Dr. Gladys West, Who Helped Develop The GPS, Inducted Into Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame

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This “hidden figure” is finally getting her due praise.

A “hidden figure” in the development of GPS technology has officially been honored for her work.Mathematician Dr. Gladys West was recognized for doing the computing responsible for creating the Geographical Positioning System, more commonly referred to as the GPS.

On December 6, the 87-year-old woman was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame by the United States Air Force during a ceremony at the Pentagon.

The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority member, born in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, earned a full scholarship to Virginia State University after graduating high school at the top of her class. Gwen James, her sorority sister, told The Associated Press she discovered her longtime friend’s achievements when she was compiling a bio for senior members of the group.

“GPS has changed the lives of everyone forever,” James said. “There is not a segment of this global society — military, auto industry, cell phone industry, social media, parents, NASA, etc. — that does not utilize the Global Positioning System.”

Dr. West spent 42 years working on the naval base at Dahlgren, Virginia. During this time, she was one of the few women hired by the military to do advanced technological work. During the early 1960s, she was commissioned by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory to support research around Pluto’s motion. From the mid-1970s to the 1980s, her computing work on a geodetic Earth model led to what became the first GPS orbit.

“This involved planning and executing several highly complex computer algorithms which have to analyze an enormous amount of data,” Ralph Neiman, her supervisor who recommended her for commendation in 1979, said. “You have used your knowledge of computer applications to accomplish this in an efficient and timely manner.”

Continue onto Blavity to read the complete article.

Being Intentional: Convening in a World with Too Many Conferences

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By: Rochelle L. Williams, PhD, ARC Network Project Director, AWIS

The ARC Network, an initiative of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS), elevates thought leadership on the successes and challenges to realizing equity in STEM. Since 2009, AWIS has worked with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to convene ADVANCE institutions and NSF Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) program to discuss synthesizing quantitative and qualitative approaches affecting gender composition and representation in STEM education workplaces.

By combining AWIS’ convening power and the ARC Network’s mission to advance equity in STEM, we’ve sought to create community, not another conference that promises a magical solution to research problems.

The 2019 Equity in STEM Community Convening builds on the momentum of the NSF ADVANCE/GSE Workshops, while simultaneously curating an experience that embodies a culture of innovation and inclusion. Traditional meeting features (i.e., poster sessions, networking coffee breaks and interactive breakout sessions) are infused with components that amplify, revolutionize and cultivate a community of researchers and practitioners.

Amplify.

To increase the reach and visibility of proven strategies that promote equity in STEM, additional avenues for authentic storytelling have been incorporated into this year’s programming. To start, presenters will stretch themselves by submitting visual abstracts, visual summaries of their presentations instead of the traditional text-based abstract. Shifting to visual abstracts allows easy distribution of their work within the ARC Network and with external audiences using social media. In addition to having prominent keynote speakers and poster showcase, the Equity in STEM Community Convening will also feature Lightning Talks during the networking reception. The Lightning Talks will challenge presenters to outline the highlights of their work and explain its importance within five minutes.

Revolutionize.

The Equity in STEM Community Convening will highlight high-quality research and works-in-progress that have potential to advance and transform STEM workplaces. The Early-Stage Innovations sessions will support new researchers and practitioners looking to share the initial phase of their work or seeking feedback from the community. Experience Reports, sessions dedicated to those on the frontline of change, are designed for well-developed and/or later-stage initiatives or research.

We’ve also introduced a new priority area, ADVANCE to Market. Presentations will center on research, programs, and practices that discuss academic STEM entrepreneurship and commercialization, including social equity issues and taking diversity and inclusion research and resources to market.

Cultivate.

Advancing equity in STEM requires an intentional focus on creating authentic, sustainable and inclusive environments while simultaneously cultivating a community that collaborates, shares and implements promising practices and tools shown to affect change. Presenter-designed Symposia and Workshops are meant to give participants the time to reflect and create, both individually and with others. The informal setting of the Networking Breaks make way for relaxed exchanges that are crucial for the learning process.

