Debbie Berebichez

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Despite great advances in the inclusion of women in STEM, minority women, and Latinas in particular, remain severely underrepresented. This week’s WiSE Wednesday honoree, Debbie Berebichez, is out to change that. Despite an interest in science from a young age, constrictive stereotypes about women held her back from seeking a STEM degree – that is, until she met a mentor who changed her life. A teaching assistant at Brandeis University provided the encouragement and support she needed to add a physics major to her philosophy coursework in her third year of college. She went on to become the first Mexican-born woman to receive a PhD in physics from Stanford. Her research on acoustic waves has been a great benefit to wireless communications technology, but her influence extends far beyond the lab. In fact, her biggest contributions to STEM have likely been her work in inspiring other underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM careers. Wishing to pay forward the lessons received from her Brandeis mentor, Debbie started a foundation, MENTE, in Costa Rica that supports women in tech. In her role as Chief Data Scientist at Metis, a data science training provider, she works to provide scholarships and other resources to help women and underrepresented minorities pursue careers in computer science. Debbie also combines her scientific intellect with her gift for communications, speaking in the private and public sectors about the importance of STEM education and the benefits of diversity in STEM. You can watch Debbie in action as cohost of Outrageous Acts of Science on the Science Channel, where she seeks to make complex physics concepts accessible to a general audience.