500 Women Scientists Eugene Pod Coordinators Leslie Dietz, Theresa Cheng and I sat down with KMTR reporter Kelsey Christensen today to about 500 Women Scientists in Eugene, and the Science Salons we’ve been hosting monthly since March. You can find the video clip in the link below.
It’s been a really busy spring so far, so much so that I haven’t had much chance to write about it! Here is a brief overview of what I’ve been up to.
This past year has easily produced the largest number of research topics I have been working on concurrently. In addition to publishing a paper on the rumen in cattle last September, I have been working on a paper on the rumen of yearling rams which is currently in preparation and due to be submitted to a scientific journal for review soon. I still have several small projects in development from my post-doc in the Yeoman lab, as well as a number of grad-student-led papers that are still pending, and was invited to contribute to a scientific review which is also in preparation.
I’ve been working through the large dataset of soil samples from my post-doc in the Menalled lab. That large project has blossomed into four papers thus far, two of which I’m writing on the soil bacteria, and one of which I am co-authoring on the legacy effects of climate change. Those four are also due for submission to scientific journals for review soon. The Menalled lab just received a grant award from USDA AFRI NIFA, on which I am a (subaward) PI and to which I will be contributing soil bacterial community analysis.
The rumen and soil work over the past year has been entirely in my spare time, however, as my position in the Biology and the Built Environment Center has kept me delightful busy. I have been collaboratively processing a large and complex dataset on weatherization, home operation and lifestyle, indoor air quality, and microorganisms in dust, which I will be presenting at two (possibly three) conferences this summer. I have also been collaboratively writing grant proposals, and while those are still in development or pending review, they span everything from light, to chemistry, to plants and living machines, to hospitals, to social networks in buildings. I hope to further develop some of these collaborations with a short trip at the end of June to the University of Austin, Texas’ Test House.
In addition, I have been assisting in the planning, development, and launch of the University of Oregon’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment. The Institute will facilitate collaboration and information sharing between researchers and industry professionals, with the goal of researching, building, and promoting healthier built environments. The Institute just hosted its #BuildHealth2018 Consortium meeting in Portland, OR, at which I presented some of the results from that large weatherization study regarding indoor plants. The meeting was fantastic, and spurred in-depth discussion on problems facing industry professionals, innovative research goals, and a wealth of new possibilities.
In the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of my spare time helping to develop the Eugene Pod of 500 Women Scientists, an organization created to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, and to promote education and interactive between scientists and the general public. We have focused on hosting monthly Science Salon events, four to date, to do just that. I presented at the first one, and have helped organize and MC the others. The Eugene Pod’s activities were just featured on the central 500 WS page, as Pod of the Week, and you can also follow our updates and events on our Facebook page.
While it has been a struggle to maintain regular contributions, I still maintain Give Me the Short Version, along with a few intrepid contributors, which summarizes scientific articles for easier consumption. This spring, I spent several days judging STEM and robotics competitions for several local Eugene middle and high schools, which has been a lot of fun. The student projects are enthusiastic and creative, and I appreciate the chance to assist in these programs in some small way.
Today I'm judging a middle school #Robotics competition, for their #STEM research award. I'm so excited to see what these kids created! #sciencesaturday
I have continued to mentor UO students. The post-bac student from the BioBE lab that was learning bioinformatics with me, Mitch Rezzonico, was accepted to the University of Oregon’s Bioinformatics and Genomics Master’s Program! Mitch wrapped up his work this spring to prepare for the intensive program, and with his interest in health research, BioBE hopes to work with him again in the future. BioBE recently hired an undergraduate student for science communication, Mira Zimmerman. Mira has been making some upgrades to the BioBE and ESBL websites which will continue to be rolled out over the next few months. In addition, she will be helping me develop informative blog posts on the built environment, and helping to grow our information dissemination capabilities. Hiring a student as a science communicator was something I had been hoping to test out, and so far it’s been a smashing success.
My course proposal for “Introduction to Mammalian Microbiomes” was accepted by the University of Oregon Clark Honor’s College for the fall term!
In April, I gave a guest lecture to Mark Fretz’s Design the Unseen course at the University of Oregon, on the Indoor Microbiome. The class was populated by architecture students, who were learning about integrating health considerations into design strategies. As a final project, students design a brief field experiment or intervention strategy for a design assistance project with Portland firms. I assisted one group in designing a small experiment on natural daylighting in an office and the effect on E. coli growth on culture plates – more on those results soon!
