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All-student celebration

Feb. 11: International Day of Women and Girls in Science

By Mandy Cook

Today, Feb. 11, is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

This year, the Gazette is marking the day with an all-student celebration of Memorial University’s woman scientists.

There are women from Belize, Canada and India; from the faculties of Engineering and Applied Science, Medicine and Science and the School of Pharmacy; and from the bachelor to the doctoral level.

They are all inspiring. They are all thriving in STEM. They represent Memorial’s next generation of woman scientists. Meet them all below!

1/ Amelia Jones, B.Sc.

"I believe that female representation is the single most important thing we need to encourage more women to get into STEM. There are Marie Curies and Rosalind Franklins found in all corners of our world, and we need to give them a platform for young girls to look up to and say: “If she can do it, I can do it.” I am not only a woman in STEM, but I am an Indigenous woman in STEM. I am always very vocal about my heritage because I know how few Indigenous women and girls get the opportunities I have been so thankfully blessed with. Representation matters, and we need to start convincing the world that being a woman isn’t a disadvantage; it’s an asset."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

2/ Radhika Verma, Pharm.D.

"Science is puzzle pieces waiting to be solved. If you, as a young woman, can even pick up one piece of the puzzle, you have made a difference to the science community. Whether you choose to create or support an already existing idea in science, I would 100 per cent put your hand forward in the pile. There are so many directions to go. All you have to do is follow your interest and stick to it even if it comes with challenges, as there are many others who would support you along the way."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

3/ Leanna Butters, PhD

"I’m really passionate about how built and natural spaces can impact the way people interact with one another. I love thinking broadly about complex questions that cut across socio-economic and environmental concerns, and my PhD research, which is investigating fences and socio-spatial impacts in Canadian mining communities, definitely answers to that. I’m also really passionate about community-based research. Working with communities to build mutually beneficial research projects excites me."

Photo: Lori Lee Pike

4/ Zhanae Sutherland, M.Env.Sc.

"I love environmental science because it’s so interdisciplinary. Anyone can be an environmental scientist. There are people from every background you can imagine – biology, chemistry, geology, engineering, even computer science. The thing that piqued my interest in this area was the 2004 Indian Ocean (Sumatra-Andaman) earthquake and the ensuing tsunami. I was eight years old and had never seen so much destruction. Nature is so powerful and unpredictable, and I was curious to know more about the mechanisms behind these natural processes."

Photo: Submitted

5/ Tiffany Small, M.Sc.(fisheries and tech.)

"Going through grade school, I had people tell me that I was never going to get a job in marine biology. However, because my passion began at a very young age and was supported by my parents and loved ones, I was able to carry that passion and manifest whatever I wanted. I think that the biggest thing that needs to change are society’s perceptions on what young girls should and shouldn’t do. Young girls need to have the ability to discover their passions without the judgment and pressure of gender-conforming roles. If girls want to play with rocks, and dinosaurs, and bugs – let them, in fact, encourage them! They are exploring the world around them and that is essentially what science is all about: discovery."

Photo: Submitted

6/ Stephanie Gallant, PhD

"I love chemistry in that it explains almost everything in the world around us. It can be seen as the central link between physics, biology and biochemistry. I love creating new materials and studying their properties, then finding creative ways to put them to use. I love the problem-solving, interesting results and collaborative nature of research. I would love to work more on creating new materials for devices, like the work I do now in developing environmental sensors, as they serve a helpful and practical purpose."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

7/ Rashmi Hazarika, M.Sc.Med.(CH)

"What I love most about my subject of study is that it focuses on the well-being of community as a whole and the exciting part is integration of environmental health with community health. How the environment plays a vital role in health of people and other living organisms. In the long run, I picture myself working towards conservation of the environment and to bring a positive change in health and well-being of people, especially the marginalized section of society."

Photo: Submitted

8/ Katherine Dibbon, BA/B.Sc.

"STEM is a groundbreaking initiative where we are learning the powerful impact women can have on the world of science. In science, the smallest discoveries can have the most extensive effects, just like in the breakthrough of gender equality. Something as simple as involving young women and girls in science will be huge to the STEM community – I know it. We are capable of achieving great things even in traditionally male-dominated fields. My message would be: “Put on your lab coat and goggles and take your seat at the lab bench, we have work to do!”

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

9/ Alyssa Comerford, B.Eng.

"I have always had an interest in science, but when I graduated high school, I wasn’t sure what field of science I was best suited for. I completed the medical sciences/respiratory therapy program at College of the North Atlantic right after high school, but after three years into the program, I knew that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to pursue a career that was challenging but also rewarding in the sense of helping people. Engineers have a huge impact on the world by improving the quality of life of people and the environment. Coming home at the end of each work day knowing you are making a difference is what I was striving for since I was a teenager."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

10/ Taylor Bartlett, B.Sc.

"I spent some time thinking I was not good enough or smart enough, now I am about to graduate, and I have applied for a health ethics master's program. Anything is possible, especially if you are genuinely passionate about it. There will always be amazing women in the STEM field to look up to for inspiration; we have the recent accomplishment of two women, Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, who have been awarded the Nobel Prize for their breakthrough CRISPR discoveries. We have a lot left to learn and explore with genetics, and doing it ethically and right is of utmost importance."

Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

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