In a world with too many conferences, too many broken promises and not enough time, you’ll leave the convening inspired to take your work to the next level and, more importantly, knowing there’s a community ready to support you in your efforts toward #EquityinSTEM.

Building and Gathering a Community

Join the ARC Network Community! This AWIS initiative connects scholars and practitioners committed to equity in STEM at no cost. In collaboration with Mendeley, the ARC Network hosts a dedicated online group for members to access and contribute to a rich library of curated resources – including reports, articles, datasets, toolkits, videos and more – that serve as an important part of systemic change efforts. As the go-to hub for community collaboration, the platform also offers members the opportunity to share events hosted by the community and their institutions as well as online learning opportunities, such as webinars and virtual workshops. There is no cost to register. AWIS Membership not required.

Equity in STEM “First Look.” Published on SSRN, this quarterly digest allows peers to share a wide range of STEM equity content and early stage research, empowering the community with early access to the tools and knowledge needed for change. The inaugural publication provides a historical perspective of the NSF ADVANCE program and outcomes of and lessons learned from past awardees.

Dr Rochelle L Williams standing outside with buildings in the backgroundRochelle L. Williams, PhD, is Project Director for the ADVANCE Resource Coordination (ARC) Network for AWIS. The ARC Network has a primary focus on organizational and institutional systemic change from both the research and practical perspectives. Before joining AWIS, Dr. Williams served as Research Scientist in the Office for Academic Affairs at Prairie View A&M University. Since 2012, Dr. Williams has worked as a subject-matter expert for the National Science Foundation on issues about cultures of inclusion, broadening participation, and university education programs. Dr. Williams received a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Spelman College and both a Master of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Science and Mathematics Education from Southern University and A&M College.

AWIS is a global network with 80 grassroots chapters and affiliates connecting more than 100,000 professionals in STEM with members, allies and supporters worldwide. Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors.

Funded by the National Science Foundation ADVANCE Program, Award HRD-1740860, the ADVANCE Resource and Coordination (ARC) Network seeks to achieve gender equity for faculty in higher education science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. As the STEM equity brain trust, the ARC Network recognizes the achievements made so far while producing new perspectives, methods and interventions with an intersectional, intentional and inclusive lens. AWIS serves as the backbone organization of the ARC Network.

10 Reasons to Work for the Federal Government

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Are you thinking of working for the federal government? If so, opportunities and benefits lie ahead. Check out these ten reasons to pursue a career in the field.

  1. Make a difference
    The work of government employees impacts the lives of every American and the lives of people around the world. Federal employees can play a vital role in addressing pressing issues, from homelessness to homeland security. Students interested in working in government can engage in high-impact work, such as helping disrupt the laundering of billions of dollars derived from illicit U.S. drug deals.
  2. Great benefits/competitive pay
    Average government salaries are competitive with the private and nonprofit sectors. Recent graduates can expect a starting salary from $32,415 to $42,631 a year. Pay can also increase fairly quickly for top candidates with experience and a strong education. Federal benefits, including health insurance, retirement and vacation, are extremely competitive with, if not superior to, other sectors.
  3. The government is hiring
    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected an employment increase of ten percent through 2018 in federal employment.
  4. Location, location, location
    Federal opportunities are not only found in the D.C area. Eighty-four percent of federal government jobs are outside of Washington, D.C. If students are interested in international job opportunities, more than 50,000 federal employees work abroad.
  5. Jobs for every major
    Working in the federal government is not just for political science majors. In fact, 28.4 percent of federal employees work in STEM fields. There are federal jobs for every interest and skill, from art history to zoology.
  6. Opportunities for advancement and professional development
    Federal employees have many opportunities for career advancement in government. An internal Merit Promotion Program helps ensure that new employees succeeding in their job have easy access to information about job openings within government. The government also offers excellent training and development opportunities and has human resources personnel to help connect current employees with these opportunities.
  7. Interesting and challenging work
    Today’s government workers are leading and innovating on issues, such as developing vaccines for deadly diseases, fighting sexual and racial discrimination, and keeping our massive systems of transportation safe.
  8. Work-life balance
    Flexible work schedules, including telework, are a major plus for those with busy schedules or long commute. Competitive benefits also include generous vacation time combined with federal holidays and sick leave. All of these packaged together make government an attractive employer for students looking to successfully balance their work and personal lives.
  9. Job security
    Government work is steady and secure, an attractive selling point, especially during difficult economic times.
  10. The federal government can help pay for school loans
    Some federal agencies can help pay back up to $10,000 per year in student loans, up to a total of $60,000.

