The importance of a good role model cannot be understated. One of the most effective ways to inspire more girls to go into science is to show them people who look like them in positions of leadership in the classroom, the lab, and in the office. This International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we’re celebrating the scientists that inspire the women of the Wisconsin Energy Institute and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center.
Keep the conversation going!
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to add to this list and let us know who inspires you.
Assistant Professor of Soil Science at University of Wisconsin–Madison
"A woman I look up to in STEM is Dr. Erika Marín-Spiotta, who is a professor in Geography here at UW-Madison. Dr. Marín-Spiotta studies how some of the critical environmental issues of our time - changes in land use and climate - affect fundamental processes like biogeochemical cycling and ecological interactions. Dr. Marín-Spiotta also inspires me through her work in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the geosciences, such as her leadership in the Earth Science Women’s Network and her NSF-funded work on developing bystander intervention and ethics training. She champions her students and colleagues and is a supportive and inspiring mentor."
WEI Outreach and Events Coordinator
"I’m inspired by Alie Ward, a science communicator and podcaster. Alie oozes excitement about meeting and learning from the scientists she interviews on her show, Ologies. From her I’ve learned random facts about sharks getting suntans (Selachimorphology episode) and what the “cutest” piece of space junk is (Space Archaeology episode). But, more importantly, I’ve learned how to ask good questions and how to uncover, share, and make all sorts of delightful (and crucial) science relatable. Alie makes clear that science is for everybody and that curiosity is contagious – two foundations of my outreach efforts."
Assistant Professor of Public Affairs at University of Wisconsin–Madison
"Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and activist working at the intersection of science, policy, and community-building. She is a perfect example of the transformational role scientists can play in the climate crisis. She shows, in her writing and by example, how anti-racism and feminism are key to sound climate science and effective climate solutions. (See her article, “I’m a black climate expert. Racism derails our efforts to save the planet.") I highly recommend her co-edited anthology All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, which brings together essays and poems from a diverse group of women leading in the climate movement."
Postdoctoral Research Associate at Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
"The person that I admire within STEM is Catherine Kling, a Tisch university professor in the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management and Faculty Director at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University. I had the pleasure of meeting her when I was a graduate student at Iowa State University, and interacted with her on several occasions.
She is an incredible scientist and hardworking person who at the same time holds a very humble, honest heart and soul. A scientist highly committed to protecting the environment (e.g., water quality), reflected in all her outstanding and influential work on Environmental Economics and Policy (e.g., implementation of conservation policies in the Midwest). Cathy pulls together multidisciplinary teams to respond to complex environmental problems and proposed solutions to be translated into policy. An awesome scientist, headstrong woman that cares a lot about the future of our world.
Science needs more profiles like Cathy’s, highly committed and proactively working toward the protection of our environment, while at the same time to be great leaders and team-members of multidisciplinary projects."
Assistant Professor of Engineering Physics at University of Wisconsin–Madison
"The women I look up to in STEM are my aunt, Dr. Cindi Burnell, and one of my PhD dissertation advisors, Dr. Cynthia Phillips (PhD Physics from UW-Madison). I have so many great memories of my Aunt Cindi bringing along science experiments when she babysat me and my very first time seeing a real lab was when she took me to graduate school with her. My curiosity and love of science brought me to Princeton University and the male dominated field of fusion energy and plasma science. Part of the reason I'm doing the research I do now is because of Dr. Phillips - she was a brilliant scientist, lecturer and mentor and it was with her guidance that I found a passion in wave physics and saw first-hand that women can succeed in our field."
Professor & Chair of Life Sciences Communication at University of Wisconsin–Madison
"I actually have learnt to value myself. I think it is important for all of us women in STEM to realize our self worth and combat the impostor syndrome. We need to be proud of our own accomplishments."
Research Coordinator at Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center
"I stumbled upon Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson’s Instagram this summer and she has been a great inspiration ever since! Dr. Johnson is an optimistic climate change activist who hosts an uplifting podcast about solutions to climate change. I usually feel very pessimistic about the changing climate and her voice really gives me hope and inspires me to take action."
Undergraduate Research Assistant at Michigan Tech University
"Growing up, I always looked up to Marie Curie. Not only was she the first woman to receive a nobel prize, but she received two of them in different fields. She made amazing strides in chemistry and encouraged her daughter to follow her. She was an extraordinary woman and someone I've always had a lot of respect for."