What is one of your favorite pastimes or hobbies?
Urban farming and sharing the produce from my efforts with neighbors and friends.
I enjoy vigorous physical activity of all kinds and enjoy making it part of my daily health regiment for keeping my energy level and creativity high.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
I take great pride in my students and their accomplishments. The amazing discoveries that we have made in my laboratory over the years are a tribute to their hard work and dedication. It is such a privilege to be a part of their lives and professional growth during their late teens and into their twenties. When I was going through grade school, each grade that I took I decided that I wanted to be a teacher for that grade. Then the same for middle school, high school and college. There is no better job in the world than being an educator. That I can combine my desire to teach with my love of science makes for an incredibly fun and rewarding career.
I am equally proud of my work to help women scientists and engineers pursue their career aspirations through the COACh program that I have led for 20 years. Since COACh started in 1997, over 15,000 women in the US have participated in the COACh career building workshops that have been held all over the world. It is so incredibly rewarding to hear the stories of how COACh programs have changed the lives of so many women scientists and engineers that just needed validation, encouragement and a few extra skills to propel them towards success. Although I am quite happy with the many male friends and colleagues that I have worked with over the years, I need to have an equal number of women friends and colleagues to provide a counterbalance. Given the disproportionate number of men in my field, all the smart and highly motivated women scientists and engineers from all over the world that I have met through COACh have given me that balance.
Do you have any advice for students in middle and high school and/or for their parents?
Always make important life decisions when you are at the top of your game. Otherwise you will underestimate your abilities if you make those decisions when you are feeling down about yourself.
What is one fact about you personally or professionally that your colleagues on the Board would be surprised to learn?
How much I enjoy being on the Board and how much I value the opinions and perspective of every single member of the Board. The diversity of experiences and insights that individual members bring to the Board makes for very rich discussions and aids greatly in the decision making process.
If you could do it all over again, would you? Why or why not?
Yes. Every single step of the way. It’s been more interesting, challenging and rewarding than I ever anticipated when I was a young girl back in Kansas.
What prompted your initial interest in STEM?
What do you think individuals who are interested in going into a science or science education career should know?
Science is all about trial and error. It is also about taking risks. If even 10% of my ideas turn out to be successful then I am happy as that means that I am taking risks that really explore the unknown. And if I can learn something useful from my ideas that didn’t work out as planned, it’s an additional win.
What would you like people to know about the National Science Board?
It’s an incredibly dedicated, thoughtful and hardworking group of individuals that share a passion for making this country the best that it can be through science, technology and innovation.
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