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International Day of Women in Science

Memorial University women talk about what inspires them

Campus and Community

For the first-ever International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the Gazette asked some of the faculty, staff and students of Memorial what inspired them to get into science.

If you have a story to tell about what inspired you, join the conversation on Twitter by tagging @MemorialU or on Facebook.

1/ Dr. Marie Clément, research scientist, CFER, Marine Institute in partnership with the Labrador Institute

What inspired me is likely what inspired many in science: curiosity of understanding processes and making new discoveries. In relation to fisheries science, what inspired me was the opportunity to be involved in decision-making by generating new knowledge and gathering information to assist in the management and conservation of natural resources.

Photo: Submitted

2/ Dr. Kelly Hawboldt, professor, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science

My mom. She was not a scientist but when she saw where my strengths were and what I liked in school (math, chemistry, biology, etc.) she made sure that my gender would not define my role in life. She never said 'you must go into science', but she did say 'you must do what makes you happy and do it to the best of your ability.' She gave me confidence but also humility (I hope) and I owe everything I am today to her."

Photo: Chris Hammond

3/ Dr. Laleh Alisaraie, assistant professor, School of Pharmacy

My first inspiration was at our home, my mother, a super smart woman with great problem-solving skills. She encouraged me to study hard and continue my education to the highest degree. I was about eight years old when I got my first two science books as gift; one was about astronomy and the other paleontology. I believe they changed the “coordination” of my ordinary childhood…those books were my first glances into the amazing world of science, way beyond what we learned at the school at that age. I cannot forget the inspiring role of my teacher, a young electronic engineer who taught us trigonometry in Grade 11. She always fascinated me with examples of how impressive design ideas in technology are rooted in mathematics and well-disciplined mind. I owe big thank you to these ladies!

Photo: HSIMS

4/ Dr. Francesca Kerton, professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science

My chemistry teacher at high school, Ms Jones, inspired me. She made learning science fun, practical and a real, interactive experience! She was dynamic and never afraid to make a fool of herself to try and help us remember ideas in class. I would not be here without her encouragement.

Photo: Chris Hammond

5/ Dr. Fern Brunger, associate professor, Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine

My research’s inspiration came from my community partner Darlene Wall. She had a real sense of excitement and energy about a community-university collaboration. She was interested in the question of what ethical research really means and how research could be improved for her community and this really resonated with me.

Photo: Wolf Photography

6/ Dr. Kathy Hodgkinson, assistant professor, Clinical Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine

I recognize the influence of strong, articulate, inspirational female teachers to whom I owe an enormous debt of gratitude for their unswerving support. My commitment is maintained by the rewards manifest when our research team make new discoveries, and seeing these translated into more effective health care. My ongoing inspiration comes from working with Newfoundland families, who are the most resourceful people I have ever met, and seeing my own children blossom in this wonderful province.

Photo: HSIMS

7/ Dr. Amanda Bittner, associate professor, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Arts

As a grad student it was all about a nerdy desire to “learn more” about political attitudes. This is still there (I’m still nerdy!) but I’ve had a chance to get to know tons of brilliant women in political science. Their achievements have really helped to hammer home the importance of working hard in what is still a man’s world.

Photo: Sheilagh O’Leary

8/ Dr. Meghan Burchell, assistant professor, Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Arts

During university, I saw a picture of an archaeological excavation in British Columbia. It was a shell midden and I was awestruck - a gigantic monument to 8000 years of human occupation built mostly with shells. Now, I use archaeology and geochemistry to understand how people interacted with their past environments.

Photo: Submitted

9/ Geetika Grover, second year M.Sc. kinesiology student, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation

My inspiration is my mother who has challenged me to do my best and prepared me to better my life. I am an international student at MUN. In academics and my professional world, I am proud to say that I am also influenced by my professors Drs. Button and Power who believe in me and give me the opportunity to learn more on a global scale.

Photo: Chris Hammond

10/ Dr. Penny Morrill, associate professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science

My determination to succeed stems back to 1984, the year I repeated Grade 3. Since that time I have gained inspiration from talented people who believed in me, including a high school science teacher, my climate change professor and my PhD supervisor. I am currently inspired by my very talented graduate students

Photo: Chris Hammond

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