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Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) at WSU
Speakers

Keynote Plenary Speaker

Andrea Liu

Hepburn Professor of Physics
University of Pennsylvania

Andrea Liu is a theoretical soft and living matter physicist who received her A. B. and Ph.D. degrees in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Cornell University, respectively.  She was a faculty member in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA for ten years before joining the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. Liu is currently Speaker-Elect of the Council of the American Physical Society (APS) and Chair-Elect of the Physics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is a fellow of the APS, AAAS and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Plenary Speakers

Anita Sengupta

Co-Founder Airspace Experience Technologies
Research Professor of Astronautics at USC

Dr. Sengupta is an aerospace engineer, rocket scientist, pilot, and veteran of the space program. She worked for NASA for 16 years where her engineering projects included her PhD research on developing the ion propulsion system for the Dawn Mission (currently in the main asteroid belt), the supersonic parachute that landed the Curiosity rover on Mars, and the Cold Atom Laboratory an atomic physics facility now on board the International Space Station.

After leaving NASA she led the development of the hyperloop as senior vice president of systems engineering at Virgin Hyperloop, a technology that can enable ground based travel in excess of airline speed.  Her current venture is Co-Founder and Corporate Officer at Airspace Experience Technologies (ASX), an electrified autonomous VTOL urban aerial mobility technology company. As an engineering savvy executive and pilot, she is now leading the mobility solutions for smart cities by eliminating congestion and reducing the carbon footprint of air travel.

Dr. Sengupta received her MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California, where she is also a Research Associate Professor of Astronautics and Space Technology specializing in interplanetary entry system and green transportation technology. In her spare time she is an avid pilot, motorcyclist, scuba diver, snowboarder, hiker, long distance runner, and Sci-Fi fan.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Take yourself out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself throughout your career. The sky is not the limit only the beginning.”

Karen Catlin

Advocate for Inclusive Workplaces
Coach, Speaker and Author

Karen Catlin is a leadership coach, keynote speaker, author, and passionate advocate for inclusion in the workplace. After spending twenty-five years building software products and serving as a vice president of engineering at Macromedia and Adobe, she witnessed a sharp decline in the number of women working in tech. Frustrated but galvanized, she knew it was time to switch gears.

Today, Karen coaches women to be stronger leaders and men to be better allies. Her client roster includes Airbnb, DoorDash, eBay, and Intuit, as well as entrepreneurs and individuals. Karen’s coaching offerings include tactics for increasing visibility, being more strategic, managing stakeholders, negotiation, and cultivating ally skills. Her writing on these and related topics has appeared in Inc., the Daily BeastFast Company, and the Muse, and she’s consulted on articles for the Wall Street JournalForbes, and the New York Times. To help more people cultivate ally skills, she wrote Better Allies: Everyday Actions to Create Inclusive, Engaging Workplaces.

Karen is a graduate and active alum of Brown University, serving as an advisor to the university’s Computer Science Diversity Initiative and mentoring students on how to launch their careers. She’s also on the Advisory Boards for The Women’s CLUB of Silicon Valley and WEST (Women Entering & Staying in Technology). In 2015, the California State Assembly honored Karen with the Wonder Women Tech Innovator Award for outstanding achievements in business and technology and for being a role model for women.

Susannah Burrows

Photo Credit: Andrea Starr | Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Scientist
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division

Dr. Susannah Burrows became interested in weather and climate as a child growing up in central Pennsylvania, beginning when her second-grade teacher had the class keep a weather journal with observations of clouds and measurements from the school’s weather station.  She is currently an atmospheric scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, in Richland WA.  Her research interests include modeling sources of biological and biogenic aerosol particles, and more broadly, ecosystem interactions with climate.  She serves as Deputy Group Lead for Biogeochemistry in the Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) project, and is PI of a DOE Early Career award project (2018-2023), “Building a comprehensive understanding of ice nuclei sources from the ground up: Establishing the impact of sea spray and agricultural soils.”  She studied physics as an undergraduate at Oberlin College (BA, 2005) and then earned a Master’s degree in meteorology (atmospheric physics) and a PhD in atmospheric science at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and the Max Planck Graduate Center (2008, 2011).

