Women’s History Month & Upcoming Events

March is Women’s History Month and AWIS CTC is partnering with the San Antonio Public Library to bring you What’s the Big Idea? – Science for Adults! This will be a three-part series of talks by women in STEM and is free and open to the public.

Check out the list of events below:

1) Speaker: Melanie Stine, Texas State University
Topic: What tree rings can tell us about history, ecosystems, and climate.
When & where: Semmes (SAPL Branch Library), Saturday, March 2 @ 2pm.

2) Speaker: Elyse Zavar, Texas State University
Topic: Post-flood community responses and decisions
When & Where: Maverick (SAPL Branch), Saturday, March 9 @ 4 pm

3) Speaker: Michele Johnson, Trinity University
Topic: Genomics and personalized medicine, and what it all really means
When & Where: Parman (SAPL Branch), Saturday, March 30 @ 2 pm

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“The Science Does Not Matter if it Stays Silent”- Dr. Pam Hines

Bringing More Professional Women into the Conversation

Najeda (Jade) L. Patolo for AWIS CTC

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Bringing More Professional Women into the Conversation

Najeda (Jade) L. Patolo for AWIS CTC

Yesterday, AWIS CTC had the pleasure of joining UT Center for Women in Law for breakfast with Dr. Pam Hines, senior editor of Science Magazine with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. Linda Chanow with the UT Center for Women in Law organized the breakfast, which included UT law students, UT Law alumni, and of course, AWIS CTC reps. Dr. Hines spoke of accepting a broad range of colleagues into AWIS saying, “There are many ways to bring science to the table…we should not be too restrictive.”

This discussion presents a common problem among the hard and soft sciences.  What exactly IS science? Does that term apply strictly to the traditional STEM disciplines, or should we include the “soft sciences” such as anthropology, geography, and sociology in the discussion? There is unfortunately no easy answer to these questions. Sitting with Dr. Hines, Dr. Chanow, and the rest of the assembly yesterday, we did reach one conclusion: communication (writing and speaking) between professionals in sciences and non-science colleagues must improve.  As Dr. Hines said, “the science does not matter if it stays silent.” As a specific example, in patent law, there is an absolute need for attorneys to understand the general science behind a piece of equipment or theory in order for them to effectively serve their clients. But how do we accomplish this? Should law students be required to learn the basic tenets of science, or is it the responsibility of scientists to become better communicators? Here again no easy answers are forth coming.

It is true that having a science background gives a patent attorney an enormous advantage, but it is not realistic to expect all law students to enroll in additional science classes. On the other side, scientists may question why the burden falls on us to improve our communication methods? Is it fair to ask professionals, whose time and resources are spent carrying out research and developing new technologies, to dedicate more of their time to improving methods of communication? There are compelling arguments for both of these tactics. Many professionals call for an increase in “connectors” or individuals with the ability to communicate with both parties to reach a fruitful end. For patent attorneys who deal in anything from computer science to advances in biochemistry, these people are often field experts. Experts are well compensated for their efforts and are often called on again as new technologies are developed. There are clearly amazing opportunities for professionals to become involved in lucrative partnerships both in their field and with legal professionals that can help with future project development.

For scientists, these connectors come in many forms. Such individuals are oftentimes found on the fringes of disciplines, balancing between different departments or scientific fields. Two specific types of connectors were discussed at length during our meeting.  These were educators and scientific writers, both of whom are essential for distributing information to the general public. While science is vital and fascinating, the maximum potential of any research may not be met if the work is not publicized in a manor that makes it understandable and available to society. Essentially, to quote Dr. Hines, the silent science “will not matter”.

This is not to suggest that connectors should be responsible for all communication between the scientific world and the general public. It is obvious that good communication is very important for scientists during conferences, for publications, and when applying for funding. It was suggested that perhaps AWIS CTC begin hosting interdisciplinary writing workshops and speaking groups for members to practice giving papers to a mixed audience. , In addition AWIS CTC can become involved in legal and scientific panel sessions to increase networks and mentorship opportunities by using our new connections with UT Center for Women in Law. In any professional field, be it science or law, there is the obvious problem of underrepresentation of women in higher-level positions. One reason for this is simple: men usually recommend men for such positions. Social capital is key to building connections and finding outside consulting positions, and women must become more visible. In order to do this, women need to increase networking efforts, self-promotion, and help pave the way for the next generation of scientists and legal professionals.  To aid in this effort, our chapter plans to promote the achievements of the women in our organization (e.g., scholarships, fellowships, awards, and grant recipients) both on our website, and through the National Chapter.

