Name: Irene Gabashvili
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Occupation: Founder of Aurametrix, Inc
As a child in the Kransnodar region of the Soviet Union, Irene Gabashvili read about female scientists like the pioneer of radiology, Marie Curie, and found herself inspired by the idea of not only breaking the glass ceiling, but inventing an entirely new method of helping patients within the field of medicine. She found herself always wondering about the origin of life, and she translated this relentless curiosity into her study of physics and biophysics at such illustrious institutions as Texas Health Center and the Department of Medicine at Stanford University.
Over time, Irene realized that there was a serious need for people to be able to alleviate symptoms for certain chronic ailments and conditions on their own. She believed that it was important to find a way for patients to apply analysis to their daily lives so they could live healthier, with more tools to monitor diet, activity and symptoms at their disposal. By uniting new technology with her understanding of science and medicine, Irene developed Aurametrix, a simple, straightforward tool that allows anyone to see how they can make tiny changes to alleviate some of their more negative symptoms, even if it’s just something straightforward, like avoiding that extra slice of fried eggplant or getting nine hours of sleep instead of seven.
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Name: Deborah Berebichez
Age: Early Thirties…
Location: New York City
“I would love to become a female role model for those girls who love science but somehow feel trapped, like they can’t achieve their dreams,” Dr. Debbie Berebichez says. “Much like “Bill Nye, the Science Guy,” I want to be “the Science Gal,” to inspire teenagers and adults to look at science with a fresh and fun new eye.”
Dr. Berebichez has become a prominent female voice in both physics and scientific leadership, even though she found little encouragement for her love of science and math from her family and peers while growing up in Mexico City. Although she would spend hours looking at the stars on the roof of her building, and she’d ardently read biographies about scientists, she didn’t have much external support when it came to her budding thirst for knowledge. She attributes this to a conservative community that strictly adhered to gender roles as they understood them, where girls were told they “shouldn’t pursue a career in science.” Although she dreamed of becoming an astronaut or a rocket mechanic, she instead focused on theater and writing, opting to treat her love of left-brain learning as a childhood phase. It was when she was a Philosophy major at Brandeis University that her scientific swooning reemerged, and today she is a professional physicist and risk analyst on Wall Street.
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Name: Joanne Manaster
Location: Champaign, IL
Occupation: University Biology Lecturer for students studying for their Masters of Science in Teaching Biology
As a shy, introverted child, Joanne Manaster wanted to become an astronomer and, later, a doctor, but before she was old enough to drive she was working as a model. “I think it would have taken me longer to overcome my shyness if I weren’t discovered for modeling when I was fourteen,” she says. “And my sense of style was definitely lacking before that point, too!” Now she is one of the more prominent Internet personalities when it comes to science, with her own website, Joanne Loves Science, that’s home to book reviews, fun field tests, and something that’s been dubbed “Gummi Bear Science.”
“Basically, a college student once asked me if a Gummi Bear could be liquefied with ultrasonic sound waves. We gave it a try and it worked. Once I began making videos, I ran across the Gummi Bear in potassium chlorate video and decided to create one about sonication. Multiple ideas have emerged since then. I thought people might like to learn a little bit more about how scientists do various things in their lab and also that scientific properties explain everything around us. Gummi Bears are no different,” she explains. She’s currently working on another web video featuring the sweets, where she’s using Gummi Bears to investigate the density of objects.
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Name: Amy Freitag
Location: Beaufort, NC
Occupation: PhD student in marine science and conservation
Amy Freitag grew up the daughter of a nuclear physicist in Washington DC. Being around her scientist dad inspired her, and led her to have an adoration of science fairs. Throughout her childhood she changed her mind about her dream career often, but whether it was to be an endocrinologist or a restoration ecologist, it always stayed grounded in science.
Today Amy is a PhD student in marine science and conservation at Duke University. At this point in her career she considers marine biology a “midpoint stop.” She works at a marine lab and interacts with people who have riveting jobs that enlighten and motivate her. “I work with colleagues in environmental justice that have field sites in the coal towns of Appalachia, inner city Baltimore, and the strawberry fields of the San Joaquin Valley. I consider myself a political ecologist, which largely questions community access to – and power over – natural resources they depend on,” she says. “The frame of analysis is ubiquitous across cultures, ecosystems, and time. That’s what has really won my love.” She also finds the idea of incorporating academia into her future appealing, as she believes it can help her to simultaneously spread knowledge about the environment while helping communities to preserve their resources.
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Name: Catherine Qualtrough
Location: Charlotte, NC
Catherine Qualtrough remembers looking up at the Milky Way when she was a child walking to her grandparents’ house. The rural area where she grew up, near Hamilton, New Zealand, was untouched by light pollution at the time, so scoping a celestial view while on a stroll wasn’t an impossibility.
Catherine remembers the particular moment in her childhood where her love affair with astronomy and astrophysics began. There was a school project where she studied Halley’s Comet and its return to the skies. “I was so amazed that this giant glowing snowball was speeding through our solar system and had been for hundreds of years and that by merely looking up I could see this happening,” she recalls. For weeks she dragged her parents out of the house at 3AM to stare at the sky with binoculars. Her parents could tell that their daughter had found something she was passionate about, so they contacted a member of the local astronomical society. He invited ten-year-old Catherine to look through his homemade reflecting telescope. “Again, my parents were there shivering through the night while I stood on a box and got my first look at Saturn’s rings, Mars and Jupiter’s moons. I was sold. From then on I read Astronomy magazine every month and begged my parents incessantly for a telescope,” she says.
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