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








RFS Briefings - March 2, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), a member of our Council of Academic Institutions, announced the selection of the 2020 Hanna Gray Fellows, a cohort of 21 early career researchers who are taking on some of the biggest challenges in the life sciences, such as understanding the inner workings of the brain or the complexities of the immune system. “These promising researchers are poised to do groundbreaking work and ready to inspire the next generation of scientists,” said HHMI President Erin O’Shea in a press release.

On the International Day for Women and Girls in Science, celebrated on 11 February, UNESCO and the L'Oréal Foundation honoured five women researchers in the fields of astrophysics, mathematics, chemistry and informatics as part of the 23rd International Prize for Women in Science. UNESCO also published a global study on gender equality in scientific research, entitled “To be smart, the digital revolution will need to be inclusive.”

Congratulations to Dr. Ruth Lehmann! She will receive the Vilcek Prize in Biomedical Science for her contributions to the understanding of primordial germ cells and the germ cell life cycle, and for her institutional leadership in the field. Dr. Lehmann is also a board member of Rosalind Franklin Society and was a feature speaker at our recent meeting: Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections

Dr. Ruth Lehmann. Courtesy of Gretchen Ertl.

Congratulations to Tara LeGates for being one of the finalists of the 2020 Eppendorf Prize. Tara LeGates completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, where she established the importance of the strength and plasticity of hippocampus-nucleus accumbens synapses in reward-related behavior. Dr. LeGates is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC). Her lab studies how neuronal circuits integrate information to regulate behavior and their alterations in psychiatric disorders.

Tara LeGates. Credit: Melissa Penley Cormier.

Olufolakemi “Fola” Olusanya from Howard University and Chrystal Starbird from Yale University have received the inaugural Rising Black Scientist Award presented by Cell Press and Cell Signaling Technology. You can read their award-winning essays in the February 18 issue of the journal Cell. They will also receive a $10,000 award and $1,000 in scientific materials from Cell Signaling Technology. Read more about Yale postdoc Chrystal Starbird and Howard University Senior Olufolakemi “Fola” Olusanya.






Olufolakemi “Fola” Olusanya
Chrystal Starbird    


Shirley Malcom, a speaker at our colloquium at the Wistar Institute, leads the SEA Change initiative at the American Association for the Advancement of Science which helps institutions transform themselves to recruit, retain, and advance the full diversity of people who are captivated by science. “I'm trying to help make a way for others, not by saying there's anything wrong with them but by addressing the issues that we know to be problematic within the system itself,” Malcom said in a recent article for 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 in these trying times,  

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society 


Piecing together the next pandemic. Dr. Jessica Manning, a public health researcher with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is working in a small lab in Cambodia. She is on the lookout for emerging diseases. She plans to work with Cambodia’s center of communicable diseases, using metagenomics to start monitoring the animals in two local wet markets, where pathogens could make the jump to humans.

Dr. Marianne Legato wins PROSE Award in Biomedicine for “The Plasticity of Sex: The Molecular Biology and Clinical Features of Genomic Sex, Gender Identity and Sexual Behavior.” Since 1976, the Association of American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE Awards) have recognized the very best in professional and scholarly publishing by celebrating the authors, editors, and publishers whose landmark works have made significant advancements in their respective fields of study each year.

Millie Hughes-Fulford, NASA shuttle scientist, dies at 75. Millie Hughes-Fulford was NASA’s first female payload specialist. She conducted biomedical experiments on the physical toll of spaceflight on humans on board the space shuttle Columbia in 1991. She had aspired to fly to outer space since childhood, and finally achieved her goal on the space shuttle Columbia in 1991.

Arianna Rosenbluth dies at 93; Pioneering figure in data science. Dr. Rosenbluth, who received her physics Ph.D. at 21, was a physicist who played an important role in developing The Metropolis algorithm, a technique for generating random samplings. The algorithm became a foundation of understanding huge quantities of data. She died of complications of the coronavirus.