Why is STEM/Physics important to you?

“Physics for me is the crystallization of the real world into mathematical forms, and this has an inherent aesthetic beauty to it.  But in addition to its inherent beauty, physics and science in general is deeply valuable in a practical sense.  It gives us the tools to better understand the world around us, and to predict what consequences our actions will have.  That knowledge can be used to help inform our decisions, and strive to make better choices as individuals and as a society.”

Workshop leaders and panelists

Holly Ashkannejhad

Director
Office of Civil Rights Compliance & Investigation
Lead Title IX Coordinator
Washington State University

Sandi Brabb

Director of Internships and Career Services
Violand College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University

Sandra “Sandi” Brabb is the Director of Internships & Career Services for the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture at Washington State University in Pullman, WA.  The Voiland College is home to over 4,000 students who are working toward careers throughout the state of Washington and beyond.  In addition to the primary campus in Pullman, the College offers degree programs in four other areas of the state, namely Richland, Vancouver, Bremerton, and Everett. Sandi conducts career and professional development activities at all the Voiland College campus sites.

Sandi earned a bachelor’s degree in Communications from California State University, Fullerton and a Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from WSU.  She has spent the last 28 years of her career at Washington State University where she has worked in a variety of student services and department administrative roles.  She was instrumental in building the WSU undergraduate Neuroscience program and was the founding director of student services for the WSU Edward R. Murrow College of Communication. In 2007, WSU President Lane Rawlins awarded her the President’s Excellence Award for leadership and service to the institution. In her current position, Sandi was tapped to develop a career services unit and to cultivate, shape, and grow a cooperative education and experiential learning program in the College.

Cigdem Capan

Clinical Assistant Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Washington State University, Tri-Cities

Originally from Turkey, Dr. Capan earned a scholarship after high school to study in France, where she got her undergraduate degree in physics from Ecole Normale Superieure. She came to the U.S. in 2002 after completing a Ph.D. in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Paris . She worked as a postdoctoral researcher first at Los Alamos National Laboratory (2002-2004) , then at  Louisiana State University (2004-2007)  before becoming a project scientist at the University of California Irvine (2007-2010). She has been a faculty member at WSU Tri-cities since 2010, where she teaches the introductory physics classes and continues to do research in nuclear magnetic resonance of actinide materials, in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to students in STEM?

“Cultivate your curiosity and creativity, for scientific research requires as much original thinking as arts. Train your mind to always ask questions, wanting to go deeper and to learn more. Learn to embrace challenge, not walk away from it.”

Katie Cooper

Associate Professor
School of the Environment
Washington State University

Katie Cooper is a geophysicist at WSU who uses a unique combination of many different STEM fields to perform her current research. Her primary research tool is computational modeling as applied to solid mechanics and fluid dynamics in a field called computational geodynamics. Katie is drawn to big picture questions, like “How did the Earth develop plate tectonics?”, “Did other planets in their evolution?”, and “How is the Earth’s land formed and how permanent are old, continental interiors?” In addition to her main research goals, Katie has also been deeply involved in STEM education throughout her career, from her early days as an undergraduate student leader and leader to more recent research on how to effectively incorporate climate change within undergraduate geology curriculum. She is dedicated to not only exploring the world herself, but to also foster a learning environment wherein all students can also engage in pondering the big questions of Earth science.

Why is STEM important to you?
“STEM/physics is important to me because how cool is it that I get to 1) think about some of the biggest questions that humans have been pondering about since they started pondering and 2) I get to share that with students as well as with innocent bystanders who just happened to ask or mention something about how the Earth works in my ear shot.  It’s given me tools to problem solve have extended beyond my career and day job.  It’s also opened doors for me.  I come from a remote small town in West Texas – international travel was so far off my radar that I didn’t even imagine myself doing it!  It wasn’t something that I didn’t know that I could even dream about doing.  But my STEM career has taken me to Japan, Australia, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Russia, to name a few, to both share my science as well as learn from others.  Finally, it’s encouraged me to be a life-time learner and remain ever curious.”

