Dear Colleagues, 

I am pleased to include another issue of RFS Briefings with some timely and encouraging updates on women in science. 

The perseverance of women in science has been on full display this past year: they have made seminal scientific discoveries, taken up new leadership positions, started companies, and led the charge in the fight against COVID-19.

The Rosalind Franklin Society celebrates these accomplishments, and many more, by recognizing, fostering, and advancing critical contributions from women in the life sciences and affiliated disciplines in the annual virtual conference Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections.

From groundbreaking research to prestigious awards and recognition, this event provided incredible access to emerging stars as well as those who continue to lead the way.

If you missed this event , it will be available for free on-demand beginning this week. We hope you will watch it (or watch it again!) and share it with your colleagues. 

Also, in honor of Black History Month we continue to highlight the leadership and contributions of Black women in science. Please take some time this month to watch several impressive presentations we have hosted in the past year. 

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 Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


13 Black women in STEM you should know!

In honor of Black History Month, here are 13 African-American women, from yesteryear to today, who defied insurmountable odds and continue to pay the way forward for the girls who would succeed them. May we see more of them, may we be inspired by them, may we raise them. (Image: Aprille Ericsson-Jackson. Credit: Wikipedia). Read more.

Dr. Carlotta Arthur named new executive director of Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education at National Academies.

Dr. Arthur comes to the National Academies from the Henry Luce Foundation, where she serves as director of its Clare Boothe Luce (CBL) Program for Women in STEM, which provides significant support for women in science, mathematics, and engineering in higher education and has made more than $200 million in grants since its inception. During her tenure, Arthur has expanded the national and global profile of CBL and the Luce Foundation’s activities to transform STEM systems and structures through the lens of equity and inclusion. Read more.

Celebrating Black Scientists.
From the great engineering feats of African Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, to traffic lights, automatic elevator doors, and gas masks, contributions of Black innovators to society continue to be of astounding significance. The Pacific Science Center worked with the teens in their Discovery Corps program to create Path of Persistence, an exhibit honoring some of the Black and African American scientists whose passion, curiosity and determination led to scientific breakthroughs and inventions that enrich our lives. Read more.

Black History Month: Black trailblazers in science and biotechnology that you need to know.
Throughout Black History Month, Good Day BIO will be highlighting the accomplishments of Black trailblazers in science and biotechnology—here’s a list of 32 you should know. Read more.

Immersive video game explores the history of women at MIT.

A new video game, "A Lab of One’s Own," creates an immersive environment in which players discover archival materials that tell the stories of women from MIT’s history. “Our goal was to bring these materials into conversation through an engaging virtual space,” says Maya Bjornson. “We felt that by using new digital technologies we could make the archives accessible to a wider audience, and make research feel like play.” Read more.

Jacqueline Barton of Caltech honored by the American Chemical Society.
Jacqueline K. Barton, the John G. Kirkwood and Arthur A. Noyes Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, has been named the recipient of this year’s Theodore William Richards Medal Award by the Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society. Jacqueline, who is on the RFS board, is receiving the award for her work on the chemistry of DNA, in particular, her use of transition metal complexes to examine DNA site recognition and reactions. Read more.

CZI and National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine launch science diversity leadership program to recognize and further accomplishments of outstanding science faculty.
“Through this new partnership with the National Academies, we hope to increase visibility and support for faculty of color in biomedicine, including Black, Latina/o/x, and Indigenous faculty, so they can continue to do some of the best science and mentor tomorrow’s leaders,” said CZI Co-Founders & Co-CEOs Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg. Read more.

Nancy Kanwisher wins National Academy of Sciences Award in the Neurosciences.

Nancy’s work over the past two decades has argued that many aspects of human cognition are supported by specialized neural circuitry, a conclusion that stands in contrast to our subjective sense of a singular mental experience,” says McGovern Institute Director Robert Desimone. “She has made profound contributions to the psychological and cognitive sciences and I am delighted that the National Academy of Sciences has recognized her outstanding achievements.” Read more.

Four women scholars who have been named to university dean positions.
Tejal Desai  is among four women scholars who have been named to university dean positions. Tejal was named dean of the College of Engineering at Brown University (a member of our Council of Academic Institutions) in Providence, Rhode Island, effective September 1. An expert in applying micro- and nanoscale technologies to create new ways to deliver medicine to targeted sites in the human body, Dr. Desai is a professor and a former longtime chair of the department of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at the University of California San Francisco. Read more.

Florence Bell: the ‘housewife’ who played a key part in our understanding of DNA.
“Taking an X-ray image was not easy. It required ten-hour exposure times, working in a darkened room in close proximity to high electrical voltages and very hot X-ray tubes. But Bell’s skill and tenacity paid off and in 1938, based on the X-ray images she had taken, she and Astbury proposed an early model of the DNA structure. This model later gave James Watson and Francis Crick a vital foothold when they began their own work on DNA,” writes Kersten Hall. Read more.

Lisa Goddard, 55, dies; brought climate data to those who needed it.
“The types of hazards we worry most about with respect to climate change projections — such as droughts, heat waves, inundation events — are happening right now, and we can predict them with weeks to months of lead time, rather than merely projecting how their statistics may change in 50-100 years,” Dr. Goddard said in a 2021 interview for the Columbia Climate School website. Read more. 

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