Briefings

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
www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org

News

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.

Resources 

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.

Opportunities 

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

 

RFS Briefings - January 5, 2021

Dear Colleagues, 

As we begin a new year, we are all hoping for all the progress of science and the promise of new discoveries, worldwide.

Laying the groundwork for this optimism, I encourage you to take advantage of the recordings of our 2020 end-of-year virtual meeting which took place on December 16 and 17: Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections. This is an incredibly rich collection of presentations which will introduce you to several amazing young scientists, some eminent leaders you may already know, and exciting new voices to help us see that Black Scientists Matter!

And, before we completely leave 2020 behind, I urge you to visit the presentations from our 4-part series of Women in Science hosted with Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. You do not want to miss these:

  • The Life and Times of Rosalind Franklin: British biologist and author Dr. Matthew Cobb explores Franklin’s contribution to DNA structure and how they have been seen in popular culture.
  • The Empowerment of Having a Lab of One’s Own: Dr. Rita Colwell, president of the Rosalind Franklin Society, is a pioneering microbiologist and the first woman to lead the National Science Foundation. She is a Distinguished University Professor at both the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • The Great Convergence: How Biology and Engineering Unite to Reshape our World. Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Susan Hockfield, who served as president of MIT from 2004–2012, shares her views of the future that she lays out in her recent book, The Age of Living Machines: How Biology Will Build the Next Technology Revolution.
  • Conversation with special guest Nobel Prize Laureate Jennifer Doudna, PhD (University of California, Berkeley/HHMI) was recently awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD,  a microbiologist at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. Doudna has embraced her leadership role, spearheading vital discussions about the ethics of hereditary genome editing, championing the value of basic academic research, and serving as an inspirational role model for 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 in these trying times,  

Karla Signature

Karla Shepard Rubinger
Executive Director
Rosalind Franklin Society
www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org
 

News

Researchers retract controversial female mentorship paper. The authors of a study that suggested female scientists who have female mentors have worse career outcomes have retracted the paper. Their conclusions, including a finding that “current diversity policies promoting female-female mentorships, as well-intended as they may be, could hinder the careers of women,” provoked social media outrage and criticism of their methods. Critics attacked both the study’s conclusions and the methods used to reach them, according to Science Magazine. 

Inside the C.I.A., She Became a Spy for Planet Earth. Read the amazing story of a behind-the-scenes scientist who was instrumental in harnessing the power of spy satellites to observe a wide range of environmental ills and change on the Earth’s surface. In an interview for The New York Times, Linda Zall talks about how she toiled anonymously within the intelligence agency to help scientists intensify their studies of a changing planet.

Dava Newman named director of MIT Media Lab. “Leading the legendary Media Lab is a dream for me, and I can’t wait to help write the next chapter of this uniquely creative, impactful, compassionate community,” Newman says. Currently she is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a faculty member in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology.

New MIT Media Lab Director Dava Newman. Image: Dominick Reuter

The engineer using science to build a better world after coronavirus. Dr. Pinar Keskinocak, the director of the Center for Health and Humanitarian Systems at Georgia Tech, is using her eclectic expertise and positions of leadership to fix crucial flaws in global operations, all while elevating the next generation of scientists. She is leading some of the top COVID-19 pandemic research and became president of The Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) this year.

Twist Bioscience plots its 'factory of the future' in Oregon, seeks to expand synthetic DNA client base. Twist, which manufactures synthetic DNA by writing it on a silicon chip platform, will build a 110,000-square-foot facility near Portland, Oregon, that will more than double its current production capacity by the time the facility is operational in 2022, according to Endpoints News. “We are expanding our customer base and ramping production of our products at an exceptional rate. The Factory of the Future allows us to support the increasing needs of our customers as they scale globally and plan for aggressive growth into synthetic biology and biopharma market segments we cannot serve today,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. Dr. Leproust was the winner of the 2020 Rosalind Franklin Award given by BIO, and she was a featured speaker at our recent RFS end-of-year virtual meeting:  Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections. You can view the presentations here.

How mRNA went from a scientific backwater to a pandemic crusher. For years, Katalin Karikó's work into mRNA therapeutics was overlooked by her peers. Now it's being used to develop two leading Covid-19 vaccines. She has been at the helm of BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine development. In 2013, according to the WIRED, she accepted an offer to become Senior Vice President at BioNTech after UPenn refused to reinstate her to the faculty position she had been demoted from in 1995. “They told me that they’d had a meeting and concluded that I was not of faculty quality,” she said. ”When I told them I was leaving, they laughed at me and said, ‘BioNTech doesn’t even have a website.’”