NASA Names DC Headquarters Building for ‘Hidden Figure' Mary Jackson. NASA has officially named its headquarters building in Washington, D.C., in honor of engineer Mary W. Jackson in a ceremony on Friday, February 26.

Rainwater Charitable Foundation announces second-annual Rainwater prize winners for brain research. Congratulations to Dr. Celeste Karch for winning the Rainwater Annual Prize for Outstanding Innovation in Neurodegenerative Research. She is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Supporting women in academia during and after a global pandemic. “More than ever, now is the time to challenge long-standing institutional traditions and policies that propagate gender inequity. Solving such widespread problems will not be easy, but with persistent effort and multipronged approaches, institutions can restructure academic science so that it supports and retains the best and brightest minds.” Here is a series of policy changes and institutional investments that will support the needs of women scientists so that we can achieve gender equity in academic science.

Scottish University draws ire for dismissing female gender studies lead. The University of St. Andrews in Scotland has been criticized for not renewing the contract of the female director of its Institute for Gender Studies. The move has raised questions about the underrepresentation of women in academia, particularly in a field of study focused on representation and identity.

The new leader of 500 Women Scientists on finding community and supporting women of color in STEMM. “We know that women are underpaid, but it’s disproportionately women of color who are underpaid for their work. And we do a lot of slave labor, especially within our communities. And so then being able to tell the women that, you know, we see you, we recognize you, we want to support you, and provide honorarium for project support. I think that’s huge,” said Lauren Edwards, the interim executive director of 500 Women Scientists, in an interview for STAT News.

Norway has the highest share of women scientists and engineers in Europe. Women scientists and engineers are in the majority in five countries across Europe. In Norway, 55 % of all scientists and engineers last year were women. That is more than in any other country in Europe.

The bacteria whisperer: Bacterial chatter and antibiotic resistance. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria keep Dr. Bonnie Bassler up at night. The molecular biologist, an RFS board member, made groundbreaking discoveries demonstrating that bacteria communicate and orchestrate group behaviors.

Science outreach in my mother tongue. Flávia Viana and Ana Teles are postdoctoral researchers who left Portugal for their studies or research. They both volunteer with Native Scientist, an organization that runs science-communication workshops for children. They aim to inspire children to pursue higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by running workshops in their heritage language.

UW chemist and oceanographer named Sloan Fellows. Ashleigh Theberge, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Jodi Young, an assistant professor in the School of Oceanography, have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The fellowships honor those early-career researchers whose achievements mark them among the next generation of scientific leaders.

One on one with Davita L. Watkins: Samantha Theresa Mensah is studying aptamer-based field-effect transistors with the goal of neurotransmitter detection in vivo. She is a cofounder of the #BlackinChem movement.

Culture change needed for women in COVID-19 era. Nisia Trindade Lima, the first female president of Brazil’s Fiocruz health institute in its 120-year history, speaks about the challenges of integrating scientific and social research, closing the gender gap, and tackling disinformation on vaccines.

Entomologist Esther Ngumbi receives 2021 AAAS Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science. Esther Ngumbi, an entomologist whose “prolific engagement efforts have impacted the lives of farmers, students, and others,” will receive the 2021 Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Astronomer and artist receives AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement. Annette S. Lee, an astrophysicist and artist, will receive the 2021 AAAS Early Career Award for Public Engagement in Science for “her collaborative, culturally relevant and community-focused projects grounded in indigenous knowledge of the stars.”

A feminine touch: Women have contributed immeasurably to science, but many do not realize that the first person to be called a “scientist” was in fact a woman. According to Joe Schwarcz, there were no “scientists” as such until 1833 when English philosopher William Whewell coined the term to describe Scottish mathematician and astronomer Mary Somerville in his review of her paper “On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences” published in the “Quarterly Review.”

For women in economics, the hostility is out in the open. New research details how men and women are treated differently when they make economic presentations.