Deborah Fygenson

Professor of Physics and Biomolecular Science & Engineering
University of California, Santa Barbara

Deborah K. Fygenson is an experimentalist working at the intersection of soft condensed matter and molecular biophysics. She received her B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University, respectively, and has been on the faculty at the University of California, Santa Barbara since 1998.  Her scientific mission is to better understand, rationally design, and build molecular machines and nanostructured materials.  As an educator she is passionate about transforming the introductory physics laboratory curriculum to train students in the rigors of quantitative observation and the experimentalist mindset.

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO STUDENTS STUDYING STEM?

“In life, as in the most exciting science, the terrain between where you are now and where you want to be in the end is unmapped.  Don’t stress about taking the most direct route — it is often unnavigable. Just try to make every step you take be a local improvement.  You’ll enjoy the journey and inevitably find yourself in a place, or with an insight, of value.”

Samantha Gizerian

Associate Professor, WSU
Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies
Dept. of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience
College of Veterinary Medicine

Samantha Gizerian is a neuroscientist who followed her passion out of the research lab into the classroom.  She received a BS in Biology from Caltech and a PhD in Neurobiology from UNC Chapel Hill, where she studied links between early life stress and mental illness.  At WSU, in addition to teaching freshman- and senior-level Neuroscience classes and advising Neuroscience students, she designs curriculum and works with other faculty to implement innovative teaching methods and increase diversity in STEM programs.  She is also working to improve the way scientists communicate about science, using outreach programs as a vehicle to help students develop skills to communicate about their work.  In her (not so) copious free time she enjoys knitting, making, jam, watching sports, and playing with her dogs, Cooper and Ginny.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to students in STEM?

“One piece of advice I have for STEM students is to follow the connections.  All of STEM is connected at basic levels.  What we study in biology is described by chemistry, physics, and math as well.  Understanding that all of these fields are connected, and looking for those connections, helps us understand our chosen field in a much deeper way.”

Moira Gresham

Associate Professor
Department of Physics
Whitman College

Moira Gresham is Nathaniel Shipman Associate Professor of Physics at Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA. She conducts theoretical particle physics and cosmology research alongside teaching and mentoring undergraduate students. Professor Gresham earned a BA in physics from Reed College, an MA from Cambridge University and a PhD in theoretical physics from Caltech. She spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan before joining the Whitman Faculty in 2011.

Why is STEM important to you?
“I am fascinated by the foundational nature of things and I love solving difficult problems. Physics is a subject and approach that I think cuts to the heart of ‘the foundational nature of things.’ It also presents fascinating problems to solve and powerful techniques to use in solving them. I am committed to helping students develop mental flexibility and problem-solving skills so that they, too, can approach difficult problems of both a practical and impractical nature. While many of the problems I approach in my research are arguably more academic than practical (e.g. the dark matter problem), I acknowledge the very difficult societal and environmental problems that we face, and I think we need flexible folks with strong problem-solving skills in a variety of STEM fields and other fields to work together to have a chance of solving them.”

Raymond Herrera

Assistant Dean for Recruitment and Retention
Director of the McNair Program
Washington State University Graduate School

Born and Raised in San José, California, Dr. Herrera served in the United States Marine Corps before coming to WSU in the fall of 1992 to begin his college education with the assistance of the Montgomery G.I. Bill. Dr. Herrera earned his PhD in Counseling Psychology from WSU and completed his internship in Professional Psychology at the Counseling Center at the University of California, Davis. He serves as the treasurer for the Washington State TRiO Association, Senior Diversity Liaison for the Graduate School, an advisory board member and consultant for many outreach, recruiting, and retention efforts across the WSU campus, and is a past Co-Chair of the WSU Chicana/o Latina/o Faculty Staff Association. He recently completed a two-year appointment on the Council of Graduate Schools/Council for Opportunity in Education Joint National Committee on McNair Programs.

Sarah Kaiser

Research Engineer
Pensar Development

Dr. Sarah Kaiser has spent much of her career developing new quantum hardware in the lab, from satellites to hacking quantum cryptography hardware. Communicating what is so exciting about quantum is her passion, and she loves finding new demos and tools to help enable the quantum open source community to grow. When not at the keyboard she loves kayaking, laser cutting everything (safe), and writing books about engineering for kids. She is currently a Research Engineer at Pensar Development in downtown Seattle.

