Raising Nerd’s Women In Science
Assistant Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
“Follow your passion, and don’t always stick with the easiest route.”
What advice would you give to girls interested in pursuing Molecular Microbiology and how did you get into Molecular Microbiology?
You should focus on what you are interested in, not necessarily what is easiest for you. Science and math were never my best or easiest subjects. I always found them challenging, but enjoyable. I remember when I was pursuing my Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley I ran into a high school classmate. She was absolutely shocked that I was getting a Ph.D. in Biology, as she assumed I would be doing something related to writing. When I thought about it more I realized that looking in from the outside, it probably was surprising. However, I knew ever since I “borrowed” my older brother’s microscope to look for amoebas in pond water when I was about 7 years old, that I loved learning about living things. I think girls (more than boys) tend to think that they aren’t good at specific things, when the reality is that some things are just hard. Follow your passion, and don’t always stick with the easiest route.
Knowing about Biology, but also being a talented and confident coder is becoming more important every year.
Tell us about a time when you failed and how you overcame it or recovered from it.
I think at every step; where I went from being at the top of my class to the next school where I was just one of a lot of smart kids there were moments of doubt. This basically happened at nearly every stage (middle school to high school, high school to college, college to graduate school etc….). I usually struggled at the beginning, but then figured things out and did fine.
Now being a college advisor, I see this happen with a lot of my students. It is important to remember that you are smart, you are capable, and you can do most anything you put your mind to. You may look around and think that everyone has it all figured out and you are the only one struggling, but that isn’t true. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need to allow you to achieve your full potential.
Where do you anticipate the next big opportunity for girls in your field of Molecular Microbiology and what can they do to position themselves for success?
Having computer skills is becoming increasingly important in nearly every field these days, and Biology is no exception. Knowing about Biology, but also being a talented and confident coder is becoming more important every year. So my advice would be learn to code young, and stick with it. This is something that girls especially should keep in mind, as girls tend to move away from computer science as they get older. Don’t do that! Stick with it!
Celebrating Women in Science
February 11th is International Women & Girls in Science Day, so please join us in honoring these amazing women by sharing their stories and reminding every girl interested in STEM that with the desire, access, and a little persistence, they can do anything!
To read more about our tribute to the Women of Science, click here.