Diagnostics Needs for Infectious Diseases in the Developing World. In this talk, Dr. Megan Murray, a Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will outline some of the steps involved in WHO's process of developing target product profiles and developing guidelines around the use of diagnostic tests.


The Prize for Enhancing Faculty Gender Diversity seeks to recognize those institutions whose biomedical and behavioral science departments, centers, or divisions have achieved sustained improvement in gender diversity. In addition to public recognition for their efforts in enhancing gender diversity, this NIH competition will also award a prize of $50,000 to each institution (up to ten institutions) with the best overall systemic approaches. The total prize purse for this competition is $500,000.

Europe launches recruitment drive for female and disabled astronauts. The European Space Agency (ESA) have launched their first recruitment drive for new astronauts in 11 years. ESA is looking to boost the diversity of its crews with particular emphasis on encouraging women and people with disabilities to join missions to the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

Apply now for The Tory Burch Fellowship at the IGI. The fellowship supports a woman entrepreneur in leading, growing, and scaling a business in genomics.  

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


RFS Briefings - February 16, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

On 11 February 2021, the United Nations Headquarters held the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science – and the theme this year celebrated the women scientists at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Here are just some of the women in STEM around the globe who have been making a difference during the pandemic:

  • Dr. Özlem Türeci, co-founder of biotechnology company BioNTech, which helped produce the first vaccine.
  • Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Chief Scientist who has been coordinating international work on vaccine development.
  • Ramida Juengpaisal, who built a COVID-19 tracker for Bangkok – overnight.
  • Professor Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford Project Lead for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • Somaya Faruqi, who developed a low-cost, lightweight ventilator in Afghanistan.
  • Neema Kaseje, the Founder of Surgical Systems Research Group in Kenya, which seeks to rapidly expand access to health services.
  • Professor Devi Sridhar, Professor and Chair of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University, and a leading authority on COVID-19 in the UK.
  • Dr. Anggia Prasetyoputri, who was awarded the 2020 L’Oréal-UNESCO National Fellowship For Women in Science (FWIS) by L’Oréal Indonesia for her research on bacterial coinfections in COVID-19 patients using swab sample sequencing.

In other news, The Vilcek Foundation launched its latest coloring book celebrating the scientific careers and contributions of 19 outstanding scientists​, including of course Rosalind Franklin, and several RFS board members and speakers. The book includes descriptions of each of the 19 featured scientists’ work, accompanied by illustrations of the scientists, as well as a list of organizations that support gender equity and diversity in STEM.

In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating the incredible research of Black scientists. Follow us on Twitter! According to Martina G. Efeyini, a toxicologist, science communicator and STEM advocate, movements such as #BlackInMicro and #BlackInChem started because the organizers realized that they did not see scientists who looked like them, and they wanted that to change. These movements made learning about Black scientists more accessible and changed the narrative of what a scientist looks like. They also created a safe space and an environment where encouraging the next generation of Black scientists was at the forefront.” 

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 in these trying times,  

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


Research! America to honor public health leadership and innovation in the United States’ response to the pandemic. The BUILDING THE FOUNDATION AWARD, recognizing individuals whose basic research discoveries played a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19, will be awarded to Katalin Karikó, PhD, a Senior Vice President of BioNTech, and Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, Director of Vaccine Research and Professor of Medicine, Infectious Diseases Division, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.

The CLEAR VOICE AWARD will honor two individuals whose effective communication of important health and science information to the public contributed to the fight against COVID-19. Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS, RET), the Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Michelle A. Williams, SM, ScD, Dean of the Faculty, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Angelopoulos Professor in Public Health and International Development. 

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984, will be honored for his continued leadership in service to our nation with the OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN PUBLIC HEALTH AWARD

Postage stamp to honor female physicist who many say should have won the Nobel Prize. Chien-Shiung Wu, a Chinese-American physicist, proved, essentially, that the universe knows its right hand from its left. She never received a Nobel Prize for her demonstration of the effect called parity violation. Now, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will issue a stamp commemorating Chien-Shiung Wu on 11 February, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

Chien-Shiung Wu won numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science in 1975.