Documentary shares stories of harassment against women in STEM. “Picture a Scientist” cites a report on sexual harassment in STEM released in 2018 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine that estimates 50 percent of women faculty and staff in STEM have experienced sexual harassment. The documentary also features one of the RFS founders, Dr. Nancy Hopkins, who was central to the research at MIT to meticulously document the discrimination against female scientists in hiring, promotion, and even lab space!

 


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

 
 

RFS Briefings - December 21, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

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

Thank you to everyone who joined our end-of-year virtual meeting, Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections! It was truly inspiring to hear astounding accomplishments of women and minorities in science as well as significant challenges yet to be addressed. From groundbreaking research to prestigious awards and recognition, our event provided incredible access to emerging stars as well as those who continue to lead the way. Sessions covered the academic world as well as industry; corporations and start-ups; and U.S. and international colleagues and partnerships. In case you missed any sessions, you can watch them here.

Here are some photos from our event:

 



“Opening Remarks” with Mary Ann Liebert, Founder of the Rosalind Franklin Society, and Rita Colwell, President of the Rosalind Franklin Society.

 

“COVID-19 Research: News from the Front” with Karla Shepard Rubinger, Executive Director of Rosalind Franklin Society; Akiko Iwasaki, Immunologist at Yale University, and Angela Rasmussen, Virologist at Georgetown Center for Global Health Science and Security.

“How and When to Add Voices” with Karla Shepard Rubinger, Executive Director of Rosalind Franklin Society; Julianna LeMieux, Senior Science Writer at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News; Alexis Stutzman, Founder of Black in Genetics, and Raven Baxter, Founder of STEMbassy and Raven the Science Maven.

 “The Best of Both Worlds: Corporate Leadership meets Corporate Responsibility” with Cassandra Wesselman, Head of Clinical Solutions & Patient Empowerment at OnRamp Bioinformatics, Inc.; Nicole Boice, CEO and Founder of Global Genes; Yelena Wetherill, Director, Alliance Management, Business Development and Licensing (BD&L) at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), and Susan Tousi, Chief Product Officer and Senior Vice President at Illumina.
 
Congratulations to Endpoints News’ Women in Biopharma 2020! The report celebrates women at the forefront of subduing Covid-19 — either with diagnostics, vaccines or treatments — and honors those working day in and day out to address other equally pressing medical needs. 

 

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
www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org

News

Get to know Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Biden's CDC director pick. Biden tapped Walensky, chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, to lead the CDC."I began my medical career at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and I've spent my life ever since working to research, treat, and combat infectious diseases," she tweeted recently. "I'm honored to be called to lead the brilliant team at the CDC. We are ready to combat this virus with science and facts."

These nine women should have key roles in the new administration. “Given the long history of science advisors and cabinet positions held by white men, we are heartened that the incoming administration has made an explicit commitment to build a diverse administration that is intersectional, with women, nonbinary individuals and people of color elevated to senior positions. 500 Women Scientists strongly supports the appointment of outstanding women for leadership positions within the Biden-Harris administration; we know these women will be incredible assets to the administration, will value science, and will serve the nation with honor and dignity.”

The Memorial Sloan Ketter-ing Cancer Center (MSK) community mourns the loss of our esteemed colleague Kathryn Anderson. Dr. Anderson identified critical genes that control the development of the embryo, first in invertebrates (fruit flies) and subsequently in the mammal (mouse). At MSK, she is known for pioneering the use of forward genetics, which she had used in the fruit fly, in the study of mouse development.

‘Nobody sees us’: testing-lab workers strain under demand. “Doctors and nurses are very visible, but we work behind the scenes,” said Marissa Larson, a medical laboratory scientist supervisor at the University of Kansas Health System in an article for the New York Times. “And we are underwater.”

Women take the lead in vaccine development. The swift development of many vaccines for COVID-19 could end up being the biggest scientific advance in decades — and it has been driven by people who, in another era, never would have had a chance. Novavax’s team is led by Nita Patel, an immigrant from Gujarat, India. Her vaccine team is identified as “all-female.” The core work behind the mRNA approach comes from Katalin Karikó, a Hungarian-born émigré who came to the U.S. to work on RNA-related issues.