Later that same day, I have a lecture at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, as part of their OMSI After Dark series which opens the museum after-hours to adults for hands-on activities and lectures. The lecture was on the gut microbiome, and I was able to present in the Planetarium!
500 Women Scientists Eugene is hosting another Science Salon at First National Taphouse; “Hot Mess: Biodiversity in the Sky Islands and following fire.”
Carolyna Piña Páez
Graduate Student at Oregon State University
Title: “Population structure of Rhizopogon in the Madrean Archipielago: The Sky Islands of Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico.”
Bio: Carolyna Piña Páez is a graduate student at Oregon State university. Her adventures in Mycology began in 2005 in the Sonoran Desert, working with gasteroid fungi. Since 2011, she’s been working with truffles and other ectomycorrhizal fungi associated with true fir, pine and oak in the central part of México. In 2013, she moved to Oregon and was amazed with the diversity that this place hosts.
Fire Management Officer, a.k.a. “Burn Boss”, Nature Conservancy, Oregon
Title: “Burning for Butterflies, Birds & Blooms”
Bio: Amanda started her career in fire management as a member of a 20-person contract crew in 1999. In 2001, after finishing her BA in Philosophy at the University of Oregon, she returned to fire management, working on hotshot crews, handcrews, and engines; as a fuels technician on the Deschutes National Forest; and assistant fire management officer in fuels management on the Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland. She studied Natural Resources at Oregon State University and completed a Masters in Natural Resources, Fire Ecology, and Management at the University of Idaho in 2012. She has since worked for the Prineville Bureau of Land Management as a natural resource specialist coordinating post-fire emergency stabilization and rehabilitation; as invasives program manager for the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests and Crooked River National Grassland; fire management officer for The Nature Conservancy in Oregon and Washington; and chair of the Oregon Prescribed Fire Council.
500 Women Scientists Eugene would like to thank the organizations that helped make this event possible. First and foremost, First National Taphouse in Eugene, who shared their wonderful space with us and where we will be putting on future Salons, and donated a keg to the event! We are also extremely grateful to several organizations which contributed raffle or trivia items for us to raise additional funds, including Leslie Dietz and the Eugene Science Center. Our beautiful logo was crafted by Cassie Cook, our amazing event posters were designed by Serena Lim. Fertilab generously lent us a sound system. And of course, we want to acknowledge the national leadership of 500 Women Scientists, who brought us together, gave us a voice, and who suggested these Science Salons as a way to help CienciaPR, a organization which similarly supports science education and infrastructure.
I’d also like to acknowledge the powerhouse team of women who came together to organize this event: Karen Yook, Leslie Dietz, Jessica Flannery, and our wonderful speakers; Carolyna Piña Páez and Amanda Stamper. 500 Women Scientists was formed in the spirit of cooperation and support, and this team truly took that to heart. I can’t wait to organize the next one with you ladies, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one…
500 Women Scientists Eugene would like to thank the organizations that helped make this event possible. First and foremost, First National Taphouse in Eugene, who shared their wonderful space with us and where we will be putting on future Salons, and donated a keg to the event! We are also extremely grateful to several organizations which contributed raffle items for us to raise additional funds, including Broadway Metro, Sizzle Pie, and the Eugene Science Center. Our beautiful logo was crafted by Cassie Cook, our amazing event posters were designed by Serena Lim, and photographer Danielle Cosme took some incredible event photos. Fertilab generously lent us a sound system, the Biology and the Built Environment Center donated the bacterial culture supplies, and both Theresa Cheng and Jessica Flannery provided materials and support for the interactive portion of the event. And of course, we want to acknowledge the national leadership of 500 Women Scientists, who brought us together, gave us a voice, and who suggested these Science Salons as a way to help CienciaPR, a organization which similarly supports science education and infrastructure.
I’d also like to acknowledge the powerhouse team of women who came together to organize this event, and who turned my silly event title into a reality: Karen Yook, Theresa Cheng, Leslie Dietz, and Hannah Tavalire. 500 Women Scientists was formed in the spirit of cooperation and support, and this team truly took that to heart. I can’t wait to organize the next one with you ladies, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one…
The 500 Women Scientists Eugene, Oregon Pod is inviting you to join our Science Salons for Puerto Rico Campaign. For the last year, our amazing women scientists have put their communication skills to use within our community. Now, we’re channeling that energy into a concerted campaign to raise money to support our amazing partners at CienciaPR as they work to transform science education in Puerto Rico and around the world.
