WiSE Fun with DNA Summer Camp
August 28 - September 1, 2017
This past summer, WiSE partnered with the Dolan DNA Learning Center to host a WiSE Fun with DNA summer camp. Created by WiSE Vice President Alexandra Ambrico, the program offered an chance for girls to learn about science from female scientists. After a day of the DNALC’s traditional activities, the girls spent the afternoon being taught by female scientists from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Each scientist chose a topic related to the camp program and found new and exciting ways to supplement what the girls had learned earlier in the day. This not only created a fantastic environment for education, but also provided them with female mentors who they were able to talk to and ask questions. Through fun activities such as a DNA replication Bollywood dance and an acid-base "vaccination game," the girls learned about topics ranging from CRISPR to NASA. The camp was a great success and we hope to make it a yearly event. You can read more about this inaugural session in a blog piece by Alexandra: https://www.sa-sha.org/science/2017/9/5/wise-fun-with-dna.
Speaker's List Update
September 21, 2017
“Representation Matters” – this message was the driving force behind CSHL’s Women in Biology Speakers’ List, an updated beta version of which was unveiled at a presentation Thursday September 21. A collaboration between CSHL WiSE (Women in Science and Engineering) and Meetings and Courses, the Speakers’ List will be a freely accessible and easily searchable list of female biologists who are available to give talks and serve on panels.
Although women have been making great strides in many areas of science, especially at the level of PhD and post-doctoral students, they remain grossly underrepresented in positions of influence, including at scientific conferences, where male speakers tend to dominate – a problem so prevalent it has its own hashtag, #YAMMM (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting), thanks to Dr. Jonathon Eisen at UC Davis. Lack of female representation often arises because conference organizers tend to be men who tend to invite other men (often peers they’ve known for years) to speak. Interestingly, studies have found that women are also more likely to invite other men to speak. End result: a self-perpetuating cycle of a narrow group of mostly men being asked to give talks at conferences around the world.
It is vital to the future of science to hear fresh voices and ideas from scientists of all genders and with diverse backgrounds. Therefore, on the inspiration of WiSE President Emeritus Jackie Giovanello, WiSE teamed up with Dr. Charla Lambert, Manager of Outreach, Training & Evaluation for Meetings and Courses, to integrate data on CSHL’s past speakers (many of whom are students and early career scientists) into a searchable interface.
There are currently a number of speakers’ lists available, helping combat the YAMMM problem, but they tend to be discipline specific; these include Anne’s List, a list of female neuroscientists hosted by CSHL’s Dr. Anne Churchland and a list of Women in Cell Biology (WICB) compiled by the ASCB (Association for Cell Biology). We aim to integrate data on women speakers from lists such as these into an easily searchable database that covers a broad spectrum of biological disciplines.
Last summer, WiSE intern and Stony Brook University (SBU) undergrad Victoria Liu helped get the project off the ground, constructing the framework for the database and collecting and formatting information on the women who have spoken at CSHL. This summer, our second intern, SBU Master’s student Fahimeh Mirhaj built a pipeline to integrate this database with speakers’ lists from other organizations; the current database includes over 2,000 speakers from CSHL and the ASCB, with plans for soon integrating speaker data from EMBO (European Molecular Biology Organization) and EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory)
Dr. Lambert will unveil the joint CSHL/ASCB Speaker’s List at this year’s joint ACSB/EMBO meeting. Beta testing will continue through early next year, with hopes of taking the site live by the end of 2018. Once the site is open to the public, Lambert plans to take it “on the road,” helping to integrate the Speakers’ List and other diversity measures into standard conference planning practice. We hope that this list will help put an end to the “We didn’t know any women to invite” excuse and help conference planners reach beyond their sphere of close colleagues to increase the diversity of speakers.
2nd Annual Greater NYC WiSE Summer Beach Party
Saturday August 12
Above: a few of the hundreds of amazing photos taken by Constance Brukin. You can see them all here: http://constancebrukin.com/portfolio/viewer1.php?directory=wise_2017&page=1
Women have made significant gains in representation in science at the graduate and postdoctoral levels, but there are still many more men than women at the highest positions of academia and industry. The underrepresentation of minority women is even more dire. CSHL Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) is working to address the many factors, such as access to networking opportunities, that contribute to this “leaky pipeline” to higher positions.
On Saturday August 12, CSHL Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) and the Postdoctoral Liaison Committee (PDLC) co-hosted the 2nd annual Greater NYC WiSE Summer Beach Party. Over 75 scientists and their family members from the tristate area attended for an afternoon of networking, barbecue, and lawn games.
Networking is very important for the career development of scientists, but women often miss out on networking opportunities for reasons such as childcare duties and concerns about personal safety. For these reasons, WiSE and the PDLC organized Saturday’s event as a family-friendly opportunity for women and men from around the tristate area to meet one another, share contact information, discuss science, and just have fun!