The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race. Katalin Karikó, a senior vice president at BioNTech, is the scientist behind the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. She spent the 1990s collecting rejections. Her work, attempting to harness the power of mRNA to fight disease, was too far-fetched for government grants, corporate funding, and even support from her own colleagues, according to an article on STAT News.

The 35-year-old scientist who led Moderna's efforts to create a COVID-19 vaccine. Hamilton Bennett, Senior Director of Vaccine Access and Partnerships at Moderna, has emerged as one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic, working feverishly and tirelessly behind the scenes throughout the year to help engineer a vaccine that could potentially save millions of lives.

AAAS announces 2021 Marion Milligan Mason Award Winners. Congratulations to Julia Kalow (Northwestern University), Gabriela Schlau-Cohen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Marissa Tremblay (Purdue University), and Lauren Zarzar (Pennsylvania State University) for winning the Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences.

From left, Julia Kalow, Gabriela Schlau-Cohen, Marissa Tremblay and Lauren Zarzar are the winners of the 2021 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences. | Courtesy of winners

AAAS announces leading scientists elected as 2020 fellows. Dr. Deborah Bronk, President of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and former CSSP Chair, has been named as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow. She was recognized for substantial research advances on the marine nitrogen cycle and for leadership in the ocean science research community. Bigelow Labs is an esteemed member of our Council of Academic Institutions.

Meet the team of women who want to eradicate Covid-19 under Biden. Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an expert on healthcare equity for marginalized communities, is one of three co-chairs on Biden's Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. Also included is FDA and National Security Council veteran Dr. Luciana Borio; HIV and tuberculosis expert and former NYC Department of Health Assistant Commissioner Dr. Celine Gounder; Dr. Julie Morita, executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and former head of the Chicago Department of Public Health; and Loyce Pace, executive director and president of Global Health Council, according to Know Your Value.

Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, Dr. Luciana Borio and Dr. Celine Gounder. Yale University via AP/Reuters/NBC

Fauci wants people to know that one of the lead scientists who developed the Covid-19 vaccine is a Black woman. "The very vaccine that's one of the two that has absolutely exquisite levels -- 94 to 95% efficacy against clinical disease and almost 100% efficacy against serious disease that are shown to be clearly safe -- that vaccine was actually developed in my institute's vaccine research center by a team of scientists led by Dr. Barney Graham and his close colleague, Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, or Kizzy Corbett," Anthony Fauci said.

Women of the Nobel factory share their stories. From sequencing to stardom — alumnae of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology reflect on how they succeeded in science. The LMB, a research institute with a headcount of more than 800 scientists and support personnel, claims 27 Nobel prizewinners among its staff and alumni.

One of these astronauts may be the first woman on the moon. “Our goal is to go to the moon sustainably, to learn how to live and work on another world,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a meeting of the National Space Council, announcing the names of the 18 astronauts selected for training. Of the 18, nine are women—and one of them might well be the first to walk on the moon. Half the group are experienced fliers, such as Christina Koch, who just set the record for the longest-duration spaceflight for a woman, according to an article on National Geographic. 

Penn State chemical engineering and Schreyer Scholar alumna Paula Garcia Todd has been named Woman of the Year in Engineering by Women in Technology (WIT). She was recognized at the virtual 2020 Woman of the Year in STEAM Awards Gala on Nov. 12. “Women in Technology holds a mission to ‘empower girls and women to excel in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math (STEAM) from the classroom to the boardroom,’” Garcia Todd said.

Congratulations to Dr. Natalie Kuldell, Founder and Executive Director of BioBuilder, for being named as one of the 26 winners for the Million Women Mentors (MWM) Trailblazer Awards, celebrating women in STEM.

Canan Dagdeviren wants more women in STEM to “not give up”.Being an independent woman in this century, in this country, is really difficult. At the beginning of my career, I was really affected by comments from my male colleagues. But then I realized, I don’t have time to respond. It's time for me to do my research and to answer those comments with my work. And so, that’s what I did,” says Canan Dagdeviren, a materials scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Rosalind Franklin University researcher elected AAAS Fellow. Judith Potashkin, PhD, Professor of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Director of Faculty Affairs for Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, has been elected to the rank of fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for her research on Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. Of course the Rosalind Franklin University is an esteemed member of our Council of Academic Institutions.