Source: ourpublicservice.org

The Top 25 Highest Paid Federal Jobs

Did you know that the 25 highest paying government jobs all pay over $50,000 per year?

Below is a list of 25 of the most sought after federal jobs, ranked by the Office of Personnel Management as the highest paid jobs currently offered by the U.S. Government.

1) Astronomer – $116,072

2) Attorney – $114,240

3) Financial Manager – $101,022

4) General Engineer – $100,051

5) Economist – $94,098

6) Computer Scientist – $90,929

7) Chemist – $89,954

8) Criminal Investigator – $88,174

9) Microbiologist – $87,206

10) Architect – $85,690

11) Statistician – $81,524

12) Librarian – $78,665

13) Accountant – $78,030

14) Chaplain – $76,511

15) Ecologist – $76,511

16) Human Resources Manager – $76,503

17) Health and Safety Specialist – $73,003

18) Air Traffic Controller – $72,049

19) Budget Analyst – $71,267

20) Correctional Officer – $67,140

21) Nurse – $65,345

22) Technical Engineer – $63,951

23) Border Patrol Agent – $63,550

24) Medical Technician- $59,840

25) Customs Inspector – $59,248

Source: Office of Personnel Management

Charu Sharma: The Future of Women in Technology

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Charu Sharma poss for camera with a smile

By Jaeson “Doc” Parsons

Charu Sharma is the founder and CEO of NextPlay.ai, a company focused on intelligently pairing employees with mentorship and cross-functional relationships. Companies, such as Square, Netflix and Asurion, use NextPlay’s mobile app to build mentorship programs to better equip their employees to build critical leadership and coaching skills.

Diversity in STEAM Magazine spoke with Charu about her background, her insight into women in tech, and the future of Artificial Intelligence.

Growing up in India, she describes her early life as a bubble where women were raised to be stay-at-home moms.

“I was on track to go study at the premier engineering institute in India,” she said, “but I was very attracted to the liberal arts education in the U.S. where I could study a range of disciplines from world politics to physics to film studies and develop my critical thinking skills.”

Her family was unable to provide for an American education, but she was able to gain a scholarship to study in the United States. Charu decided on Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, which was the first institution in the United States where women could earn degrees.

“The values and culture at my college also hugely shaped how I looked at the world and the contribution I wanted to make in society,” she said.

While at Holyoke, Charu began as an intern at a startup called SumZero, which was funded by the Winklevoss twins of Facebook fame.

“I did meaningful business-critical work. And my mentor, the CEO of the company, was a young brown man. I identified with him. The next time I saw a problem, I built a solution for it. The power of role models is huge.”

For that reason, she started GoAgainsttheFlow.com, which through storytelling educated one million women around the world on starting their own businesses.

“I was lucky to have role models, and I wanted them to see someone like them in those shoes. In Go Against the Flow, I told stories of successful women entrepreneurs ranging from an 18-year-old college dropout to a woman in her 50s—they all went against the flow and wrote their destiny. Self-doubt holds us back more than anything else. Which is why it’s so important to create mentoring opportunities for young women so that they know their options and have someone cheering for them.”

