HWHM! (Happy Women’s History Month!)

Dear Colleagues,

To help celebrate Women’s History Month, we have a gift for you. In this most unusual and challenging year, with its out-sized impact on women, and with the incredible contributions of female scientists who have pivoted to COVID-19 research, we have created a custom mask to honor them all.

To receive your own, click here, or just email your address to [email protected]

Over the years, Andy Brunning, a chemistry educator based in Cambridge, UK, has made a number of graphics highlighting important women in chemistry history. But highlighting and supporting women in chemistry isn’t just about pointing to historical figureheads. So, this year, he wanted to create something that instead focused on women working in chemistry here and now. Here’s the result: an ongoing series of cards, featuring a wide range of women in chemistry in various roles.

In other news, University of Florida Health biochemistry professor Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D., whose world-renowned work on the detailed structure of viruses led to advances in gene therapy treatments for different diseases, has sadly died on March 3 at her home near Gainesville of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. She was 57. She was a co-founder of StrideBio, a North-Carolina based startup biotechnology company that focuses on developing AAV vectors that can evade neutralizing antibodies during gene therapy. She will be greatly missed.

Mavis Agbandje-McKenna, Ph.D.

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.  

Stay safe and sound,

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


Raven the Science Maven has a message for aspiring STEM workers: be your unapologetic self. Raven Baxter, also known as “Raven the Science Maven,” is a molecular biologist, science communicator, and RFS Advisory Board member working to shatter barriers and dismantle stereotypes that plague the world of STEM and beyond. “I felt like people were often telling me and signaling to me that they didn’t feel like I belonged in the space largely because of what I look like as a Black woman,” Baxter told Gizmodo. “And so, I really felt like I wanted to try something different in science.”

 Photo: Courtesy Raven Baxter

An ecosystem of impact: 12 radical women in STEMFrom AI to climate, and space exploration to food sustainability, these women are working across the areas that XPRIZE is most passionate about, and that are most important for the future of our planet. One of these radical women is Dr. Jo Handelsman, the first president of RFS. She is the Director of the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, celebrating it's 10th anniversary at the University of Wisconsin.

‘On the verge of a breakdown.’ Report highlights women academics’ pandemic challenges. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has released a new report: “Impact of COVID-19 on the Careers of Women in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.” In the 253 pages of the report, some of the most resonant pieces are survey responses from women faculty members about the challenges they faced during the first 6 months of the pandemic.

Future Founders Initiative aims to increase female entrepreneurship in biotech: MIT faculty collaborate with members of the Boston-area biotech community to commercialize women’s discoveries and promote female entrepreneurship.  Leadership of this initiative includes RFS board member Nancy Hopkins, RFS speaker Susan Hockfield and critical scientist Sangeeta Bhatia. The initiative has ambitious goals, including increasing the fraction of MIT female faculty who found companies from less than 10 percent to 25 percent by 2024. 

These 8 women in STEM are at the forefront of the world’s response to COVID-19: Beyond making up 70% of the world's health workers, women researchers have been at the cutting edge of coronavirus research. Here are just some of the women in STEM around the globe who have been making a difference during the pandemic: Dr. Özlem Türeci, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Ramida Juengpaisal, Professor Sarah Gilbert, Somaya Faruqi, Neema Kaseje, Professor Devi Sridhar, and Dr. Anggia Prasetyoputri. 

Women in Innovation and STEM Database at MIT announces fellowship program. The WISDM Fellowship Program promotes the visibility of women in the MIT academic community and increases gender diversity in innovation and entrepreneurship. In partnership with MITii, WISDM founder Ritu Raman, past winner of the Rosalind Franklin Award from BIO and speaker at a past RFS annual meeting. She is an MIT postdoc and AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, was awarded a $10,000 AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors Grant for public engagement with science activities that teach, inspire, and promote the next generation of women in STEM.

International Women's Day: Illustrating the Covid-19 pandemic. Meet three women who are using their artistic talents, combined with their expertise in the fields of science, health and technology to help the fight against coronavirus.

NASA names D.C. headquarters after Mary Jackson, its first Black female engineer and STEM leader. “A woman who dismantled barriers and pursued her goals in a field dominated by men then and now, Jackson has demonstrated strength, skill and unrelenting passion for her field. She served as inspiration for Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win The Space Race, a 2016 book that was adapted into a film, and she was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2019,” writes Monica Haider, contributor at Forbes.

Dolly Parton, who helped fund the Moderna vaccine, gets a ‘dose of her own medicine.’  Last year, Ms. Parton donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which worked with Moderna to develop one of the first coronavirus vaccines to be authorized in the United States. On Tuesday, Ms. Parton, 75, received a Moderna shot at Vanderbilt Health in Tennessee. “Dolly gets a dose of her own medicine,” she wrote on Twitter.

Mothers in academia address workplace inequalities: Researchers have recently authored a manifesto for supporting mothers in academia. They spelled out a roadmap for policies that would support women and particularly mothers and parents of color, to help level a playing field traditionally dominated by white men.

