Women scientists: Who is your real-life science hero?


Who’s Your “Science Hero” That Inspired You to Become a Scientist?

We all have professional superheroes who inspire and guide us through our careers.

Rossana Maguina, M.S., Biologist, first heard of Dr. Nathan Muchhala during her undergraduate student. She was inspired by his work. In 2014 she became his Masters’ student and met her science hero!

When Dr. Anya Brown, Marine Ecologist, was an undergrad she read some papers about snails and mussels on rocky intertidal shores by Jane Lubchenko and was hooked from thereon. Brown inspired into the field by the powerful female scientist who became even more of a science hero when Lubchenko became the head of NOAA.

Marine Biologist & Artist, Heather Hillard, M.S., grew up admiring Diane Fossey, the Jane Goodall of Gorillas. As an animal lover, Hillard was just enamored with this woman who traveled and explored unknown territories and worked with amazing, gorgeous creatures while actively working against poaching.

Growing up Kat Behesti, Marine Ecologist, was more into sports than science. But, when she studied science in undergrad she met Dr. Peter Bullard who became her real-life science hero!

Dr. Jenan Kharbush, Chemical Oceanographer/ Microbial Biogeochemist, was obsessed with the book The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson an author and naturalist. She was inspired by the beauty of the formation of the oceans and the life in the oceans.

Marine Biologist, Dr. Beth Lenz’s real-life science hero was the incredible Madame Curie, physicist, and chemist. Curie was the first female scientist Lens learned about in 4th grade and was blown away by how far a woman could take her career and that there aren’t any limits to what you can do. It opened her eyes to the possibilities in her own life.

If you had problems knowing between fictional and non-fictional as a child, you weren’t alone. Amelia Munson, Behavior Ecologist, didn’t realize that non-fictional scientists were real. So for her, female scientists like Jane Goodall were essentially stories. It wasn’t until she met Dr. Susie Wren who studies fish that Munson realized this was something women could actually do.

Sammy Davis, Ecologist has a different perspective, though. She doesn’t like the idea of “Heroes” because it can put the idea that we can all do this work out of reach. While there have been amazing scientists and they have done great work. But, for Davis, it is important to see scientists as real people who do heroic things. Bringing scientists to an everyday level of a normal person doing important work, the more people can believe in themselves. We can all be scientists.

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