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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm Sciencing!

Math class is tough, whines the 1990s Teen Talk Barbie. Yes, for a lot of us (female and male) it sure can be BUT it's pretty damned fun once you get past the bullshit girls aren't good at math fear factor. Rilly!

How do I know about this math fun business? My eighth grade math teacher, Ms. Ober, showed me it could be interesting and I could do much better than my usual C. My tenth grade geometry instructor, Mr. Wood (??), revealed its sublime elegance. In my junior year of high school though, I had Mr. Zaffuta. He taught algebra and was painfully ill-suited to the task Dude could’ve made Star Wars boring. Why oh WHY do I have to sit through his sleep inducing monotoned delivery for something I’ll, (obvs to me at the time), never use again after semester’s end.

In college, my math professor father subbed one day when my Math 101 teach was out. I was kinda freaked out – geez, now I gotta actually pay attention! I didn’t have to put any effort into that at all – my father made the day’s topic absolutely fascinating. Wowzers – I totally got it! I wasn't excited to the point of changing my major BUT I now understood Daddy’s big math love.

And, by the by, throughout my years as pressroom production manager, I used algebraic equations every single day – multiple times an hour in fact. Turns out – I’m actually good at this number crap and, oh yeah, it's wicked cool fun too!

I wonder what I might’ve ended up doing/being had I combined math and art. Could I have been a precursor to Neri Oxman? Pretty to imagine.

Oxman leads the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab.
 Carpal Skin!
Designer and architect Neri Oxman is leading the search for ways in which digital fabrication technologies can interact with the biological world. Working at the intersection of computational design, additive manufacturing, materials engineering and synthetic biology, her lab is pioneering a new age of symbiosis between microorganisms, our bodies, our products and even our buildings. (source)
She designs some crazy, cool shit and it all does important stuff too. Functional art! Other awesome science babes:
Michelle Koppes
My research focuses on landscape response to climate change, over the long term and over the recent past. Some of my current research projects focus on quantifying glacier change in response to warming climate and warming oceans, the landscape response to changing glacier dynamics, and the effects of climate change on meltwater resources in BC, Patagonia, Antarctica, Greenland and the Himalayas.

“As a woman, I constantly need to prove I am not only scientifically capable, but hardy enough to thrive in the field, in the harsh environments of my research,” says Koppes. (source)
No doubt sister, no doubt.
Kristin Marhaver's a coral biologist based in Curaçao, Brazil.
She researches how corals reproduce and what their juveniles need in order to survive on today’s reefs — an urgent task as corals struggle against pollution, overfishing and a changing climate. (source)
Jedidah Isler is an astrophysicist studying supermassive, hyperactive black holes.
My first love was for the night sky. Love is complicated.
These objects (supermassive, hyperactive black holes) devour material at a rate upwards of a thousand times more than an average supermassive black hole. (source)
Baby tapir – how CUUUUUTE!
VERY Star Trek and so damn cool!

Patricia Medici is a conservation biologist.
Brazilian conservationist Patricia Medici has devoted her life to preserving the life and habitat of the South American lowland tapir, the largest terrestrial mammal of South America. Though not well known, tapirs are important to their ecosystems as an umbrella species: protecting tapirs also protects iconic species like peccaries, jaguars and pumas.
Wow, wow, wow – everything’s so cool and connected (yes, I know I sound like a wicked stoner here. Shut up and don't bogart that joint, man!)

Nina Tandon is a biomedical engineer. She's the CEO and co-founder of EpiBone, "the world's first company growing bones for skeletal reconstruction.
EpiBone is a revolutionary bone reconstruction company that allows patients to “grow their own bone.” EpiBone’s pioneering technology utilizes a scan of the patient’s bone defect and the patient’s own stem cells to construct and cultivate a defect-specific autologous-like bone graft. (source)
Whoa – that’s SO sci-fi awesome. Also too, grow your own bone...heh, heh, heh. Yes, OF COURSE, my mind went there!

Elizabeth Gould is a psych prof at Princeton.
As a child, Gould wanted to be an artist, but she found "a great deal of creativity in science." Her work has proved that the brain is not, as previously thought, full of a given number of cells that can never be replaced. Instead, throughout life, neurons sprout in the hippocampus, perhaps forging new memories, while others die from stress or wither from disuse. "Although I once was surprised to find that experience causes new neurons to grow, it makes perfect sense that the brain would evolve throughout life.”
Katrin Amunts is another brain babe.
The Human Brain Project is a decade-long initiative focused on a variety of different platforms related to human neuroscience, but at its core is BigBrain, the most detailed 3D atlas of the human brain ever created. BigBrain will allow researchers to better investigate telltale signs of neurological disease and the way drugs interact with diseased brains, paving the way for drastically improved diagnosis and treatment.
Katrin Amunts is the big brain at BigBrain, the director of the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the Jülich Research Center in Jülich, Germany.

Jennifer Doudna developed CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats)  
CRISPR is a tool that edits DNA. It can edit DNA like I'd edit a book!!!
It allows scientists to add or remove specific genomes in a way that’s never been possible. It is the most effective genomic tool ever invented -- and Jennifer Doudna invented it.
The ability to create primates with intentional mutations could provide powerful new ways to study complex and genetically baffling brain disorders. Doudna’s research is groundbreaking in its implications for curing disease. (source)
Given my own little neurological puzzle box – my Nf2 riddled head – the work done by these women interests me big time.

Cori Bargmann
Through her studies on roundworms, Cori Bargmann is uncovering how neurons and genes affect behavior. Because many of the gene mechanisms in roundworms mimic those of mammals, Bargmann is able to manipulate certain genes and observe how that affects changes in behavior.
Maybe she’ll discover why 45 behaves as he does.

Wanna read about more intensely cool, female scientists? Go here, here, here, here and here. Or, ya know, you can type contemporary female scientists into Google and dive down the rabbit hole of wonder.
She Blinded Me with Science – Thomas Dolby

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