the field, in the real-world application,” Colli said. “We want to bring in the basic materials science—the kinds of studies we can do at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) and the Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) to look at material properties and defects at very small scales—along with analytical techniques being developed by our Computational Science Initiative to efficiently sift through that data.”

    This approach could help scientists identify sources of material imperfections or weakness—and explore how different 3-D printing approaches or even new materials could improve a particular product.

    “Industrial partners could come in and we can help them solve specific issues using the enormous capabilities of our DOE Office of Science user facilities,” Colli said.

    3-D printed metals

    Once used mainly for creating prototypes or models, additive manufacturing is moving into the mainstream for a range of industrial and defense applications, so much so that many industrial players address it as the next industrial revolution in manufacturing, Colli said. Using 3-D printing to manufacture precision metal engine components, high-tech filters, or even construction hinges and brackets offers ways to reduce waste of feedstock material and dramatically improve design to achieve better performance of the final product, she noted.

    Instead of whittling down a larger block of metal, pouring molten material into a mold, or making separate components that must later be fastened together, 3-D printing uses a range of techniques to deposit the material layer by layer, printing only the desired object with little material wasted. The technology can create intricate objects and even allows construction from composite materials.

    But to ensure durability, strength, resistance to corrosion, or other characteristics important for specific applications, it’s essential to understand not just what the manufactured part looks like and how it works in its application, but also what’s going on inside—the characteristics of the material itself.

    Think about a piece that might be part of an airplane, or supporting parts for construction, part of a rocket engine or ship—these parts need extremely high reliability.

    “With additive manufacturing, there can be different types of defects—residual stress that creates tension in an area where you may not want it; porosity formed by bubbles that create a weak spot where the part can break. We have a range of techniques that can see these structural characteristics and the materials’ chemical composition. And we can study them under different environmental conditions, like pressure or high heat, that when combined with certain material characteristics can cause a failure,” Colli said.

    These tools can also help identify the best additive manufacturing processes for different applications, fine-tune manufacturing precision to take into account post-processing steps such as polishing or annealing, or explore new materials or combinations of materials that may improve functions.

    Building collaborations

    “There are lots of opportunities to grow collaborations with academic partners, industry, other departments at Brookhaven, and the user facilities here and at the other DOE Labs or research institutions around the world,” Colli said.

    As an example, Colli notes one collaboration already underway among scientists in Brookhaven’s Sustainable Energy Technologies Department, Physics Department, Instrumentation Division, NSLS-II, and Obsidian AM (a small spin-off company from Yale University in Connecticut) that hopes to develop filters for cosmic microwave background radiation [CMB].

    CMB per ESA/Planck

    These filters, designed for use in next-generation telescopes, are typically fabricated from metal as meshes or grids that get laminated together. Their job is to screen out signals from other forms of radiation so scientists can collect echoes of the radiation leftover from the Big Bang. Filtering out the “noise” will help physicists decipher details about neutrinos, dark matter, and general relativity.

    Scientific exploration of new materials, composites, and 3-D printing processes along with engineering studies of new applications will open many opportunities in metal additive manufacturing. This approach could guide the development of 3-D printed materials with reliability in harsh environments, reduced size and weight, or other characteristics optimized for specific applications.

    “We are exploring plasma 3-D printing as a way to directly manufacture the full metamaterial for these filters. We’re starting by making sure we can print the metal part with optimal precision, but we are hoping to be able to print alternate layers of insulating material and metal grid directly using the same 3-D printing process,” Colli said.

    This approach could be applied to making other layered metamaterials and composites, such as high-temperature superconductors (promising materials that carry electric current with no resistance) and magnets.

    Colli is finalizing plans with professors at the North Carolina A&T State University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to bring students in to learn about the various 3-D printing technologies, materials characterization tools such as x-ray diffraction, and approaches such as tensile stress testing. She is also collaborating with computational scientists to develop the tools and algorithms—many based on machine learning and other forms of “artificial intelligence”—to identify key indicators that will predict (and guide design to avoid) failure in additively manufactured metal components.

    Varied background, open mind

    “I’m not a materials scientist and I’m not a physicist, so to build this strategy and these collaborations, I had to learn everything too, including about the techniques; and I’m still learning,” Colli said. “My strength is to be able to understand both the small details and the big picture.”

    Colli attributes her wide-scale vision to the diversity of topics she studied early in her career: electrical power engineering for her master thesis and risk analysis for her Ph.D., the former at the Polytechnic University of Milan in Italy and the latter at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. “Diversifying things gives perspective in terms of what you can learn and what you can see. It really opens up your mind,” she said.

    She spent six years in The Netherlands developing methods to compare technological, environmental, and occupational risks of various energy technologies—fossil fuels, nuclear, and renewable energies such as solar. When she first came to Brookhaven Lab in 2011, she worked to integrate risk analysis into the economic side of evaluating energy systems.