Sloan Kettering Institute researchers named 2021 Kravis Women in Science Endeavor Fellowship grant recipientsMemorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) announced that Sloan Kettering Institute (SKI) researchers Regina Bou Puerto and Mijin Kim, PhD, have been named 2021 Marie-Josée Kravis Women in Science Endeavor (Kravis WiSE) fellowship grant recipients. “We are thrilled to have two scientific trailblazers as this year’s Kravis WiSE fellowship grant recipients. When we look at the progress made in scientific disciplines, we have long benefited from the significant contributions that have been made by women,” said Ushma Neill, PhD, Vice President of Scientific Education and Training.

Why is it important to encourage more women to pursue science and engineering careers? To stay competitive globally, the United States needs the talent and creative ability of all of its people—both women and men. But women currently are a smaller part of the science and engineering workforce—in industry and in our nation’s colleges and universities.

International Women’s Day: Heidi Larson and the fight against vaccine hesitancy. Vaccines Work hosted a series of interviews with inspirational women from across the world. Here Professor Heidi Larson, Founding Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project, explains how gender can affect vaccine hesitancy.

The women who made modern vaccines work: Have you heard of Edward Jenner, the inventor of the modern vaccine? Or Jonas Salk, whose polio vaccine was a turning point in the fight against this debilitating disease? If you know something about global health, you’ve probably heard of these vaccine pioneers. But what about the women who also helped lay the foundations for modern immunization? Meet five remarkable women who pushed forward the frontiers of science in this article from GAVI.

7 inspiring young women who advance food & ag scienceMeet some of the inspiring young women who are working in STEM fields in the food and agriculture industries. Women are the primary faces behind our food production, but still too often, they are facing inherent gender bias.

These Black women are on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19. They have administered Covid-19 vaccines on college campuses, provided testing at churches and spent long hours in labs developing an effective vaccine. Some have given up their regular jobs and personal free time to do this work. Black women have been at the helm of the nation's fight against the pandemic since the coronavirus hit US soil a little over one year ago, writes Nicquel Terry Ellis for CNN.

A new searchable directory focuses on women innovators in agrifoodtech. This list is the result of a collaboration between women leaders in agtech including Connie Bowen (AgLaunch Initiative), Amy Wu (From Farms to Incubators), Allison Kopf (Artemis Ag), Pam Marrone (Marrone Bio Innovations), and Louisa Burwood-Taylor (AgFunder, AFN, MWOMA).

Meet the heroes you never knew you had: Three underappreciated female pioneers of synthetic biologyIn honor of International Women’s Day, here are three overlooked scientists whose research provided key insights into the quirks of genetics, the uses of proteins, and the value of computation in molecular biology. Their work was controversial and undervalued when it was first published, but now it’s clear that these women blazed trails for modern synthetic biology, writes Theresa Machemer for SynBioBeta. 

Women chemists committee: A megaphone for women chemists. How can all women develop a confident and forceful voice to advocate for equal social and professional positions in this world? As individuals, how can we help achieve equity and equality in what we say and do? As the newly appointed chair of the American Chemical Society Women Chemists Committee (WCC), Amy M. Balija wants to focus on empowering women. The committee’s mission is to attract, retain, develop, promote, and advocate for women to positively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion in the American Chemical Society as well as in the profession.


When You Picture a Scientist, Who Do You See? A panel conversation on advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM. During this live event scheduled for Wednesday, March 24 at 3:00pm, Nobel Prize-winning Dr. Jennifer Doudna (featured in the film Human Nature) and other world-renowned scientists welcome your questions following a candid conversation on advancing diversity and inclusion in STEM. The discussion is inspired by the award-winning documentary Picture a Scientist, which features one of the RFS founders, Nancy Hopkins.

Addressing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism In 21st Century STEMM Organizations: A Summit. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) will convene a national summit that will highlight how racism operates at different levels in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM) settings. They invite you to submit nominations for committee members and/or reviewers for this study by March 18, 2021. The national summit will be held in mid to late June.

We See You: The Power of Female STEM Role Models On and Off the Screen, (March 17, 2021) This wide-ranging discussion will touch upon how writers for television and film develop characters that challenge stereotypes, the research on the powerful impact of role models in inspiring our next generation of scientists, and the very personal stories of struggle and triumph from a trail-blazing doctor who is a role model to so many.


The Vilcek Foundation is now accepting applications for the 2022 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science and Dance. Three prizes of $50,000 will be awarded in each of two categories: biomedical science and dance.

Gladstone Institutes launches new program aimed to increase the representation of historically underrepresented groups at the postdoc level. Like all Gladstone postdocs, participants in this program will receive personalized career mentorship, build their writing and communication skills, and have opportunities to develop their mentorship skills through programs like Gladstone’s summer internship program, PUMAS. In addition, members of the program will receive tailored coaching to ensure their long-term success as well as a $10,000 stipend. 

Marianna Limas, Social Media Manager 
Nilda Rivera, Partnership and Events Manager