RFS Briefings - March 10, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

I am pleased to include another issue of RFS Briefings with some timely and encouraging updates on women in science. Reflecting on International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2020, celebrated on February 11, I would like to share the following statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres:

To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.

RFS, with your help, is committed to achieving this goal.

We hope you will consider, and share with colleagues, the following opportunities highlighted in this issue:

  • Applications are being accepted through March 15 for the Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation, awarded for “innovative research that modulates neural activity through physical stimulation of targeted sites in the nervous system with implications for translational medicine.” Read more.
  • The National Foundation for Cancer Research is inviting women entrepreneur-scientists in the cancer/oncology arena to enter the AIM HI Women’s Venture Competition, which offers the winner up to $300,000 of seed stage equity investment and the opportunity to participate in the Accelerator program which includes mentoring, advising, and networking. The application deadline is April 6, 2020. Read more
  • Goldman Sachs is accepting applications for its Launch with GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Initiative, which aims to increase access to capital and connections for Black or Latinx founders, CEOs, or presidents of fast-growing companies at the forefront of innovation and technology. Applications close on April 17, 2020. Read more.

On a sad note, Rosalind P. Walter, the first “Rosie the Riveter” died on March 4 at age 95. Raised in a wealthy New York family, she worked on an assembly line during World War II, joining millions of other women in support of the troops sent off to war. Read more.

See below for more news about women in science

Please continue to share important news and opportunities with us so that we may share it with you, and others who are committed to supporting the careers of exceptional women in science. 
With Regards,

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society

Chemistry and Engineering News - Women in Science Special Issue
Chemistry & Engineering News has published a special issue on 2020 Trailblazers edited by Jennifer Doudna, CRISPR pioneer and a “formidable” entrepreneur in her own right,celebrating 16 “badass” women entrepreneurs in chemistry. The profiled women have launched over 30 start-ups aimed at developing treatments for rare diseases and more. They live by the motto “’Nobody ever got anywhere by listening to no.’” Read more.

Dual-anonymization Yields Promising Results for Reducing Gender Bias
Gender gaps in access to funding and resources, which can directly influence one’s success as a researcher and academic, have been well-documented. Yet, because of the variety of confounding factors and outcomes, many organizations have failed to address gender bias. Based on a naturalistic field experiment following the decision of the Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee to implement a dual- rather than single-anonymous review process, a recent study found that male reviewers rated female PIs significantly worse than they rated male PIs before, but not after, dual-anonymization was adopted. The authors conclude that “dual-anonymization makes it possible for women to be treated equally.” Read more.

Women in Science: Putting Gender Imbalance Under the Microscope
Karen Gregory and Lauren May, both mid-career group leaders of drug discovery labs at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences in Australia, have launched a new advocacy group – Her Research Matters – to address the gender imbalance in career paths of early- to mid-career researchers. Their focus is on “fostering, sponsoring and promoting” the research of women in science through several platforms: update existing career metrics or organizational structures to address barriers for advancement; encourage communication between researchers; and highlight gender gaps in conference and seminar programs as well as in funding. They have begun to promote women-led research through media, social media, schools, STEMM groups, and conferences and seminars, and will partner with related organizations. Read more.

Rosalind P. Walter, 95, ‘Rosie the Riveter’ and a Public Television Funder, Dies
Rosalind Walter, who came from a privileged New York family, worked on an assembly line during World War II, joining millions of American women helping to arm the troops with munitions, warships, and aircraft. Her role, however, was one most often reserved for men – working the night shift driving rivets into metal bodies of Corsair fighter planes at a Connecticut plant.  A newspaper column about her inspired a 1942 song that turned her into “the legendary Rosie the Riveter, the archetype of the hard-working woman in overalls and bandanna-wrapped hair who kept the military factories
humming.” This song inspired the women’s movement of the last half of the 20th century.  In addition to her pioneering work, she retained a public presence as a major philanthropist and one of public television’s principal benefactors. Read more.