    Simulations of filters for cosmic microwave background radiation telescopes help identify the best configuration for optimal performance. This graphic shows one layer of the copper configuration simulated using CST Studio Suite, a 3-D electromagnetic analysis software program. The simulation determines what types of radiation get transmitted through or filtered out by the mesh.

    The proximity of the Northeast Solar Energy Research Center to NSLS-II first sparked her idea that understanding material properties might help address an energy challenge: why photovoltaic solar cells sometimes crack.

    “My idea was to apply my knowledge in risk analysis to reliability issues in photovoltaics. What is the impact of the different materials that make up these layered structures on the tendency of cracks to form and propagate, for example? We have the solar panels and the synchrotron right here to do the materials science testing,” she said.

    In 2018, Jim Misewich, Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Photon Sciences (EPS), asked her to develop the Lab’s strategy for metal additive manufacturing as part of the EPS Growth plan. This opportunity gave her a chance to bring her idea of correlating material properties with performance and reliability to a new challenge.

    “I had to grow in my career, to go from being a scientist doing my job in the lab to develop a leadership mentality,” she said. With support from the Growth Office—including Elspeth McSweeney, Michael Cowell, and Jun Wang—she developed skills and sought professional training courses such as the Women in STEM Leadership program at Stony Brook University.

    “It was a year of enormous growth,” she said. “When people believe in you and they give you a chance, you feel obligated to give something back and to be successful. Supporting other people at the Lab helps us push each other.”

    Meaningful mentorship

    Colli puts these philosophies into practice as she mentors students through Brookhaven Lab’s Office of Educational Programs.

    “For me, research is always about teamwork. I am not the boss and you are not my slave; we work together, period. It’s a continuous exchange,” she said. “I let the students bring up ideas—have them tell me what we should do.”

    Sometimes suspicious of this approach and a bit lost without a predetermined path, Colli’s students often end up with an appreciation of what it means to be part of the scientific process.

    “I don’t care if they do perfect work or not. But when I see that they get engaged and they get passionate, that’s for me the best reward.”

    From her own experience, she also tells them, “Don’t be afraid if you end up in a different field because that may only increase your knowledge and open up your mind in different directions.”

    When she’s not developing new strategies at the Lab, Colli loves to connect with nature by hiking and especially riding her horse. “That is where I find my peace of mind,” she said.

    “I really love to be on Long Island, and I love the U.S.,” she added, noting that she hopes to become a full U.S. citizen as soon as she is eligible. “I still have two years to wait for that and I’m counting the days.”

    The metal additive manufacturing strategy is supported by Brookhaven Lab’s program development funds. NSLS-II and CFN are DOE Office of Science user facilities. The Computational Science Initiative is also supported by the DOE Office of Science.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    BNL Campus

    BNL Center for Functional Nanomaterials



    BNL RHIC Campus

    BNL/RHIC Star Detector


    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.

  • richardmitnick 4:11 pm on December 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientist travels to the end of the world to change the world", , Clothilde Langlais, , , Our oceans are a support system for us all. They influence our climate and provide food for billions of people and are a meaningful part of Aussie culture., Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM-“Scientist travels to the end of the world, to change the world” Clothilde Langlais 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    2 December 2019
    Natalie Kikken

    Flying the CSIRO flag: Clothilde Langlais is proud to be part of the Homeward Bound cohort for 2019.

    Our oceans are a support system for us all. They influence our climate, provide food for billions of people, and are a meaningful part of Aussie culture.

    But we don’t have to tell that to Clothilde Langlais, one of our leading physical oceanographers. Her passion is how our oceans connect with our climate system, and she’s been delivering some impressive science in this space for the last 15 years.

    Clothilde is currently in one of the most remote parts of the world – Antarctica – to champion women in STEM and build on her climate change knowledge.

    Connecting climate, oceans and people

    Clothilde would be a great asset on any trivia team for questions related to our oceans.

    “Did you know our oceans absorb more than 90 per cent of the excess heat trapped on Earth caused by human-made greenhouse gases? And that our oceans absorb almost 40 per cent of the human-made carbon from the atmosphere? This can impact ocean circulation and our climate,” Clothilde explained.

    She looked at how carbon and heat are soaked up from the atmosphere and stored deep in the Southern Ocean. Now she’s researching the impacts of that on one of Australia’s most valued marine assets – the Great Barrier Reef. She’s also exploring ways to reduce the effects and help the reef adapt to a changing climate.

    “As an oceanographer, I am focused on the pressing challenges facing our coasts. These include warming, sea-level rise, change in circulation, the shifting of habitats, coral bleaching, and ocean acidification. I’ve also researched how climate projections could create change in our marine environment including eddies (circular currents), the Southern Ocean and El Nino.”

    Clothilde really is a walking encyclopedia on ocean science.

    Women in STEM cheerleader

    Building on her scientific career, Clothilde wants to bring her science and knowledge to the wider community. And she is, by taking part in the Homeward Bound leadership program for women in STEM.