Catherine Dulac finds brain circuitry behind sex-specific behaviors. Catherine Dulac, a neuroscientist and developmental biologist at Harvard University, was awarded the $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in September, the richest single personal award in the scientific world. The citation for the prize hailed the success of her work, which connected behaviors to specific neural mechanisms and “overturned decades-old dogma in behavioral science.” 

Accounting for sex and gender makes for better science. At the end of last month, the European Commission announced that its grant recipients will be required to incorporate sex and gender analyses into the design of research studies. Science and scientists have a troubled history of failing to account for sex and gender when designing research. For decades, crash test dummies were based on male bodies, according to Nature.

Opportunities

Apply for Forbes Next 1000: The Next 1000 list celebrates the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups who are redefining what it means to build and run a business today, especially in the “new normal.”

Apply to be a 2021 FWIS Fellow: You could be awarded $60,000! They’re seeking five exceptional female scientists looking to advance their research and serve as role models for the next generation of girls in STEM. Candidates must have completed their PhD and have started in their postdoctoral research position by the application deadline. Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to apply. Applications due January 29, 2021.

Do you know a remarkable woman who exemplifies humanism in the healthcare arena? The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is seeking nominations for the 2021 Pearl Birnbaum Hurwitz Humanism in Healthcare Award, now until January 8. This prestigious award is presented annually to a woman who has demonstrated the values of humanism, empathy and compassion in her work with underserved or marginalized populations in the healthcare arena.

The British Council has launched a scholarship program in partnership with 19 UK universities aimed at benefiting women from the Americas, South Asia and South East Asia. Are you a woman with a degree in STEM subjects passionate about your study? You could receive a scholarship to study a master's degree in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics programme at a leading UK university.

 


 

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

 

RFS Briefings - December 8, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

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

We are happy to announce our end-of-year virtual meeting which will take place online over two half-days: December 16th and December 17th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm EST. The meeting “Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections” will highlight astounding accomplishments of women and minorities in science as well as significant challenges yet to be addressed. From groundbreaking research to prestigious awards and recognition, this free virtual event provides you with incredible access to emerging stars as well as those who continue to lead the way.  


Sessions will cover the academic world as well as industry; corporations and start-ups; and U.S. and international colleagues and partnerships. Thank you to Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), and Onramp Bioinformatics, Inc for supporting our meeting! Register here.

Jennifer Doudna PhD, the UC Berkeley biochemist who shared the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier PhD, was the recent guest of honor for the final episode in the “Women in Science” web series, co-organized by GEN and the Rosalind Franklin Society. Doudna discussed a broad range of topics, including how to celebrate a Nobel Prize in a pandemic, what the award means for women in science, her views on mentorship, and her decision earlier this year to launch a high-throughput COVID-19 diagnostic lab. 

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
www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org
 

News

They Made the ‘Pfizer Vaccine’. Dr. Ozlem Tureci and Dr. Ugur Sahin, the co-founders of BioNTech, are the husband-wife team who are behind the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the West. This week, the “Pfizer vaccine” will be available in Britain. BioNTech started working on a vaccine in January. By early November, the company shared the results of its Phase 3 trials: over 90 percent efficacy.

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey Elected as HHMI Trustee. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, University of Pennsylvania professor, and former president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), has been elected a Trustee of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the largest private biomedical research institution in the United States. Her appointment will begin on January 1, 2021.

Gwynne Shotwell, New Space editorial board member, was featured as one of Time’s collection of one of the 100 most influential people in 2020. “Gwynne Shotwell is living proof that you don’t need a space suit to be a space pioneer. Itching to build something after a decade’s work in the policy and analytical segments of the space sector, she jumped into the fledgling commercial space arena, becoming one of SpaceX’s earliest employees in 2002.”

L'Oréal Canada holds the 18th edition of the Canadian Awarding ceremony of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science fellowships and recognizes Canada's Top Rising Stars of science. "Never has science been more vital. This challenging year has certainly put a spotlight on the importance of science and research scientists in supporting our world's wellbeing. More than ever, the world needs science and science needs women," said Frank Kollmar, President and CEO of L'Oréal Canada, in his opening remarks.

UNESCO and Foundation L’Oréal recognize 20 young women scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 2010, this joint initiative rewards twenty women scientists each year for the excellence of their work, and supports them to pursue their research through grants of €10,000 for PhD students and €15,000 for post-doctorates.