How a Chemist and a Physicist Solved a 50-Year-Old Puzzle with Help from the Princeton Catalysis Initiative
The Princeton Catalysis Initiative, committed to creating or enabling new fields of research over the next decade, accelerates scientific interactions between researchers, including those within and outside the Princeton campus. Likening the process to “’speed dating for scientists,’” speakers at an annual symposia outline their research interests and any problems for which they need collaborators. Nathalie de Leon, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Princeton, gave a brief talk at the inaugural symposium in 2018, and was approached by Robert Knowles, a professor of chemistry at Princeton. The two, who knew each other from their postdoc days, discovered “completely new” types of chemistry that worked to control the carbon atoms on the surface of a diamond – a problem that had plagued physicists for 50 years. Together, they solved the problem within a year!  Read more.    

Liu Named 2020 Benjamin Franklin Award Laureate – Bio-IT World  
Xiaole Shirley Liu, a Professor with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, has been announced as the winner of the 2020 Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Access in the Life Sciences. Her research, which has led to more than 30 scientific software packages and new tools for CRISPR/Cas9 study design, has contributed to our understanding of gene regulation. Dr. Liu will give her laureate presentation on April 23, 2020 at the 19th Annual Bio-IT World Conference & Expo '20 in Boston, MA. Read more.

New Consensus Study Report on Improving the Underrepresentation of Women in STEMM
The National Academies has just published Promising Practices for Addressing Underrepresentation of Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, a review of existing research on policies, programs, and other interventions for improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in these disciplines.  Actionable recommendations are presented to drive change in both the representation and leadership of women. The National Academies is hosting a symposium open to the public on March 19, 2020 with featured presentations by experts and leaders on a range of issues addressed in this report, including RFS President Rita Colwell.  Read more.

Introducing the Launch with GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur Cohort 
Through the Launch with GS Black and Latinx Entrepreneur initiative, Goldman Sachs aims to increase access to capital and connections for Black or Latinx founders, CEOs, or presidents of fast-growing companies at the forefront of innovation and technology. During a customized 8-week experience, selected entrepreneurs will have access to the best of Goldman Sachs, including industry experts and investors. Applications close on April 17, 2020. Read more.

NIH Announces $1 Million Prize Competition to Target Global Disease Diagnostics
NIH’s recently launched $1 million Technology Accelerator Challenge will focus on the design and development of non-invasive, handheld, digital technologies to detect, diagnose, and guide therapies for diseases with high global and public health impact, especially in low- and middle-income countries. To stimulate the rapid development of products, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will offer supplementary support. The challenge will address three blood disorders that significantly impact global populations: sickle cell disease, malaria, and anemia. Applications will be accepted through June 2, 2020. NIH will award up to $500,000 for a top finalist and smaller awards to about five semifinalists. Read more

CNV Foundation Accepting Applications for Financial Aid for Childcare and Domestic Help
The Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard-Foundation in Germany is committed to the advancement of science and research among talented young women with children. It provides funds for graduate students and postdoctoral students of all nationalities to be used for additional childcare and domestic help to enable a more flexible work-life balance. The grants target women in the field of experimental natural sciences and medicine who are conducting research at a university or research institute in Germany, as well as postdoctoral students who obtained a degree at a German university and may be continuing their research abroad. The application period is from September 1 through November 30, 2020. Read more.

A New Women’s Initiative from the National Foundation for Cancer Research
The AIM-HI Women’s Venture Competition is open to aspiring female entrepreneur-scientists in the cancer/oncology arena. It will allow for the expansion of AIM-HI’s existing cadre of women entrepreneurs by targeting women-led companies that were established to address unmet medical needs in cancer/oncology. In addition to a prize of up to $300,000 of seed stage equity investment for the final awardee, all finalists will be accepted into the accelerator program which includes entrepreneurial bootcamp training from the Foundation’s partner, Springboard Enterprises. The application deadline is April 6, 2020. Read more.

Katherine Johnson Dies at Age 101
Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who “broke barriers” at NASA, died on February 24. As one of a group of black women mathematicians at NASA, for 33 years, her work contributed to the landing of Apollo II on the moon in 1969 and other historic flights. Yet during that time, and for years after, almost no one knew her name. It wasn’t until the book and 2016 film, “Hidden Figures” that she became the “most celebrated” of this small cadre of black women who served at the space agency. After retiring from NASA, Mrs. Johnson became a public advocate for mathematics education. Read more.