New research to explore seaweed for ocean, economic health. Nichole Price, a Senior Research Scientist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, is leading a project that will lay the scientific foundations for a new tool to help restore the health and productivity of our oceans. The researchers will receive a nearly $900,000 grant that will explore how kelp aquaculture can remediate negative effects of climate change.

This COVID-vaccine designer is tackling vaccine hesitancy — in churches and on Twitter. Kizzmekia Corbett, an immunologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), debunks misinformation and shares virus science with her more than 100,000 followers on Twitter. She is one of the scientists who in early 2020 helped to develop an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19, in collaboration with biotech firm Moderna of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Kizzmekia Corbett is an immunologist at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Pull Up a Chair with Dr. Freire: The COVID Conversations. In this new podcast, Dr. Maria Freire, President and Executive Director of the FNIH, interviews leading researchers and healthcare partners who are working tirelessly to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. She was a speaker at a recent RFS Board Meeting & Colloquium.

Congratulations to the outstanding mathematicians and theoretical physicists who have been awarded Simons Fellowships in 2021! The Simons Fellows program extends academic leaves from one term to a full year, enabling recipients to focus solely on research for the long periods often necessary for significant advances.

Yale postdoc wins first Cell Press Rising Black Scientists Award. Chrystal Starbird is a postdoctoral fellow who works in the Ferguson Lab at the Yale Cancer Biology Institute. She recently won the first Cell Press Rising Black Scientists Award for an essay detailing her experiences as a person from an underrepresented group in science. It will be published in the February issue of the journal Cell.

NATO scientists study the role of women in combat units. A new study by the NATO’s Science and Technology Organization (STO) found that many NATO and partner countries are integrating women into ground close combat units and the roles open to women are increasing.

Zoe Donaldson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology & Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. Fascinated by the central role of love in art, literature, and everyday life, Zoe Donaldson decided to investigate the neuroscience of this powerful emotion. In 2016, she realized that she was in the ideal position to take advantage of newly emerging optical techniques to investigate brain function, and started applying these methods to voles.

Pandemic hit academic mothers especially hard, new data confirm. New survey on 20,000 scientists shows that mothers suffered a 33% larger drop in research hours compared with fathers during pandemic. Mothers also spent more time on child care and housework than fathers. 

22 pioneering women in science history you really should know about: We’ve all heard of Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin and Marie Curie, but there are many more famous women in STEM that deserve your attention. Katherine Johnson was a mathematician who worked on NASA’s early space missions and was portrayed by Taraji P Henson in the film Hidden Figures. She was one of the “computers” who solved equations by hand during NASA’s early years. Grace Hopper was a pioneering computer programmer and one of the first women to achieve a PhD in mathematics.

6 women who are changing chemistry as we know it: Here are the stories of six chemists – three of them Nobel Prize winners – who are performing incredible research in the fields of medicine, biotechnology, space science, forensics, and more.

As more women enter science, it’s time to redefine mentorship: “Mentoring is not just about opening the door,” says Audrey Murrell, a professor of business administration, psychology, and public and international affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. “It’s about making people feel welcome. It’s about developing them, it’s about providing for the whole person.”

Science Not Politics: How Dr. Rochelle Walensky is Saving the CDC. “My CV makes it look easy, but it hasn’t always been. For every paper or grant I have submitted, 80 to 90 percent of them have been rejected, which is why I tell my students they have to love the pursuit of the question,” says the CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

Women scientists are bearing the brunt of COVID-19′s impacts. As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches almost a year within the United States, it is clear that those who have suffered the most are working mothers, as well as beginning academics, writes Kristen Vogt Veggeberg for Massive Science.