Dr. Mary Fowkes, a neuropathologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan died on November 15 at her home in Katonah, N.Y., in Westchester County. She was 66, according to the New York Times. Dr. Cordon-Cardo, chairman of the department of pathology, molecular and cell-based medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said that the findings from the autopsies of Covid-19 patients done by Dr. Fowkes’s team had led to an aggressive increase in the use of blood thinners, resulting in a marked improvement in the health of some patients.

Women in STEM

Prof Sarah Gilbert: The woman who designed the Oxford vaccine. Prof. Gilbert describes the Oxford coronavirus vaccine as “a series of small steps - rather a big breakthrough moment.” "From the beginning, we're seeing it as a race against the virus, not a race against other vaccine developers," she said earlier this year. "We're a university and we're not in this to make money."

Prof Sarah Gilbert. Image: John Cairns, University of Oxford.


'It'll upset a few fellows': Royal Society adds Jocelyn Bell Burnell portrait.
 
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a British astrophysicist who made one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century, has joined the male-dominated portrait collection of the Royal Society. In 1967, she discovered a new type of star later called a pulsar, but the Nobel prize for physics in 1974 went not to her, but to her male PhD supervisor. She has since been a trailblazing promoter for women and the marginalized in science and was the first woman to be president of the Institute of Physics, according to The Guardian. 

Gitanjali Rao: Time magazine names teenage inventor its first ‘kid of the year’. A 15-year-old scientist and inventor has been named as Time magazine’s first “kid of the year”. In an interview with actor and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, Gitanjali said: “I don’t look like your typical scientist. Everything I see on TV is that it’s an older, usually white, man as a scientist.

Gitanjali Rao, Time magazine’s inaugural kid of the year, has used technology to address contaminated drinking water, opioid addiction and cyber-bullying. Photograph: Time/PA, via The Guardian.

How mRNA went from a scientific backwater to a pandemic crusher. For years, Katalin Karikó's work into mRNA therapeutics was overlooked by her colleagues. Now it's at the heart of two leading coronavirus vaccines. Karikó has been at the helm of BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine development since 2013, when she accepted an offer to become Senior Vice President at BioNTech. 

Kate Marvel: “With science plus action, things can get better.” “We can shape the future that we want.” Kate is the latest member of the Inverse Future 50, a group of 50 people who will be forces of good in the 2020s, and her message is that we can still fight off the worst of climate change. 

Asifa Akhtar is a sign of new things to come at the Max Planck Society. In July, the Pakistan-born molecular biologist became the first international woman to be named vice-president of the Max Planck Society’s Biology and Medicine Section. According to an article in Nature, a key focus for Akhtar in her new position is ensuring a more diverse cohort of young researchers sits at the forefront of German research. “I’m aware of the responsibility on my shoulders and I take it very seriously,” she says. “I want to show that there are role models who can push things forward.” 

Special Reports 2020's Fiercest Women in Life Sciences. 2020 has seen women make tremendous gains at the top, with Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president-elect and, on the biopharma side, Reshma Kewalramani ascending to the CEO spot at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, according to Fierce Pharma.

Leena Tripathi uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to protect bananas and other staple crops across Africa against killer pathogens. For more than two decades, Leena Tripathi has been working to improve several staple food crops in Africa, including bananas, plantains, cassavas and yams. As principal scientist and a plant biotechnologist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nairobi, she aims to develop varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases such as bacterial wilt, Fusarium wilt, and banana streak virus.

Teen Vogue’s 21 Under 21, 2020: The Girls and Femmes Building a Better Future. Meet Anika Chebrolu, a 14-year old Texan and a scientist. Earlier this year, she won the 3M Young Scientist Challenge for creating a possible cure for COVID-19. "To all other young girls who want to make a difference, I hope you all understand how important you are to this world! Do not let society’s standards hold you back from reaching your full potential,” she says.

STEM superstars call for more gender and cultural diversity. Associate Professor Kim-Anh Le Cao, astrophysicist Clare Kenyon, Dr. Kylie Soanes, Dr. Maria del Mar Quiroga and Priyanka Pillai have been named Australia's official Superstars of STEM by Science and Technology Australia. "My mission is to get people excited about urban nature," said conservationist biologist Kylie Soanes. "I have always loved sharing stories about science and nature with people. My research has enormous potential to engage broad audiences in science and nature conservation and I'm willing to step up and advocate for issues that are important."