Charu is working to effect change worldwide regarding the global opportunities for women. At her core she is driven by leveling the playing field to create real opportunities for women and minorities.

“I realize I’m part of a system and so I try to do three things. Do my part by mentoring women (and men) Creating systems at scale through my work at Nextplay for companies around the world. Partner with like-minded organizations and influencers to educate leaders around the world on creating equal access for their employees.”

Charu sees Nextplay as a conduit for providing equal access to advancement and growth for all employees.

“Nextplay is best in class in building such systems at scale, and I’d love to see us impact tens of thousands of organizations and billions of humans in a meaningful way.”

AI is an exciting new frontier and is being applied to everything from agriculture to health care. Her advice to new entrepreneurs is to fix the problem that they need to solve instead of focusing on becoming an AI company.

“Understand the path you want to follow. AI is becoming a massive field, and each stream requires different training and skills. So do informational interviews—and go find mentors!” she said.

Mentorship has taken center stage—and for good reason—as the experiences of Charu Sharma attest. Creating companies, which provide new avenues for individuals to pursue their dreams through entrepreneurship, will add more depth and opportunities for society as a whole. With the advances of AI and the leveling technology with these advancements, the inaccessible becomes accessible for groups once trapped by the barriers of an ethno- and gender-centric society. Through programs and companies like Charu’s the world becomes more accessible to the genius once hidden by ineffectual economic and social prejudices. The limits are bounded only by the imagination of the dreamers and their mentors.

After Careers With U.S. Armed Forces And Fema This Couple Opens Their Own Business

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McDuffie,Sharron, Rodney, Lee's Summit, MO

After Rodney and Sharron McDuffie retired from long and successful careers that included both the U.S. Armed Forces and the U.S. Government, the Raymore couple was looking for an attractive business opportunity to bolster their pension income.

So on April 15, Rodney, “61 years young,” and Sharron, “59 years younger,” as they note, officially opened for business as franchise owners with Floor Coverings International, whose representatives visit customers’ homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. Floor Coverings International Lee’s Summit serves customers throughout greater Kansas City.

Sharron retired after 30 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), where she was a Technological Hazards Specialist assigned to several nuclear power plants throughout Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. Rodney retired from the U.S. Navy with 25 years as a Yeoman Administrator before joining the Department of Immigration, where he spent more than a decade before retiring as an Immigration Supervisor this past February. “We had started talking about what we would be doing in life with retirement approaching and looking forward to living the lifestyle we were comfortable in after more than 30 years working for the government,” Sharron said. “And we were not sure that once we retired on a government pension, if it would be enough. We are still pretty young and in good health, so we started looking for a business we could purchase that also offered plenty of flexibility, such as being able to work from home when we wanted to.”

In Floor Coverings International, the McDuffies found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising. Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers’ expectations.

The McDuffies are also very excited about having the opportunity for their children to play a role in the business. Their oldest son, who just earned his master’s degree in Public Affairs, is “more excited than my husband and myself,” said Sharron, while their youngest son, who just graduated from high school, is looking forward to joining one of their flooring installation teams where he will gain the necessary experience to later become a Project Manager or Design Associate. A daughter, currently a middle school biology teacher, might join the business as an office manager or Design Associate while her husband is assisting with local marketing. “Since we have been up and running, the whole family is seeing what a great opportunity it is by joining or just participating in this family business,” Sharron said.

ABOUT FLOOR COVERINGS INTERNATIONAL

Floor Coverings International is the #1 Mobile Flooring Franchise in North America. Utilizing a unique in-home experience, the mobile showroom comes directly to the customer’s door with more than 3,000 flooring choices. Floor Coverings International has 150-plus locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with plenty of opportunity for continued expansion in 2019. For franchise information, please visit flooring-franchise.com and to find your closest location, floorcoveringsinternational.com.