Breaking the science glass ceiling: four African women share what it took. Less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. In this article, four African women scientists share their experiences in forging STEM careers. Professor Aina Adeogun’s personal principle is: “If there is one reason why a particular concept will work, then pursue that one reason and leave out the 50 reasons why it won’t work.”

Teen founds initiative to bring STEM to young, inner-city girls: 'I want them to see that you can be a woman of color and still go into this field'. “The goal behind every single event I do, whether I have the girls come to me at a big Girls Empowerment STEM Event or whether I go to them in the schools or in the community centers, is to make science fun and accessible for them,” said 17-year-old Jacqueline Means.


Breakthrough Festival: A Celebration Of Women In STEM. From February 15-21, join Science Friday and 500 Women Scientists for a celebration amplifying the voices of women scientists. This is a science learning event series for all ages featuring interactive online activities and conversations highlighting equity and women in STEM. Each day will focus on a video from the Breakthrough series produced by Science Friday and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios.

BIG Discussions about CRISPR: A Black History Month Conversation. Join experts in the field to learn about CRISPR genome editing and celebrate Black excellence in genetics. (February 25, 2021 at 6pm EST)


Apply now for the GMiS STEM Scholarships: The application period for the 2021-22 academic year is open. The deadline is April 30, 2021.Applications are open to any graduating high school senior, undergraduate, or graduate student, from a traditionally underserved or underrepresented group in science, technology, engineering, math or health.



Marianna Limas, Social Media Manager 

Nilda Rivera, Partnership and Events Manager










RFS Briefings - February 1, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

STAT’s biotech podcast, "The Readout LOUD", recently dedicated an entire episode to Sharon Begley, their revered and beloved colleague who died this month from complications of lung cancer. First, STAT’s Eric Boodman discussed Sharon’s path-breaking career and what he learned from reporting out her obituary. Then, a trio of STAT editors called in to talk about what it was like to work with Sharon, and they heard from a number of her colleagues about what made her a singular writer, mentor, officemate, and friend. 

Sharon Begley speaking at a Rosalind Franklin Board Meeting and Colloquium.
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 in these trying times,  

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


Janet Woodcock to lead FDA on interim basis. Janet Woodcock, who has led the Food and Drug Administration’s drug review efforts for years, is slated to oversee the agency on an interim basis. Dr. Woodcock joined the FDA in 1986, and has most recently overseen the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. 

All-female team delivers COVID-19 vaccines by snowmobile in harshest of conditions in rural Alaska. The team of one medical doctor, one pharmacist, and two nurses traveled in one day by plane, sled and snowmobile to deliver the vaccine to people across rural northern Alaska. "It's just such an incredible opportunity to work with them," said Meredith Dean, a 25-year-old resident pharmacist, for Good Morning America. "It was definitely an impactful and powerful moment to realize that we've all braved quite a bit to get there and provide care." 

‘Inspired choice’: Biden appoints sociologist Alondra Nelson to top science post. Alondra Nelson has been appointed deputy director of science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “She understands exactly what is needed to ensure that research has maximum impact on policy,” according to Kate Crawford, a senior principal researcher at Microsoft. “I think that is the real gift that the White House is getting” with Nelson on the team, she said in an article for Nature News.

Alondra Nelson, president of the Social Science Research Council and the Harold F. Linder Professor of Social Science at the Institute or Advanced Study. Credit: Dan Komoda.

The University of Western Australia’s first female math professor receives highest Australia Day honors. Professor Cheryl Praeger is one of just four people Australia-wide to be awarded a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia. She was acknowledged for her eminent service to mathematics; to tertiary education; to international organizations; as a leading academic and researcher and as a champion of women in STEM careers.