Why is STEM important to you?

“STEM is how we build a better society. The people working in STEM should reflect the diversity of our society.”

Rosanne Kelley

Program Manager
Microsoft

Rosanne Kelley received her Bachelor of Science in Physics from Washington State University in 2010 and spent the next eight years working as Program Manager at Astronics AES, an aerospace electronics company in Kirkland, WA. Rosanne joined the Microsoft team in 2018, where, as a Program Manager in the Surface group, she is responsible for Power, Performance and Thermals across the Microsoft Surface product line.

Rosanne was born and raised in the greater Seattle area and says that her interest in physics was peaked after having an amazing high school physics teacher. When she isn’t spending time at work defining requirements and collaborating across teams, Rosanne can be found swimming, biking and running. She has completed 3 full Ironman and countless half- and shorter-distance triathlons. She says that tackling challenges and working through them to achieve big things has become a driving force in her life.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Keep an open mind, study what you love and never stop learning! The skills you learn through studying STEM — things like analytical thinking, concise reporting, and dynamically scaling the way you approach a topic, just to name a few — are invaluable in the workplace, and widely applicable to so much more than just the “typical” career paths.”

Lindsay LeBlanc

Assistant Professor of Physics
University of Alberta
Canada Research Chair in Ultracold Atomic Gases

Dr. Lindsay LeBlanc is Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Alberta, and Canada Research Chair in Ultracold Quantum Gases. After earning her bachelors degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta in 2003 and her Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Toronto in 2011, she headed to Gaithersburg, MD, where she worked with the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue developing the tools and techniques needed to make and measure systems of ultracold atom. Currently, Dr. LeBlanc runs a state-of-the-art ultracold quantum gases laboratory at the University of Alberta, which focuses on both fundamental research and practical applications using these very cold atoms. Outside the lab, Dr. LeBlanc enjoys curling, cycling, and cooking, and re-exploring the world through the eyes of her two-year-old kid.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?

“One should always remember that it’s people who *do* science, and that the experience, personality, and biases of the people doing it influence what and how we look at things. Science is not separate from our humanity, and by remembering that, we have a better chance of learning new things.  To paraphrase the wonderful Prof. Ursula Franklin: we need to do science as though people matter.”

Janelle Leger

Professor and Chair
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Director, Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center
Western Washington University

Janelle Leger was the first faculty hire for the Advanced Materials Science and Engineering Center at Western Washington University, where she is currently serving as the Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.  Janelle was an NSF Discovery Corps Postdoctoral scholar at the University of Washington Department of Chemistry from 2005 – 2008, after receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz Department of Physics and her B.S. in Physics from the University of California at Davis. Her research group explores organic and hybrid electronic and optoelectronic devices as well as structures for subwavelength optics. She has mentored over 50 undergraduate research students in interdisciplinary scholarship since joining WWU in 2008.

Why is STEM/Physics important to you?

“The sciences are important to me because they enable individuals and policy-makers to make decisions that affect everyone in an informed, evidence-based way. They also enable progress. What could be better?”

Judi McDonald

Associate Dean for the Graduate School
Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Washington State University

Dr. McDonald is a complete academic who is passionate about research, education, and shared governance. Her research focuses on predicting properties based on patterns in linear algebraic structures. She is a co-author of an introductory linear algebra textbook and enthusiastically educates, mentors, and learns from students at all levels, freshman through post-doctoral. As a professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics since 2001, she has served as the committee chair and advisor for more than 20 graduate students and has published more than 40 peer‑reviewed papers. She has served in leadership roles in the Faculty Senate, including chair of the Faculty Senate in the 2017‑18 academic year and incoming president-elect of the PAC-12 Academic Leadership Coalition. She has served on numerous University-wide committees including the Board of Regents. She recently joined the Graduate School as an associate dean in 2019, where she is responsible for the oversight of the Research Assistantships for Diverse Scholars (RADS) and Campus Visit for Diverse Scholars program.