UWA scientists named among Australia's superstars of STEM. A biotechnologist from The University of Western Australia who maps genomes of threatened animals to support Australian biodiversity and conservation has been named a superstar of STEM by Science & Technology Australia.

Ideas

According to the article “Women Physicians and Promotion in Academic Medicine, over a 35-year period, women physicians in academic medical centers were less likely than men to be promoted to the rank of associate or full professor or to be appointed to department chair, and there was no apparent narrowing in the gap over time.

The Curie Society aims to broaden perceptions of STEM female protagonists. “The Curie Society is a teen spy thriller centred around a team of brilliant women scientists. Our base mythology envisions a society founded by Marie Curie with her Nobel Prize winnings, with a mission of supporting the most brilliant female minds in the world. But due to the politics of her time, she kept the society underground so it couldn’t be corrupted by the same scientific patriarchy that she constantly had to deal with. In the modern day, the society has grown to have secret chapters at universities all over the world, and its members are always on the lookout for the best and brightest students to join their ranks,” says Heather Einhorn, founder of Einhorn Epic Productions.

The researcher fighting to embed analysis of sex and gender into science. Accounting for sex and gender differences should be mandatory in all research areas. "It's not about women — it’s about getting the research right," says Londa Schiebinger. Recalled drugs, unsafe products and even environmental chaos are just some of the consequences of research that doesn’t consider sex and gender, she says.

Perceptions of stereotypes applied to women who publicly communicate their STEM work. According to a study, systematic cultural and institutional change is needed in STEM fields to address the underlying bias and negative stereotypes facing women. However, it should be ensured that the intended solutions to facilitate this change are not compounding the problem.

The stress of being a young, female scientific expert during Covid-19.“It is hard enough to be on the public stage trying to explain your complicated scientific expertise to the general public when some of them don’t even believe the information, but is an added burden when you are a woman and that comes with death threats and harassment.” 

 


 

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

 

RFS Briefings - November 25, 2020

Dear Colleagues, 

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

We are happy to announce our end-of-year virtual meeting which will take place online over two half-days: December 16th and December 17th from 1:00pm to 5:00pm EST. The meeting “Labs, Leaders, Critical Connections” will highlight astounding accomplishments of women and minorities in science as well as significant challenges yet to be addressed. From groundbreaking research to prestigious awards and recognition, this free virtual event provides you with incredible access to emerging stars as well as those who continue to lead the way.

 

Sessions will cover the academic world as well as industry; corporations and start-ups; and U.S. and international colleagues and partnerships. Thank you to Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), and Onramp Bioinformatics, Inc. for supporting our meeting! Register here.

In case you missed our conversation with special guest Nobel Prize Laureate Jennifer Doudna, you can watch it now! CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, PhD (University of California, Berkeley/HHMI) was recently awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Emmanuelle Charpentier, PhD,  a microbiologist at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. Doudna has embraced her leadership role, spearheading vital discussions about the ethics of hereditary genome editing, championing the value of basic academic research, and serving as an inspirational role model for women in science.

Congratulations to Rita Colwell for receiving the American Geophysical Union’s 2020 William Bowie Medal! The award recognizes outstanding contributions to fundamental Earth and space science and cooperation in research. An online celebration will formally recognize Dr. Colwell during the AGU 2020 Fall Meeting (Wednesday, December 9, at 6 pm ET)

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
www.rosalindfranklinsociety.org


News

Nature Communications looking into paper on mentorship after strong negative reaction. A Nature journal has announced that it is conducting a “priority” investigation into a new paper claiming that women in science fare better with male rather than female mentors. The article, “The association between early career informal mentorship in academic collaborations and junior author performance,” appeared in Nature Communications on November 17. According to Retraction Watch, the paper drew immediate flak on Twitter, where commenters like Joshua Miller, of the University of Alberta, expressed a mix of anger and disappointment at the research and the journal. Check out the coverage by Science Magazine: After scalding critiques of study on gender and mentorship, journal says it is reviewing the work.

L'Oréal USA announces 2020 For Women In Science Fellows.The annual program awards five female postdoctoral scientists grants of $60,000 each to advance their research. Now in its 17th year, the For Women in Science program has recognized 85 postdoctoral female scientists and contributed over $4 million to the advancement of critical research in fields as diverse as neurobiology, metabolic diseases, physics and material science, integrative biology, and biomedical engineering.”