In a keynote speech on “Embracing Your Power,” Ivy Algazy, founder of the women’s empowerment organization The Ivy Foundation, stressed the importance of women advocating for themselves and for each other. In our society, she says, girls are socialized to be submissive and assertive women are often negatively stereotyped. This can be a key factor holding women back from reaching their potential. If we want women to achieve equality, Ivy says, women need to stop apologizing and start being assertive without facing backlash. It can be especially risky for minority women to be assertive, making it even more important for networks of women to advocate for the advancement of all.
We are grateful to the PDLC for co-hosting this year’s event as part of their mission to engage and connect postdoctoral fellows of all backgrounds with the Lab leadership, external professional networks, and one another. The event was a great success and we are already looking forward to next year’s party!
Diversity in STEM - Special Seminar and Panel Discussion
Thursday, June 22, 2017
Underrepresented minorities face unique challenges and often have difficultly having their voice heard. As part of our efforts to bring attention to issues of diversity in science and initiate discussions of how CSHL can best support diversity, WiSE partnered with Meetings & Courses, and the PDLC to host a Special Lecture by Lydia Villa-Komaroff followed by an In-House Panel discussion about diversity in STEM.
Lydia Villa-Komaroff received a PhD in molecular biology from MIT in 1975, making her the third Mexican American woman to receive a scientific PhD in the US. She has dedicated much of her life to making sure that she is far from the last, co-founding The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), which helps increase the representation of minorities in science. In her words, “Science, and our society, are stronger when the people doing science reflect our society as a whole.” Villa-Komaroff has had a very successful, and diverse career, researching growth factors and development, teaching at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) and Harvard, directing research for multiple research institutions and serving on the board of biotechnology companies.
Lydia spoke about the importance of recognizing the existence of implicit biases and the importance of explicitly acknowledging them. Following her lecture we had a panel discussion where CSHL scientists who identify as underrepresented minorities in science discussed their personal experiences and opinions on the topic and answered questions from the audience. We all benefit from diversity and we are hopeful that, if we all work hard, the future of STEM will reflect this diversity that makes us strong.
Photo credit: Jue Xiang
Get WiSE about Neuroscience & Cancer
May 13, 2017
On May 13, WiSE hosted local parents and students for a two-part event called "Get WiSE about Neuroscience & Cancer" at the Dolan DNA Learning Center (DNALC) in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. This was the first event of it's kind at the DNALC. The students performed experiments using Backyard Brains equipment, similar to the experiments done at "Brain Day," and learned how to be neuroscientists for the day. They worked with one another, as well as, cockroaches to understand how neurons work.
Simultaneously, parents were invited to a lecture from Dr. Camila Dos Santos and a panel discussion. Dr. Camila Dos Santos is a cancer researcher and was invited to present her work and inform the public of the research she is working on. Her lab focuses on the epigenetic regulation of normal and malignant mammary gland development, especially the alterations brought by pregnancy. Camila’s team works to improve the "notion of the mammary epigenome during normal development and use this information to gain insight into new preventive and curative strategies to target breast cancer." Dr. Camila dos Santos also attended the panel discussion alongside post-docs, students, and research technicians. During the panel, parents were able to ask questions, such as about how research gets funded and about future opportunities for their children to be involved in science. We hope to plan more events like this in the future to include parents and give them more insight on research and science.
You can read more about the event here: https://www.sa-sha.org/advocacy/2017/5/15/get-wise-about-neuroscience-cancer
And you can learn more about Dr. Dos Santos' work here: http://dossantoslab.labsites.cshl.edu/people/
Brain Day with Girl Scouts
April 29, 2017
On Saturday April 29, WiSE hosted a Brain Day event for Girl Scouts, an opportunity to spend a morning learning about neuroscience through interactive experiments led by CSHL faculty members Steve Shea and Jessica Tollkhun. The 24 girls who attended, ranging in age from 11 to 14, had diverse reasons for coming; while some already expressed a strong interest in science (one told us she wants to be a neuroscientist or an engineer), others were motivated by a love of making things (including messes). Many of the girls were currently taking Earth Science in school, so Brain Day was an exciting way to fit a biology lesson into their studies.
After an introductory neuroscience lesson in which Steve Shea explained how neurons communicate, the girls split into groups to see this signaling in action using Backyards Brains kits (affordable, Arduino-controlled electrophysiology kits). At one of the stations, after a brief primer on cockroach leg anatomy, the girls measured changes in the frequency of neuronal spikes in cockroach legs in response to various stimuli – this taught them about how neurons use rate coding to transmit information. At another station, they used electric signals from music to cause cockroach legs to dance.
While the girls definitely enjoyed the insect lab, the human experiments were the highlights of the day for many. At one station, the girls converted electromyography (EMG) signals coming from their own muscles into sound and lights. They then used EMG signals to control a robotic claw and Jessica Tollkhun explained how similar technology is being used to allow amputees and people with paralysis to control prosthetic limbs. At another station, they transmitted electrical information from the muscles of one girl to the nerve of another, allowing them to control that girl’s finger movements.