Ann McEvoy

Head of Microscopy Development, NIPS
Invitae

Ann McEvoy graduated from WSU, in 2004, where she majored in biochemistry and physics.  In 2012, she received her Ph.D. in biophysics from UC Berkeley, where she studied bacterial chemotaxis using super-resolution optical microscopy.  After graduation, she became a lead system developer for super-resolution microscopes at GE Healthcare.  Continuing to work on microscopy development, she transitioned to a small start-up company called Singular Bio, where she led the hardware development of a medical diagnostic system used for non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS).  The company was recently acquired by Invitae, where Ann is working to scale-up and productize the technologies that were developed at Singular Bio.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“My advice to STEM students is to remember that you can have a fulfilling career regardless of whether you are in the public or private sector.  The quantitative reasoning and critical thinking skills that you acquire in STEM fields can be applied to any pursuit, whether you decide to serve your community, go into industry or continue in academia.  The sky is the limit, so pursue the things that excite you most.”

Michele Moore

Astronomy Instructor
Planetarium Co-Director
Spokane Falls Community College

Michele Moore began her college career at the age of 40. In a decade, she earned an AA, a BS and MS in Physics, along with her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. She is a tenured faculty at Spokane Falls Community College – the very place she began this educational journey. Her passion has been sharing the joy of science and math with her students at SFCC where she teaches beginning astronomy courses, is a co-director of the SFCC Planetarium and its community outreach program, and is the faculty advisor to the Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society chapter on campus. Last year, she took a 14-month expedition through central and south America in her Toyota Tundra with a roof-top tent. While visiting remote villages and small communities, she developed an even stronger appreciation for the educational opportunities available to her.

Jamie Nolan

Associate Vice President
Community, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence
Washington State University

Nolan graduated from WSU with both an undergraduate and graduate degrees in American Studies with a focus on American Comparative Cultures. Additionally, Nolan completed her doctorate in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her experience includes serving as associate vice president for community, equity, and diversity at the University of New Hampshire, as chief diversity officer at South Dakota State University and director of the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Community.

On the WSU Pullman campus, Nolan oversees the Gender Identity/Expression Sexual Orientation and Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, Multicultural Student Services, Access Center, Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center and the Office of Equity and Diversity. Nolan also leads and coordinates WSU system-wide culture and climate efforts.

Nolan believes in building long-lasting and sustainable programming that can help students flourish. Her efforts have been recognized and duplicated on other college campuses across the country. This includes the development of Breaking Bread, a program designed to create opportunities to build partnerships, alliances, and networks across differences through the sharing of a meal.

Shelley Pressley

Associate Dean, Student Success
Associate Research Professor
Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
Washington State University

Anya Rasmussen

Instructor
Department of Physics & Astronomy
Washington State University

Anya Rasmussen is a physics educator, long-distance hiker, and Ph.D. alumna of the WSU Physics Department. After completing a traditional route through her undergraduate and graduate physics education, Anya found an unusual frontier in STEM education, corporate training at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL). At SEL Anya led a team of fellow STEM educators in developing a math and science employee development program. Last summer Anya stepped down from leading the STEM program at SEL to hike 1100+ miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. She is thrilled to be returning to WSU for the Spring 2020 term to teach physics classes while simultaneously planning and training for the next leg of her Pacific Crest Trail hike.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Don’t let what you “should do” get in the way of what you want to do. Take the unusual route, it will be more beautiful, because it will be yours.”

Bobbie Riley

Confidently Funemployed

Bobbie graduated from Washington State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. After working as a lab researcher and engineer and then in the IT field for several years, Bobbie is now purposefully unemployed and pursuing informal retraining opportunities. Over the next year she plans to complete several personal fulfillment goals and will be documenting her Funemployment journey on social media.

Bobbie and her husband, Kevin Daily (PhD WSU ’12), have donated to the WSU physics department since 2013 and have a passion for promoting the success of underrepresented people in STEM. They believe diversity, equity and inclusion are positive forces for achieving success for both individuals and businesses and Bobbie plans to continue to use her privilege to elevate women and minorities to reach their goals in STEM.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Actively try to build positive peer relationships with people across genders, cultures and races. Diversity of thought is vital for progress so work toward creating inclusive and welcoming environments wherever you go.”