Congratulations to Wendy Brown, Silvania da Silva Teixeira, Nancy Padilla-Coreano, Kayla Nguyen, and Cara Brook. Courtesy of L’Oréal USA.


Congratulations to the winner of the James Dyson Award!
The Blue Box, invented by Judit Giro Benet from Tarragona, Spain, is an at-home, biomedical breast cancer testing device that uses a urine sample and an AI algorithm to detect early signs of breast cancer. “The Blue Box endeavours to change the way society fights breast cancer and to give all women in the world the chance to avoid an advanced diagnosis, making screening a part of our daily lives,” said Judit Giro Benet.

Judit Giro Benet. Image: The James Dyson Foundation.

Engineer who designs gels to mimic human tissues wins Canada's top science prize. Molly Shoichet, professor of chemical engineering and applied chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Tissue Engineering at the University of Toronto, is developing new materials that mimic human tissues. Her collaborations with biologists have led to applications to treat degenerative blindness, cancer, and stroke. She has won this year's $1 million Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal, the country's top science prize.

Molly Shoichet. Image: Sylvie Li/NSERC/CRSNG

The ‘Prussian Turk’ couple’s company BioNTech developed the breakthrough Covid vaccine with Pfizer: Meet Uğur Şahin, CEO of BioNTech, and Özlem Türeci, BioNTech’s chief medical officer, who founded BioNTech in 2008 with the Austrian oncologist Christoph Huber. Both scientists are the children of Turkish migrants who moved to Germany in the late 1960s. They are the “dream team” scientist couple who came up with a big idea that could protect humanity from a virus that has killed more than a million people, writes Philip Oltermann in an article for The Guardian.

The 1st Black female brigade commander at Naval Academy: 'I have the heart to do it' Midshipman 1st Class Sydney Barber of Lake Forest, Ill., is slated to be the U.S. Naval Academy's first African American female brigade commander. It's the highest student leadership position at the academy.

Cathy Foley appointed Australia's next chief scientist. The physicist, who has been with CSIRO for 36 years, is the second woman appointed to the role. Foley, whose work has focused on the physics behind superconductors, is an outspoken advocate of attracting more women to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Medical statistician wins prestigious award to celebrate women in STEM. Congratulations to Rhian Daniel from Cardiff University who has been chosen to receive a prestigious award celebrating the achievements of women working in STEM. The Suffrage Science Awards is in its third year and is curated by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences. Professor Dame Amanda Fisher, institute director, said the purpose of the awards was to “celebrate women scientists, their scientific achievements and ability to inspire others”.

In the UK, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity and Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) launched its new inquiry into Equity in the UK STEM workforce. The inquiry will examine how the Government and organizations employing STEM workers are helping to create a diverse and inclusive environment.

Opportunities

The Vilcek Foundation and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation will award a $10,000 prize to an outstanding immigrant professional in public health. Learn more and nominate a foreign-born healthcare worker today! Nominators may submit any foreign-born person living and working in the United States whose work in healthcare, medicine, or public health advocacy has demonstrated extraordinary humanism.

Now open for submissions: Apply today for the 2021 Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation. The Science & PINS Prize for Neuromodulation 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. Established in 2016, the prize is awarded annually for outstanding research as described in a 1,500 word essay based on research performed in the past three years.

Make a difference. Join the NIH Office of the Director, Scientific Workforce Diversity Office! This position will support efforts related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. As a Supervisory Social Science Analyst (COVID-19), your duties will include planning, developing, and implementing targeted workforce diversity research programs.

P&G’s Royal Oils and Gold Series announce ongoing commitment to support Black Women in STEM. Together with CVS this fall, P&G will award $200,000 in scholarships to Black women pursuing a degree in STEM subjects at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and UNCF member schools, facilitated through long-time higher education partner UNCF (United Negro College Fund).

Women in STEM

This scientist buoys a small firm’s quest to make a top-notch COVID-19 vaccine. Nita Patel, a senior director in the vaccine development department at Novavax, often works 18-hour days in the lab, and says, “People ask me if I’m tired, I don’t feel tired.” Watch this video to learn how she has supported the development of a potential vaccine in just 10 months.

Teresa Lambe is working with AstraZeneca to give the world a shot against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. “I’m fascinated with T cells as well as antibodies. T cells don’t prevent infections, but they do seek out and destroy infected cells. If we could develop a vaccine that triggers both T cells and antibodies, we’d have a double whammy that could provide strong protection against SARS-CoV-2,” she wrote in an article for Nature. 