I Was the First Woman of Color in Space. Here’s What Katherine Johnson Means to Me
Mae Jamison, who joined NASA in 1987 and became the first woman of color who went into space, wrote an essay reflecting on her pursuit of a career as an astronaut and the significance of the pioneering women before her whose work went unrecognized. Though she did not know of the NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who died on February 24 at age 101, or of her critical contributions to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, Jamison refers to Johnson as “a beacon who heralded the contributions made by women that were hidden and stymied by the deep institutional and societal bias that accredits achievements to white men, deemed by society to be the unique holders of genius.”  Read more.

New Engineering Professor Outsmarted Doubters
Despite a lack of encouragement from a former guidance counselor, math teacher, and boyfriend, because she was a woman, Steffi Diem received an undergraduate degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has now returned there as an assistant professor in engineering physics. To her surprise, her tweet about this accomplishment was liked by 50,000 people and retweeted more than 2,000 times. Dr. Diem is working on the Pegasus project, a fusion power experiment which may lead to “a virtually unlimited, environmentally friendly source of energy.” As a result of her original tweet, she has become a source of inspiration to women in a field with less than 8 percent representation. Read more.

Gender Inequality in Science Careers and Publishing
A new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined differences in publication rates of men and women in STEM, based on those whose publishing careers ended between 1955 and 2010. Data included the publication history of 1.5 million authors in 13 disciplines and across 83 countries. While the findings showed that men and women published at a comparable rate, the length of publishing careers and “’dropout rates’” of women relative to men, explain much of the documented gender gap in productivity and impact. The study showed that the increased participation by women in science over 60 years was consistent with an increase in such gender differences. Read more.

Reina Reyes Looks Like Science
Reina Reyes, a native of the Philippines, became famous as an astrophysics student for her groundbreaking research at Princeton ('10) involving an observational test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. After completing a postdoctoral position at the University of Chicago, her plans to find a more permanent academic position in the U.S. failed. Instead, she returned to her home country where she is using her physics background to “make her mark” in different ways, including promoting science education as a host of Science Says, a children’s science program on a Filipino TV channel. Dr. Reyes is also head of analytics at the Ayala Corporation, a conglomerate with interest in water, power, infrastructure, healthcare, and education, among other industries. Read more.

Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in Science
In recognition of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, an employee of AuthorAID spoke with some of the more than 1,600 female early-career researchers in developing countries who participated in its most recent online course in research and writing in the sciences. Their research stories suggested a number of common themes:  a passion for research and its potential for positive impact; a range of challenges not limited to gender disparities, e.g., issues of research funding and access to the latest research information; challenges specifically related to gender, e.g., family-life balance and skepticism about women pursuing careers in science and engineering subjects; and encouragement of women and girls to pursue science, despite challenges. Read more.

Unique Prize for Research in Neuromodulation
Applications, due March 15, 2020, are being accepted for the Science & PINS Prize of for Neuromodulation, awarded for “innovative research that modulates neural activity through physical stimulation of targeted sites in the nervous system with implications for translational medicine.” The award of US$25,000 is based on a 1,500-word essay describing research performed in the past three years, which will be published in the journal Science. Established in 2016, the prize is administered by Science and Science Translational Medicine. Read more.

2020 Szent-Györgyi Prize Awarded to a Pioneering Researcher
The National Foundation for Cancer Research announced that Susan Band Horwitz, PhD, an RFS Board Member, received the 2020 Szent-Györgyi Prize for Progress in Cancer Research, based on a unanimous decision by an independent election committee. The award recognizes her pioneering work with Taxol, a natural product obtained from the yew tree, which is now one of the most often prescribed medications in the world for the treatment of ovarian, breast, and lung cancers. According to the chair of 2020 Prize selection committee, “’She has profoundly impacted and improved the treatment of cancer patients.’” The committee co-chair “places Dr. Horwitz in the uppermost tier of cancer researchers.’” Read more.