What it Takes to be a Successful Woman in the Field of Architecture

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By Gretchen Callejas

Frank Lloyd Wright. I.M. Pei. Those are the familiar names of two of America’s best-known architects.

Wright’s distinct prairie-style homes dot the American landscape while Pei’s large but elegantly designed urban buildings and complexes are among the world’s most famous architectural works. Pei’s projects, among others, include the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the controversial glass pyramid in Paris’ Louvre Museum courtyard.

But have you heard of Julia Morgan, who designed California’s famous Hearst Castle?

Or trailblazers such as Marion Mahony Griffin, the first woman to be officially licensed as an architect, and Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize?

It isn’t surprising if you haven’t. According to a January 2019 article in ThoughtCo., which listed 20 famous female architects, the role that women have played in architecture and design often go under the radar.

While architecture has been a male-dominated field, that is not the case at Felder & Associates, where I have worked since its inception in 2012. We have four women and three men on staff. The forward-thinking leadership of the firm’s managing principal, Brian Felder, has played an extraordinary part in making our workplace a gender free oasis in an otherwise industry-wide testosterone-filled desert.

Why is architecture, like so many other professions, such a tough profession for women to crack?

According to a 2016 article in the Los Angeles Times, only 18 percent of licensed practitioners are women although they make up nearly half of U.S. architecture school graduates. This disparity sometimes is referred to as “the missing 32 percent.” Unfortunately, females leave the field in disturbingly high numbers after they’re confronted with lower salaries, given fewer career-building opportunities or find a lack of mentors, who champion for them.

Full-time female architects earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Plus, architecture’s history as a male-dominated profession has contributed to an all-consuming workplace culture that leaves little flexibility for women expected to balance work and family. According to the Times article, 75 percent of female survey respondents had experienced sexual discrimination on the job, and 83 percent believed having a child would hurt their careers.

My personal observations and experiences have confirmed some of these disparities, but I consider myself lucky.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to maintain a successful professional career while balancing family because I have a husband who shares responsibilities and encouragement. Without his support, it would be more challenging to continue with a professional career.

And while I have quite a few female friends who are architects, I have never worked for a woman nor had a strong female mentor. Contractors and clients often assume I need to ask my male boss for help in understanding construction, codes or a design issue. When I approach a problem with the same assertiveness as a male architect, I’m sometimes labeled with the “B”-word.

Since I was a kid, I dreamed of designing buildings before I knew what that encompassed. And now as an adult would I encourage young girls to enter architecture? Absolutely. I would tell young women (and men) entering the field that determination and passion go a long way. You will be successful if you work hard, tune out the negativity and chase your goals with perseverance. If you want to be an Architect, then go be one.

I finally believe that I am in a position to give them a hand. I’ve been around enough to help guide them and try to be the mentor I never had. I’m pleased we have two young women working with us at Felder & Associates. Alma Johnson and Cathryn Sinclair graduated with architectural degrees from the Savannah College of Art and Design last year and are interning with us as project associates.

Sinclair says she believes the playing field is more level than ever before but there is always room for improvement.

“I hope to continue to see the gap close,” she says.

For Johnson, success is based on how hard you work.

“Now, the gender gap does exist, but I think that the world is evolving on a more modern idea of a woman in the workplace. I don’t see gender. I see what skill sets I need to acquire to be as successful as the candidate next to me,” Johnson says.

I hope their perspectives will remain true and their positivity high after spending 15 years or so in the industry. I suspect they will reflect on their early days as a time when they had to deal with an old and outdated set of standards.

One thing I know for certain. They are in a wonderful setting to avoid bias and discrimination working at Felder & Associates. We are, thankfully, treated equally regardless of our gender, and we treat one another with mutual respect and understanding.

My hope for young women in architecture is that they will continue to mentor the next generations of women architects, have equal opportunities and respect. One day we will be as well-known as Frank Lloyd Wright and I.M. Pei.