Teresa ‘Tess’ Lambe is a vaccine investigator at the University of Oxford’s Jenner Institute, UK.

Radioactive: new Marie Curie biopic inspires, but resonates uneasily for women in science Radioactive, Jack Thorne’s screenplay adaptation of Lauren Redniss’ graphic novel, attempts to portray the drive and dedication Curie must have possessed to achieve her career success. “Radioactive reinforces what some women in male dominated STEM fields might still encounter today: women can be perceived as competent or likeable, but not both,” according to Merryn McKinnon, Senior lecturer at the Australian National University. 

How a communist physics teacher flattened the COVID-19 curve in southern India. In India, a former teacher who wasn't trained as a scientist devised the strategy to keep COVID-19 in check in the state of Kerala, with a mortality rate among the lowest in the world. “Until we get a vaccine, all of us will have to sacrifice some pleasures in our lives,” said K. K. Shailaja, health minister of India’s Kerala state, in an article for Science Magazine.

Undergraduate researcher Natalie Lo takes on cancer biology. Natalie Lo is one of 4 Stony Brook undergraduates to receive the Sass Foundation-Arena Scholars award recognizing research potential in URECA Summer applicants working in the field of cancer biology.

Ignite her curiosity: 60 children's books to inspire science-loving Mighty Girls. One great way to encourage a child's interest in science is by showing them role models of kids — particularly girls — in STEM fields. “In fictional stories, they can see faces that match their own: kids who are turning their ingenious minds to investigating questions and solving problems using the scientific method,” writes Katherine Handcock.

“Opening up about my invisible health condition:” Anne Charmantier reveals how she has learnt to be vulnerable and to share her experience of her chronic health problem with research colleagues and collaborators. “I now feel more secure and empowered, and I realize that my chronic condition has, in fact, been an important asset in my life, both personally and professionally. My condition has spurred me to accomplish as much as I can. It has fuelled my will and my enthusiasm to do research, and increased my empathy and kindness towards colleagues and students who are facing challenging times,” writes Charmantier in an article for Nature.

AAAS IF/THEN ambassadors inspire girls to pursue STEM. AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors are women innovators who serve as role models and inspire girls to pursue STEM careers. This month, the ambassadors received “reverse mentoring,” learning from middle and high school girls how to engage their audience on TikTok.

Searching symbols for the rules of change. Bryna Kra, a mathematician at Northwestern University, uses a modeling method called symbolic dynamics to hunt for patterns in complex systems like planets arcing through space or billiard balls bouncing around a table.

Ideas

New York University physician and epidemiologist Céline Gounder has straddled the worlds of medicine, government, and the media. She is now one of 13 people President-elect Joe Biden has named to a high-profile task force to help steer his response to the coronavirus pandemic. “Scientists and doctors and public health experts need to be front and center at press conferences, at daily briefings. Not political officials. Because by definition, once you have a political official communicating this it becomes politicized. It really doesn’t matter whether it’s a Republican or a Democrat, it is politicized,” said Gounder in an interview for Science Magazine. 

What is it like to be a black woman scientist? Do they feel invincible, less than their colleagues or like they belong? Are they in a constant battle to prove themselves, or do they feel free to focus on the thing they love – science? How do they deal with the stereotypes associated with being female, as well as those associated with being black?

In a conversation with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History, Rita Colwell will talk about her new book, A Lab of One's Own: One Woman's Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science and reflect on her six-decade journey in science, from her start as a graduate student at Purdue University through leading thousands of scientists investigating the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Register for the event on December 2, 2020.

Join this event for an evening of stories from women leading field research in partnership with the IF/THEN Ambassadors! Hosted by Story Collider’s Maryam Zaringhalam and Emma Young. Wednesday, December 9, 2020.

Four years after science took a hit, there’s hope. 500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization started by four women who met in graduate school at CU Boulder and who maintained friendships and collaborations after jobs and life took them away from Boulder. Since 2016, they have grown to thousands of members and almost 500 pods (local chapters) worldwide. They edited thousands of Wikipedia pages to make sure women’s contributions to science are acknowledged, created a platform to abolish manels and make it easy to find a woman scientist with expertise in any discipline, grew a network of thousands of women scientists and supporters who are working on making science open, inclusive and accessible, and launched a fellowship for women of color.

 


 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 
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