Princeton researchers study the many impacts of COVID-19. Within days of shutting down their laboratories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Princeton researchers were asking how they could help. As people began working from home, Maria Micaela Sviatschi, assistant professor of economics and public affairs in Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, decided to analyze the increase in domestic violence. Although the study is not yet complete, some women reported abusive behaviors. To study the effect of business shutdowns, assistant professors of economics Natalie Cox and Arlene Wong, with co-authors at the University of Chicago, examined bank account data from millions of customers. They found that household spending plunged similarly across all income levels in March and April 2020, and that government payments appear to have benefited low-income households.

Diversity in STEM

We need STEM mentors who can reduce bias and fight stereotypes. Building a diverse and highly-skilled generation of scientists begins by example. To thrive, women in STEM need a mentoring environment that allows them to be heard and acknowledged. “Mentors must actively engage trainees while listening and allowing for their intellectual independence. In chaotic and unpredictable times, creating a sensitive and dynamic generation of scientists begins by example,” writes Stephanie Knezz, an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Chemistry at Northwestern University.

Making science fair: Applying psychology to create equity in STEM. In this webinar, Aziza Belcher Platt discusses the impact of systemic inequity at both a personal and societal level and provides tools to assess racial-cultural identities, intersections, and experiences. 


Listen to this episode of Lightbulb Moment with Wyss Institute 's Technology Translation Director Angelika Fretzen, where she discusses business, entrepreneurship, pharmaceuticals, and their relevance in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Certain of her own exceptional nature, physician Elizabeth Blackwell dismissed those who aided her. In The Doctors Blackwell: How Two Pioneering Sisters Brought Medicine to Women—and Women to Medicine, Janice Nimura writes that “when the Blackwell sisters died, there were more than nine thousand women doctors in the United States, about six percent of all physicians.” “Today,” Nimura continues, “thirty five percent of physicians—and slightly more than half of all medical students—are female.” 

Ten suggestions for female faculty and staff during the pandemic: 1) Find a peer group of women to provide professional support, 2) When you have energy to do more than the minimum, use that in support of women and underrepresented groups, 3) Whatever help you can get, take it, 4) Do your best to remember that others are struggling too—be empathetic and work to build a community, and more.

Why you should ‘be an actor, not an ally’ for women in STEM. Anna Rafferty, director of strategy at Johnson & Johnson Ireland, talks about the company’s program to support women in STEM. “Don’t focus on raising awareness,” she said. “What I would say is be an actor, not an ally. And do get out there and get active. But I think also join forces with others; don’t try and do it on your own.

A fireside chat with Vicki Sato. Dr. Vicki Sato is a chairman of the board at Vir Biotechnology and Denali Therapeutics. In this episode of Science Rehashed, Dr. Vicki Sato shares her eclectic career journey and some hard-earned lessons, as well as the changing face of the biotech industry and the current urgency of science-driven entrepreneurship.

Opinion: Peer review study compromises response to gender bias. Ada Hagan and colleagues analyzed the peer-review outcomes from 108,000 manuscript submissions to 13 American Society for Microbiology (ASM) journals. Their study found a consistent trend for manuscripts submitted by women corresponding authors to receive more negative outcomes than those submitted by men. In an opinion piece, she argues that a recent analysis that claimed no evidence of gender-based peer review outcomes fails to account for several factors.


New book: Women: Why equality, health and safety matter to everyone. “Women have too long been an afterthought: denied equal opportunity at home and in society and ignored by science. Recent decades brought progress toward some measure of parity, but yawning gaps remain, and some are growing, threatening to undermine everyone’s well-being.” This new book highlights research on the scientific and economic implications of gender disparity in the realms of economics, politics, education and health care. 

The Science of Mentorship Podcast: In this episode, Dr. Akiko Iwasaki tells the story of her journey through STEMM academia and beyond as a woman from Japan. There were times she was discouraged from continuing her studies, but supportive mentors guided her through difficult situations. Dr. Akiko Iwasaki is a professor and researcher in immunology at the Yale School of Medicine. She has contributed significant research to the field of innate immunity against multiple viruses and cancer. She was a speaker at our recent meeting Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections. 