Gretchen Callejas is a project architect at Felder & Associates, where she specializes in historic preservation, adaptive reuse, small scale commercial architecture and high-end residential design. She is also LEED-accredited from the U.S. Green Building Council. Callejas earned Bachelor of Architecture and Bachelor of Science in Environmental Design from Ball State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation from Savannah College of Art and Design.

Citations:

  1. Craven, Jackie (2019, January). 20 Famous Women Architects. ThoughtCo. Retrieved from: https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-female-architects-177890
  2. Stratigakos, Despina (2016, April). Why is the world of architecture so male-dominated? LA Times. Retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-stratigakos-missing-women-architects-20160421-story.html
  3. Newman, Caroline (2019, January). Three Generations Of Female Architects Seek To Bring More Women Into The Profession. UVA Today. Retrieved from: https://news.virginia.edu/content/3-generations-female-architects-seek-bring-more-women-profession

 

 

From Refugee Camp to Medical School

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By Samixchha Raut

Eight years ago, I lived in Goldhap, a refugee camp in Nepal, where more than 7,000 people reside in just over 1200 households, without running water or electricity. Today, I’m 22, a senior at Rochester Institute of Technology, majoring in Biomedical Science and on a path to achieve my dream of becoming a doctor. I am studying for the MCAT exam to apply for medical school. It has been a long journey for me and my family.

My dad, a native of Bhutan, fled the homeland with his family. He settled in Goldhap, where he did construction work in a surrounding town, and later started repairing bicycles. He met my mother; they married and had me, and my two younger brothers. But there was barely enough food to go around.

In 2010, my family was able to immigrate to the United States, where we settled in Raleigh, North Carolina. I studied hard and earned a full scholarship to Rochester Institute of Technology. In spring 2018, I participated in a study abroad program with the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). I spent six weeks in each of three locations – studying HIV/Aids Policy & Politics in Cape Town, Media, Gender & Identity in London, and Family and Child Development in Paris. The experience reinforced my commitment to be a doctor!

As a child, I was stricken with jaundice, and it wasn’t sure that I would survive. My parents worked extra hard and were finally able to purchase the medicine that made me better. Once I recuperated, I decided I wanted to be a doctor to help others.

While studying in South Africa, my class visited a township village, Zwelethemba. I felt like I was back in the refugee camp. The people were living in severe poverty. But you could see and feel the camaraderie and love among the villagers. Every child was being raised by the entire village. I pictured myself in them.

It took me back to our camp and to our struggles. I spent 13 years of my life in a refugee camp, living just like these people, and then suddenly, there was I among them as a scholar. It reaffirmed that I am on the right path. It’s important for me to become a doctor and pursue my passion of helping underserved people by providing them with adequate health care.

The study abroad experience was so valuable because I know if I’m to become a doctor and work with a diverse population of people, then I need to experience diversity. This exposure has boosted my motivation to work hard and give back to the community.

Continue on to Hudson Valley Press to read the complete article.

Get to Know the Scientist of the Year: Dr. Clarise R. Starr

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Dr. Clarise Starr poses at work smiling waering a bright red sweater

Dr. Clarise R. Starr—2018 HENAAC award winner for scientist of the year—is a supervisory biological scientist in the Aeromedical Research Department of the Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

As the Deputy Division Chief, she is responsible for the research portfolios for the division. She leads and performs research in biological surveillance, human performance optimization, and force health protection against biological threats. Dr. Starr also serves as the laboratory director for the biological select agent and toxin research mission.

Dr. Starr discusses her career and offers her words of wisdom with Professional WOMAN’s Magazine’s sister publication, HISPANIC Network Magazine.

HISPANIC Network Magazine (HNM): What motivated you to become a microbiologist?

Dr. Clarise Starr (CS): I was always fascinated by the way a virus could mutate and the potential impact of outbreaks on mankind. I read the Hot Zone by Richard Preston and the Coming Plague by Laurie Garrett when I was in college, and I was determined to play some kind of role in preventing the end of the world by these pathogens.