    Clothilde will be joining close to 100 women for a voyage to Antarctica (including six of our own scientists). They’ll develop professional and personal skills and build an international network with female leaders in science.

    “Through my science, I want to make a difference. I want to change the world,” she tells us.

    “I am proud to participate in the growing knowledge around climate change. And I want to bring this knowledge far and wide. I want to bring my science to life through visualisation and storytelling, while increasing the presence of women in STEM. Homeward Bound will help me do that, by helping me raising my voice and vision for a brighter future.”

    Behold Mother Nature

    Through Clothilde’s career, she has seen differences in the progress of male and female scientists.

    “There has been variation in the level of opportunities, support and trust in ideas. And being caring was not considered a popular leadership attribute. But things are changing. I am gaining confidence, connecting with other female leaders and creating a strategic path for my science.”

    Clothilde is pleased to be meeting Mother Nature in its wildest and most majestic form. But she recognises that Antarctica is also vulnerable.

    “Science gives us an understanding of why things are the way they are and how our planet works. It also helps us to plan for the future.”

    “I’m excited that my science and participation in Homeward Bound will influence female scientists all around the world to help shape decisions for our planet.”

    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 10:49 am on November 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "What our people pack when visiting Antarctica", Amelia Tandy, , Women in STEM   

    From CSIROscope: Women in STEM “What our people pack when visiting Antarctica” Amelia Tandy 

    CSIRO bloc

    From CSIROscope

    28 November 2019
    Natalie Kikken

    It’s a nice view right? Amelia will be seeing something like this every day as part of her Homeward Bound journey.

    Amelia Tandy, Research Assistant with our Climate Science Centre, has lived overseas before. But she’s never been to Antarctica.

    We chatted with Amelia about what she’s packing for the three-week Homeward Bound voyage, a women in science leadership program. We asked her about balancing work and parenting life, and why more diversity in STEM is important.

    Amelia Tandy, a researcher here at CSIRO.

    Knee-high boots for Antarctica

    Amelia works at our Climate Science Centre. She studied marine biology, but her focus is the interface between science and policy.

    “I work closely with government departments to take our science – whether is it climate modelling, oceanography, ecology and marine species research – to help inform decision-making,” she said.

    Amelia will be joining hundreds of other women in STEM on the Homeward Bound voyage from around the globe. And yes, they will all be wearing knee-high boots on the boat.

    “I’ll have special gumboots that can only be worn on the boat and when visiting the shore. They are knee-high so when we venture into shallow waters, our feet won’t freeze off!” she said.

    Why knee-high gumboots? Antarctica has very strict quarantine rules. The boots on the boat, stay on the boat. They need to have never touched land outside the Antarctic.

    With such a remote and precious ecosystem, it is critical that foreign materials and organisms don’t make their way to Antarctica to disrupt the fauna already living there.

    Ice cold Antarctic climate

    For this time of year, Amelia is expecting Antarctica’s weather to be in the minus temperatures. But, as she lives in Canberra, she isn’t too afraid of chilly climes.

    “With so much ice around, we need lots of waterproof gear. We’ll have goose down jackets that go down to our ankles, waterproof trousers, gloves and beanies,” she explained.

    “We’ll also be visiting international research stations – including Argentina, China and the US – to find out more about the research happening in this far-flung area of the world. This includes gender diversity at these stations and the challenges working in such a formidable environment.”

    Diverse STEM diversity

    Homeward Bound is a year-long program to increase the visibility of female STEM leaders through skills development, strategic capability and collaboration.

    “When I joined the program, my focus was on promoting climate change research. Antarctica is the perfect backdrop to demonstrate the impacts of climate change,” Amelia said.

    “However, as my participation in the program continues, the importance of diversity in the science arena has really come to the forefront.

    “It’s not just about women in STEM that needs more visibility. Diversity also includes cultural backgrounds, sexuality, and different ways of thinking.”

    Leader, mother, human

    Amelia is a mum to two young girls, aged six and four. Being away from them for four weeks with limited communication will be tough.

    “I won’t be able to just pick up the phone and call so I’ll be packing photos and some drawings. I’ve also asked my family and friends to share letters with me,” she said.

    “When I miss them, I will open a letter and feel more connected.”

    Amelia recognises the challenges that come with managing work and being a parent, but she appreciates CSIRO’s flexible work conditions so she can better balance the two.

    “I’m heartened to see societal shifts in flexible opportunities in the workplace for both men and women. There have also been positive steps to increase the visibility and appointments of women in leadership roles,” she said.

    “CSIRO supports the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) program, which has seen a six per cent increase in women in leadership roles in the last couple of years. This is definitely a step in the right direction.”

    Amelia is excited to bring more visibility to her work on her return from Homeward Bound. She’s also very excited about seeing penguins on her trip.

    “But most importantly, I’m looking forward to connecting with an international network of women. Everyone wins when we have diverse teams.”

    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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