Pearl Sandick

Associate Professor, Department of Physics & Astronomy
Associate Dean for Faculty Affairs, College of Science
University of Utah

Pearl Sandick earned a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 2008 and was a postdoctoral fellow in the Theory Group at the University of Texas at Austin before moving to Utah in 2011. Professor Sandick is a theoretical particle physicist studying physics beyond the Standard Model, including possible explanations for the dark matter in the Universe. In addition to her research, she’s passionate about teaching, mentoring students, and making science accessible and interesting to non-scientists. She has given a TEDx talk, been interviewed on KCPW’s Cool Science Radio and NPR’s Science Friday, and received a 2016 University of Utah Early Career Teaching Award.  Professor Sandick has recently served on the American Physical Society (APS) Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and as the Chair of the National Organizing Committee for the APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiPs), and is currently the Vice Chair of the Four Corners Section.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Build and maintain a professional network.  Whatever your career goals are, your curiosity and interests will guide you to exciting projects and ideas. The people in your network can help you become aware of and create opportunities, and can be an invaluable resource throughout your career.  Start making connections today!”

Amber Strunk

Outreach Coordinator
LIGO Hanford

As Education and Outreach Coordinator for LIGO’s Hanford Observatory Amber Strunk enjoys sharing the fascinating physics, engineering, and technology necessary to detect gravitational waves with the public. She earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Physics from Fort Hays State University before pursuing a Master of Education from Arizona State University. Amber taught high school physics for seven years before joining the extraordinary team at LIGO. When she is not talking about physics she can be found making something with her sons.

Why is STEM important to you?
“STEM is important not only because it provides a way for us to understand the universe but it is integral to every aspect of life today. Having even a basic understanding of STEM topics make people more informed citizens and consumers.”

Rachel Webber

Science Writer and Dr. Universe
Washington State University

Rachel Webber is a science writer at Washington State University. She produces Ask Dr. Universe, a service of WSU, which promotes science learning and exploration for children, particularly those 8-12 years old. Through the website and other outreach such as STEM educational events, children and/or parents and educators submit questions, which are answered by the Dr. Universe character in consultation with WSU researchers and experts.

Rachel was raised in the Pacific Northwest and graduated from WSU with B.A. in Journalism in 2011. This spring she will complete her M.A. in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Your story matters. Share your science. Science communication helps support science literacy. Science literacy benefits everyone. It makes us more informed decision makers, voters, and lifelong learners.

Jessica Werk

Assistant Professor
Department of Astronomy
University of Washington

Jessica Werk is an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Washington. She studies atomic transitions in intergalactic matter to understand how galaxies interact with their gaseous environments and evolve over cosmic time.  By aiming giant telescopes at distant and bright objects, she uses optical and ultraviolet spectrographs to study atoms of carbon, oxygen, and silicon billions of light years away. All of the various atomic transitions that imprint in intergalactic gas have the potential to reveal our cosmic origins in the vast cycle of baryons that takes place on galactic scales over billions of years. 
 
What is one piece of advice you would give to students studying STEM?
“Any time you are struggling with understanding a particular concept, know that this struggle is a critical step toward learning. Go toward your confusion — that is how breakthroughs in understanding happen.”

Wipawee ”Joy” Winuthayanon

Assistant Professor, School of Molecular Biosciences
Center for Reproductive Biology
Washington State University

Dr. Winuthayanon completed a BS.N. in Nursing Science and Midwifery in 2002 and her Ph.D. in Physiology in 2009 both from Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand. Because of her interest in women’s health, she underwent training in midwifery for several months during her final year of nursing school. To integrate basic science knowledge with clinical relevance, Dr. Winuthayanon has directed her interests towards a career path in reproductive sciences focusing on the reproductive physiology in women. Her post-doctoral research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS/NIH) was focusing on the estrogen and phytoestrogen effects on female reproductive function using mouse models. Her research program at the School of Molecular Biosciences is set out to decipher roles of hormonal regulation in the oviduct and uterus during fertilization, pre-implantation embryo development, and embryo transport using genetically engineered animal models. Her research team is developing new “on-demand” contraceptive methods for women.


CUWiP@WSU