Dr. Akiko Iwasaki,
Yale School of Medicine.


Don't miss these 2 eSymposia virtual meetings, held jointly. "Obesity: From Cell to Patient" and "Diabetes: Many Faces of the Disease," February 1-3, 2021. 

Apply today for the 2021 Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation! The winner is awarded US$25,000 and publication of an essay in Science. The Science & PINS Prize is awarded for innovative research that modulates neural activity through physical (electrical, magnetic, optical) stimulation of targeted sites in the nervous system with implications for translational medicine.

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


RFS Briefings - January 19, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

President-elect Joe Biden is signaling that scientists will assume prominent roles in his administration! He named Nobel chemistry laureate Frances Arnold, a pioneer in synthesizing artificial proteins, and MIT Vice President for Research Maria Zuber, a planetary scientist who led efforts to map the surfaces of the moon and Mars, to head the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. They will be the first women to co-chair the council. Biden plans to make the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy a Cabinet-level agency. Alondra Nelson, the president of the Social Science Research Council, will serve as the OSTP’s deputy director for science and society.

Eric Lander, Frances Arnold, and Maria Zuber. Credit: Biden-Harris Transition (Lander), Caltech (Arnold), Bryce Vickmark (Zuber), via C&EN.

Sharon Begley, Senior writer at STAT, sadly passed away on January 16th in Boston. Sharon was a great leader at STAT, and interviewed by Mary Ann Liebert last year at our colloquium at the Wistar Institute. She will be greatly missed. 

Sharon Begley. Courtesy Ned Groth

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 in these trying times,  

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society


Inside the C.I.A., she became a spy for planet Earth. Linda Zall is disclosing how she toiled anonymously within the intelligence agency to help scientists intensify their studies of climate change. “She was an amazing leader,” said Michael B. McElroy, a planetary physicist and professor of environmental studies at Harvard. “She had energy and enthusiasm and a wonderful ability to communicate with people” — as well as the tact to handle large egos. “Having this woman from the C.I.A. telling them what to do wasn’t easy. It was amazing to watch her.”

Dr. Zall in Alaska in 1973.Credit..via Linda Zall/The New York Times.

Female scientists focus on a secret weapon to fight climate change: Moms. Climate researcher Katharine Hayhoe has teamed up with five fellow climate scientists to found Science Moms, a group that aims to demystify climate change, talk honestly about how it will affect their children and give moms the facts they need to take action. The campaign has a website featuring facts and resources, including links to books on talking to kids about climate and a form for contacting elected officials.

“As the new C.D.C. Chief, I’ll tell you the truth, even when the news is bleak. Rochelle P. Walensky has been chosen by President-elect Joe Biden to be the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I promise to work with my colleagues at the C.D.C. to harness the power of American science to confront the enormous challenges we face,” she wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times.

Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH. Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Fifteen-year-old Gitanjali Rao is a scientist, inventor, and TIME Magazine's first-ever 'Kid Of The Year.' In this episode of Short Wave, she shares why she didn't initially think science was for her, what motivates her now, and a bit of advice for other budding innovators.

Developmental Biologist Kathryn Anderson dies at 68. Kathryn Anderson, a developmental biologist at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center known for her work detailing the genetics of early embryogenesis, died November 30 at age 68. For her contributions to the field of developmental biology, Anderson was inducted into the National Academy of Sciences in 2002 and elected as a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2008.

Sisters who kicked down the door of the US medical establishment. Writer and historian Janice Nimura reveals the struggles faced by the first female physician in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell, and her sister Emily, also a doctor, in a new book, The Doctors Blackwell. According to Hannah Wunsch, “it took until 2017 for women to make up more than half of US medical-school enrolment. And scepticism remains rampant that a woman, or a physician from a minority group, can wield a scalpel or provide expert advice as well as a white man.”