Throughout history, salons have acted as gathering places for conversation “either to please or to educate” (Latin: aut delectare aut prodesse). From the salons of the Enlightenment to the 1940s salons of Gertrude Stein, women have played a central role in guiding and driving the discussion.
500 Women Scientists has borrowed from the spirit of the salon to bring discussions about science to the communities we serve. We invite you to listen to speakers sharing 10 to 20 minute talks about their work, geared toward a public audience, followed by ample time for questions and discussion. The purpose of the salon is two-fold, creating an opportunity for the community to learn about our membership’s amazing research while giving our members a platform to hone their public speaking skills. And by charging admission — through a donation — the Salon will raise money for CienciaPR to transform science education in Puerto Rico. Ciencia PR is a global community of scientists, students, educators and allies who believe that science can empower individuals with the knowledge, capacity, and agency to improve their lives and society.
As a women-led nonprofit, CienciaPR taps into its rich and diverse community to democratize science and transform science education and career training in Puerto Rico. We’ve partnered with CienciaPR because our missions to democratize science and foster agency among underrepresented communities are well-aligned. While CienciaPR focuses on Puerto Rico and its diaspora, their strategy can serve as a model to other communities that are underrepresented in or disengaged from science. We are thrilled to support their ongoing efforts and learn from their organization’s successes in building capacity and fostering community.
Immediately after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico, CienciaPR worked with the Department of Education to create disaster-related and project-based science lesson plans that could allow displaced students to continue learning. Early in 2018, CienciaPR will launch a pilot project to train educators to implement four science lessons in natural disaster and environment related topics: renewable energy, environmental sustainability, clean and potable water, and terrestrial ecosystems. Later in the year, they will bring together scientists and educators to co-create project-based science lessons that foster creativity, entrepreneurship, and critical thinking skills. These new lessons will serve as a platform for students to work together to address the challenges they see in their communities. This pilot project kicks off the implementation of CienciaPR’s new 10-year strategic plan of transforming science education in Puerto Rico, by engaging its community of scientists, educators, and students to bring discovery, experimentation, and problem-solving to the classroom in ways that are culturally and socially relevant to Puerto Rican children.
At a conference this summer, I attended a lunch discussion on gender equality in science, and diversity and equity in the workplace in general, hosted by the activist group; 500 Women Scientists. What was planned to be a small meeting of 20-30 women very quickly turned into a standing-room-only event as an unexpected number of women and allies arrived; a momentum which has been gathering since the inception of 500WS. Following the 2016 presidential election, four women decided it was time to act and founded the organization with the goal of getting 500 women in STEM to sign an open letter in support of science. As of writing this, more than 20,000 supporters from over 100 countries have joined the movement, which has sparked a number of actions.
Second, 500WS aims to create gender equality in STEM and the workplace in general, by promoting inclusion, by advocating for employee-friendly practices, and by reducing bias. These policies not only help women, for example; they help working parents of all genders through the implementation of policies like parental leave. One of the 500WS measures is providing an online resource for people to Request A Scientist, to promote the visibility of women in STEM and support their inclusion in news articles, on panels, as speakers, and in leadership positions. This visibility in the media reinforces the idea that women are actively working in STEM, are making important contributions to it, and can help dispel gender stereotypes and bias which lead to pay discrepancies and missed career opportunities. Along with similar resources like the Diverse Sources Database, 500WS seeks to reinforce the idea that scientists come in all sorts of formats.
Third, 500WS is an activist group. In addition to promoting the March for Science movement last year and this year, they regularly post actionable items for women in STEM and supporters on their Take Action Tuesday blog posts. Most recently, 500WS is also launching a Science Salon campaign to raise money for Puerto Rico, which has yet to recover from catastrophic hurricane damage due to insufficient US recovery funds and a lack of media attention.
I am thrilled to announce that I’m also joining the 500 Women Scientists Eugene Pod as a co-coordinator! The Eugene Pod leadership has been working hard to develop a Eugene Science Salon, and we hope to make it a reoccurring event which will promote local women in STEM, increase public engagement and education in STEM, and raise money for a variety of causes.
Connect with 500WS
You can find the Eugene Pod online on Facebook and Twitter and both women in STEM and supporters of any gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, age, career path, field, and preferred Oregon college sports’ mascot are welcome to join. If you are a woman (the inclusive definition of woman) in the Eugene area who would like to join the group and attend meetings to plan larger events, please join our Meetup group.