In between experiments, the girls got the chance to talk with and ask questions of WiSE group. Conversations overheard included research technician Alex Ambrico discussing career pathways with Katrina, who’s interested in becoming a nurse, and Steve Shea discussing neuroanatomy with Bronwen, whose experiences with friends battling brain cancer have motivated her to become a neurologist.
With twelve troops from Nassau County and one from Queens represented, the event was not only an opportunity to learn, but also a chance to make new friends. And smiles could be found all around – especially at the station where girls were using their facial movements to control machines!
Breakfast with Dr. Joanna Wysocka
March 30, 2017
We're so grateful to have had the privilege of a visit from Stanford's Dr. Joanna Wysocka. Our always great WiSE breakfasts were made extra special with special guests assistant professor Jessica Tollkuhn and Mila Pollock Executive Director of CSHL's Library & Archive. After breakfast, Joanna gave a fascinating talk on "Gene regulatory mechanisms in human development and evolution." You can learn more about her work here: http://stemcellphd.stanford.edu/faculty/joanna-wysocka.html
Breakfast with Dr. Eva Nogales
March 23, 2017
We had a great breakfast and inspiring conversation with UC Berkeley biophysicist and HHMI investigator Dr. Eva Nogales this morning! Her advice: stand up for yourself and speak up if things don't seem equitable. Later in the day, Dr. Nogales gave a seminar about her work using cryo-EM to visualize the machinery of DNA transcription. You can learn more about her work here: http://cryoem.berkeley.edu/research.html
McClintock Lecture from Dr. Carol Greider
March 15-16, 2017
We were thrilled to have Dr. Carol Greider visit us 3/16 as our third McClintock Lecturer! Each year, WiSE hosts 2 prominent women scientists who have contributed significantly to their field, as well as to the advancement of women in science. During her visit, the lecturer has breakfast with WiSE members, gives a scientific seminar to the CSHL community, and meets with students, post-docs and faculty. Dr. Greider's lab is focused on understanding telomerase and cellular and organismal consequences of telomere dysfunction. To examine telomere function, her lab uses biochemistry assays, yeast, and mice. She is most famous for her discovery of the enzyme telomerase in 1984, which she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine for, along with Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack W. Szostak. To learn more about her research:
Breakfast with Dr. Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz
February 27, 2017
Thank you Dr. Jennifer Lippincott-Schwartz for coming to visit us! After a breakfast with WiSE members, Jennifer gave a fascinating seminar about her work as an HHMI investigator at the Janelia Research Campus using novel fluorescent imaging techniques to visualize cellular organelles. https://www.janelia.org/people/jennifer-lippincott-schwartz
Photo credit: Jue Xiang
2nd McClintock Lecture - Dr. Lesslie B. Vosshall
January 26, 2017
We were honored to host Dr. Leslie Vosshall, Professor and HHMI investigator from Rockefeller University. Dr. Vosshall's schedule was busy during her visit at CSHL. During Breakfast and dinner, WiSE members had the opportunity to have an informal discussion with Leslie and get her advice on how to increase diversity in science. At noon, the whole scientific community attended the McClintock seminar, where we learned about the latest research done in her lab about mating preferences in mosquitoes. For lunch she met with with students and postdocs to discuss even more science. Last but not least, she gave a workshop on how to prepare for, and deliver, an effective chalk talk during the academic interview process. Dr. Vosshall is a brilliant and inspiring scientist - in both her scientific work and her commitment to leveling the playing field for women scientists. We couldn't be happier to have hosted her.
August 19, 2016
Thanks to everyone who came out for our CSHL/NYC/LI Meet & Greet BBQ. It was such a blast hanging out with other rad who share our passion for empowering women scientists and hearing about the powerful change you're making at other institutions.
Inaugural McClintock Lecture
Friday, February 2, 2016 • 12:00 PM
Dr. Ann Graybiel
Institute Professor at the McGovern Institute of Brain Research at MIT
Special workshop by executive coach Liz Bentley
Friday, January 15, 2016 • 9:00 AM
Liz Bentley, Executive Coach
“Issues women face in the workplace and strategies to navigate them”
WiSE brunch at Maria and Charles Ryan’s house
CSHL female scientists brunch at Maria and Charles Ryan’s house
December 19th, 2015
Women In Science Q & A: Leemor Joshua-Tor
Friday, November 20, 2015 • 3:30 PM
Leemor Joshua-Tor, PhD, Professor & HHMI Investigator
WiSE's First Event
Women in Science In-House Seminar
Friday, October 30, 2015 • 1:30 PM
Jason Sheltzer, PhD, CSHL Fellow - “Leaky Pipelines for Women in Science”
Followed by panel discussion :
Molly Hammell, PhD - Assistant Professor, CSHL
Maria Ryan, PhD - Professor, SBU
Jessica Tollkuhn, PhD - Assistant Professor, CSHL
Carrie Cowan, PhD - Associate Dean, WSBS-CSHL