HNM: What advice would you give other women interested in pursuing a career in STEM?

CS: Find good mentors and a good tribe to encourage you, especially when you are frustrated, because the path to a STEM career is not always easy, but it is very well worth it. I have been fortunate to have good mentors from grade school all the way to present day that I can bounce ideas and thoughts off of, and I think that has been part of my success. If you are interested in science, tell your teachers, your Girl Scout leaders, your family, anyone, and ask if they know any scientists whom you can talk to. Talk to as many as you can and then find opportunities to participate in science when you’re in high school, either through science fairs, internships or summer programs if they are available. Science fairs sometimes are judged by people in the community who have a science background, so those are easy networking opportunities. The more people you can talk to about what your interests are, the more insight you can get about types of schooling you need and jobs that are out there that you may never thought required your interests or skill sets.

Explosive: Former Theater Major, Now Navy Bomb Squad Leader, is Real-Life Action Hero

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When Hollywood makes movies featuring female soldiers and sailors, those characters typically have some improbable combination of strength, intelligence, grace and courage. Throw in a quirky backstory – She studied theatre! She plays clarinet! – and you have the makings of a perfect, albeit unrealistic, female military action hero.

But these women do exist. America’s Navy is filled with them, and few have a more interesting story than Ensign Brianne “Brie” Coger, a 10-year Navy veteran who was one of just 12 female enlisted Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) technicians in the entire fleet before earning her commission in 2018.

EODs are part of the Navy’s elite Special Warfare community. This is the territory of Navy SEALs – exceptional men and women who have the intelligence, physical fitness, and drive to rise to the top. It’s work that demands a state of mind marked by extreme courage and capability under fire.

Quirky background

Coger grew up in Staten Island, New York. She excelled in sports, particularly swimming, and still holds some swimming records at her high school. A talented musician, she also played clarinet with the school orchestra and marching band. Later, at the University of Miami (Fla.), she studied theater and dreamed of becoming a Hollywood stunt woman.

Coger competes in the 2013 CrossFit Euro Regionals in Copenhagen. Coger is a dedicated CrossFit competitor and has competed in individual and team CrossFit events at home and abroad.

Coger spent two challenging years after college working odd jobs back home in New York, trying to pursue an acting career. When the opportunities fizzled, Coger looked for a different kind of challenge and found it in the Navy.

Nothing typical

“What I love about EOD is that there is no typical day,” she said. “Whether we’re going out to do some diving and an underwater detonation, or we have to go to a remote location in the mountains to do some IED training, or just working a chemical or biological problem in a laboratory situation – there’s nothing typical about any of that, and that’s exactly what I needed in my life.”

EODs are the world’s ultimate bomb squad, trained to disarm conventional bombs, mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and chemical – even nuclear – weapons. They perform some of the most harrowing, dangerous work on earth to keep others from harm’s way — but that was precisely what appealed to Coger.

“I was really drawn to EOD because I wanted to be part of a protective force,” she said. “You still get to do all the cool stuff, but an EOD doesn’t go out and cause trouble; they’re there to make the situation better. That really spoke to me.”

Another competition, this time from the Epic Series in 2014. “Epic is like a like a strongman competition with multiple stations doing things like assault bikes, telephone pole tosses, sledgehammer smashing – stuff like that,” Coger says. “That was a keg race.”

Forging ahead

Coger says she’s never felt that her gender was an issue in her Navy career. In fact, she has enjoyed tremendous success in a relatively short time, rising to chief petty officer – a senior enlisted rate – in just eight years before being selected for officer training in 2017. After more than a decade as an enlisted Sailor, Coger earned her commission in 2018 after completing Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. Coger has since graduated from the exclusive Navy Dive School in Florida and is now in San Diego getting ready to deploy. Her first assignment as a new officer? Leading a platoon of EOD Techs – the same people she worked with as an enlisted sailor.