One page at a time, Jess Wade is changing Wikipedia. By day, Jess Wade is an experimental physicist at Imperial College London. But at night, she writes entries about women and POC scientists on Wikipedia. In this episode of Short Wave, she chats with Emily Kwong about how Wikipedia can influence the direction of scientific research and why it's important to have entries about scientists from under-represented communities.

Meet 10 female scientists instrumental in developing COVID-19 vaccines around the world. “The various vaccines which have been developed in different parts of the world stem from the brain-racking and hard-work of many exemplary women who are dedicated to the cause of liberating the humankind from the clutches of the virus,” writes Sugandha Bora.  

MIT Society of Women Engineers’ journey into virtual connection. “When the student body was sent home last March in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the MIT Society of Women Engineers (SWE) faced its biggest challenge yet — transitioning nearly 70 in-person programming events to an entirely virtual experience,” writes Stephanie Tran. In addition to promoting diversity among women engineers, SWE seeks to introduce students of all ages, from grade school to high school, to STEM fields. 

Gwynne Shotwell talks about selling flight-proven rockets, Starship. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, believes 2020 was a year of highlights. "There's probably 10 things that I would look back on this year and say were extraordinary.” Safely launching astronauts was probably the biggest one, however. "Getting Bob and Doug to orbit and back safely, especially in that timeframe, it was such a terrible time in the world, that was great," she said.

Diversity in STEM 

‘I was no longer pretending or hiding’: a trans scientist finds a lab to call home. In an article for Nature News, materials scientist Clara Barker praises the University of Oxford for creating a welcoming space. “What’s most inspiring about our lab is the people I work with: they accept me and treat me as a scientist, so that I can just focus on my work. Since I came here in 2015, Oxford has given me a platform for me to share my story as a trans scientist through talks and articles. It’s such a privilege and an honour to have that visibility,” Barker says.

How to include Indigenous researchers and their knowledge. Despite long-standing calls to increase diversity on university campuses, Indigenous researchers remain poorly represented in STEM fields. Nature spoke to four Indigenous academic scientists about the challenges they face, and how scientists can respectfully and effectively bring together traditional knowledge and Western science.    

Lack of support undermines minority and female chemistry PhDs. A recent paper shows that graduate students from a racial/ethnic group traditionally underrepresented in chemistry were significantly less likely than other students to report that their financial support was sufficient to meet their needs. They were also less likely to report having supportive relationships with peers and postdocs, and advisors. 

Women and minorities in weather and climate fields confront harassment, lack of inclusion. Professional scientific groups, like The American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), say they are ideally positioned to create change. According to the Washington Post, more than 120 science societies in 2019 banded together to form the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM to coordinate standards of conduct and share information.


The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a new podcast, The Science of Mentorship. This 10-part series explores how students in STEMM can discover more of their potential when they have responsive and effective mentors, told through the personal stories of top researchers in the United States. Learn how evidence-based mentorship practices can help you develop the skills to engage in the most effective STEMM mentoring relationships possible. The first episode features the incoming Chair of the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, Dr. Gilda Barabino. 

Founded by 500 Women Scientists, Gage is a new global search platform where journalists, media outlets, conference planners and others seeking brilliant voices in science can discover women and gender minorities in STEMM. Their mission is to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible.


Nominations are now open for the National Academy of Medicine's 2021 Gustav O. Lienhard Award for Advancement of Health Care and Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health. Help the NAM recognize health care services pioneers and mental health innovators - nominate a colleague today! Nominations will remain open until April 16, 2021. 

The Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain is launching a Bridge to Independence Award! SCGB's BTI facilitates the transition of the next generation of systems and computational neuroscientists to research independence by providing grant funding at the start of their professorships. This request for applications (RFA) is aimed at Ph.D. and M.D.-holding scientists who are currently in training positions but intend to seek tenure-track research faculty positions during the upcoming academic job cycle. Fellows will receive a commitment of $495,000 over three years, activated upon assumption of a tenure-track research professorship.


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

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