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Women in Natural Sciences Inspire a New Generation

Women in Natural Sciences Inspire a New Generation
Women in Natural Sciences students demonstrate some explosive chemistry at an adult event at Thinkery, Austin’s children’s museum.

Amid the national debate about the lack of women in science, experts often cite the need for more female role models to inspire a new generation. Today, there are signs that the public face of science is changing. In Austin, among the vanguard are young women scientists.

Last month, the Women in Natural Sciences (WINS) program at UT Austin received a grant from the Association of American University Women (AAUW) to promote science in the community.

WINS is collaborating with Austin's children's museum, Thinkery, to encourage kids to get involved and interested in science. Through the "TWINS Project," students in WINS will volunteer at community events hosted at Thinkery, including Chemistry Week, Engineers Day, Nano Day and a summer camp for children.

WINS coordinator Elizabeth Morgan spoke with the Daily Texan recently about the importance of this project.

"I think it's very important for kids to see women role models in the STEM field and for (students) to interact more with the community," Morgan said. "Having young kids connect to college students and especially women in science is really important."

This is not the first time Thinkery and WINS teamed up to spread excitement about science. Previously, WINS students were featured in the Wall Street Journal alongside Dr. Kate Biberdorf for bringing science to adults participating in a Thinkery21 adult holiday party.

"We have found that WINS students are excited to share their knowledge and that, in turn, helps spread more excitement about learning and discovering," Katie Kizziar, associate director of research and innovation at Thinkery, told the Daily Texan.

WINS students join the esteemed company of other pioneering women in science to receive AAUW grants. For example, almost 100 years ago, the association awarded a grant to eventual two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie to continue her groundbreaking research on radium.

This year, the College of Natural Sciences is celebrating the achievements and milestones of women in science, in part in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Curie's birth. As part of this campaign, WINS and Texas Women in Computer Science are cohosting a panel discussion on Friday, Sep. 22 featuring four distinguished women scientists who are alumni of the College of Natural Sciences. They will discuss how they navigate opportunities, barriers and experiences in a variety of science and technology fields, as well as answer questions from attendees.

The WINS program aims to create a community of women scholars focused on scientific achievement at UT Austin and beyond by encouraging and supporting scientific interest in school-aged girls and young women. Morgan told The Daily Texan that she hopes the TWINS project will help further this goal by inspiring and supporting young women to pursue science.

"Maybe one of the young girls at one of the community nights or events that we do will be really motivated about science," Morgan said. "Maybe she'll apply for WINS one day or move forward with something in science, engineering or math."

Read More:

Wall Street Journal: When Grown-Ups Party at the Children's Museum

Daily Texan: Female UT students in 'TWINS Project' will promote science at local children's museum

Women in Science Panel Discussion

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Sunday, 22 October 2017

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