“People think that joining the military means giving up things, but I’ve never seen it like that,” she said. “You aren’t losing something; you are gaining opportunities. The biggest thing that has helped me in my career is saying yes; embracing whatever’s out there and keeping my eyes and ears open to what’s possible.”

Forge your own path. Go to Navy.com

What You Need to Know About WBENC Certification

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Not only is the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States, but it is also one of four organizations approved by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification, as part of the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program.

Each year, the federal government sets a goal to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to certified Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs), particularly in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Becoming a certified WOSB and joining the SBA’s contracting program ensures your business is eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for this program.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for WOSB certification, your company must:

  • Be at least 51 percent, unconditionally and directly, owned and controlled by one or more women, who are U.S. citizens.
  • Be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the SBA’s size standards for that industry. Use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to check your industry.
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions.

What Are the Benefits?

Becoming a certified WOSB and participating in the SBA’s WOSB contracting program allows your business to compete for federal contracts within a more limited pool of other qualified WOSBs, thereby increasing your chances of winning business.

These contracts are for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Check out the SBA’s list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are already a WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), you can easily apply for WOSB certification as part of your recertification process at no additional charge.

Before starting the application process, please review the criteria for certification and ensure you meet the SBA’s size standards for your industry. When you are applying for recertification, select “Yes” to the WOSB certification question and upload the documents labeled “WOSB Applicants.”

If you are a women-owned business and not yet certified by WBENC, take a moment to read about the benefits of WBENC Certification to see if it is a fit for your business. WBENC is the nation’s largest certifier of women-owned businesses and our world-class certification standard is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands. If you choose to apply for WBENC certification, you can apply for WOSB certification at the same time.

It’s important to note that once you receive your WOSB certification, you still must complete additional steps to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting program, including providing proof of certification information through certify.SBA.gov, and updating your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. Check out SBA.gov for details.

Where Can I Learn More?

  • Visit wbenc.org/government for details on the WOSB certification process, documentation required, and frequently asked questions.
  • For more information about the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting program, visit SBA.gov.

Mathematics’ Highest Prize Awarded to UT Austin’s Karen Uhlenbeck

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Karen Uhlenbeck stands in front of chalkboard filled with mathe equatons with her arms folded wearing a green sweater

Austin, TX–A professor emerita of mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin has received mathematics’ top international award for the year. The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has named Karen Uhlenbeck its 2019 Abel Prize award winner.

The prestigious international award, modeled after the Nobel Prize, comes with a monetary award of 6 million Norwegian kroner, approximately $700,000.

“For more than three decades at The University of Texas, Karen Uhlenbeck conducted research that revolutionized geometric analysis and mathematics as a whole” said President Gregory L. Fenves. “She was an inspiring teacher and dedicated mentor to thousands of UT students, motivating them to reach great heights in their academic and professional lives. The Abel Prize is the highest honor in mathematics, and it is one that Professor Uhlenbeck richly deserves.”

Uhlenbeck was cited “for her pioneering achievements in geometric partial differential equations, gauge theory and integrable systems, and for the fundamental impact of her work on analysis, geometry and mathematical physics.” Her work has been described as some of the most important in 20th century mathematics, constituting revolutionary advances in geometry.

The President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Hans Petter Graver, announced the winner of the Abel Prize at the academy in Oslo today. Norway’s King Harald V will present the Abel Prize to Uhlenbeck at an award ceremony in Oslo on May 21.

Some of her most noted work focused on gauge theories, providing an analytical foundation for a number of concepts explored in modern physics.

“Uhlenbeck’s research has led to revolutionary advances at the intersection of mathematics and physics,” said Paul Goldbart, dean of the College of Natural Sciences and a professor of physics. “Her pioneering insights have applications across a range of fascinating subjects, from string theory, which may help explain the nature of reality, to the geometry of space-time.”

Continue on to the University of Texas at Austin to read the complete article.