Upon leaving the meeting, we realize that we have our work cut out for us. Women in science must not only be exemplary in their chosen fields, but must also work together to increase communication and connections with women in other professions. If we choose to approach individuals outside of our discipline as colleagues instead of laypeople, we can increase our network and decrease barriers that hamper progress.

So, where do we go from here? Where do we start? AWIS CTC is still growing and changing. Our membership is still being defined. What would you like to see us do? The connections start when we decide to reach out and build them. We are so grateful to Dr. Hines for introducing us to UT Center for Women in Law, and helping AWIS CTC increase our network.

Women in Science Breakfast with Pamela J. Hines

Dr. Linda Chanow, Executive Director of the Center for Women in Law at The University of Texas, is organizing an impromptu breakfast for women at the intersection of law and science with guest speaker Pamela J. Hines, Ph.D. The breakfast will be held at UT Law School this Friday, November 16 from 8 – 10 AM in Townes Hall 3.119.  Breakfast tacos and coffee will be served.

Pamela J. Hines is a senior editor at Science, the international weekly journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She manages recruitment, selection, and review of research manuscripts, and also develops special issues and Review articles on various topics. She is an expert in the fields of stem cell research, developmental neurobiology, developmental biology, and plant sciences. In the course of her work at Science, Dr. Hines has followed research around the world and across disciplinary boundaries, working with scientists from many countries to identify the best research in the world.  While obtaining her degrees, she conducted research on chromatin, gene control, and the mechanisms of DNA replication in eukaryotes during early development. Throughout that time, Dr. Hines learned first-hand the challenges and joys of teaching.  Dr. Hines received her A.B. from Oberlin College, her M.S. degree from the University of Wisconsin, and her Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University.  Her areas of interest include stem cells, cell and molecular biology, developmental neurobiology, education, plant science, and developmental biology.

Next Meeting Scheduled for Tuesday, October 9th

Our next meeting is coming up this Tuesday, October 9th, at 5:00 pm. It will be held in the Lampasas (LAMP) building on the Texas State University campus, room 501.

The guest speaker will be Dr. Gwendolyn Hustvedt from the School of Family and Consumer Sciences. She will be discussing Texas State’s new Interdisciplinary Master’s Degree in Sustainability Studies.

Dr. Andrea Aspbury, from the Biology Department, will also be on hand to share some techniques for grant writing.

We are excited to hear from both of these professors and would love for you to join us!

As always, if you have any questions/comments, feel free to shoot us an email at awiscentraltx@gmail.com or find us on facebook. See you next Tuesday!

You can find a map showing LAMP at the university website.

Parking is available at the LBJ Student Center Garage or for free around The Square.

Meeting Notes – September 11, 2012

Thanks to everyone who made it out to the meeting yesterday! It was great seeing all of you. If you didn’t make it, don’t fret. We’d love to have you at the next one! Check the calendar for updates.

Here are some of the highlights from the meeting:

Yasmin Turk gave a presentation about HOPE for Senegal

  • There was an announcement that monthly meetings will be held the 2nd Tuesday of each month
    • Additionally, informal meetings will be held the 4th Wednesday of each month
  • A few upcoming events were discussed:
    • Women’s History Month with the San Antonio Public Library
    • NSF Advance
    • HOPE for Senegal
  • Possible projects were suggested:
    • scholarships to female students in Senegal
    • materials for classrooms in Senegal
  • Fundraiser possibilities were proposed

You can access the full meeting minutes at the following link: AWIS CTC Meeting 91112

First Meeting Scheduled

AWIS CTC will be having our first meeting of the 2012-13 school year next Tuesday, September 11th! We will be in the Lampasas building (LAMP) at Texas State University in San Marcos, room 502B. The meeting starts at 5:00 pm.

If you have anything specific you would like to see at meetings this year, bring your ideas with you! We’ll discuss opportunities for webinars, lectures, and other events. Also, Yasmin Turk will speak briefly about HOPE for Senegal and how we can get involved in this project.

As always, if you have any questions/comments, feel free to shoot us an email at awiscentraltx@gmail.com or find us on facebook. See you next Tuesday!

You can find a map showing LAMP at the university website.

Parking is available at the LBJ Student Center Garage or for free around The Square.

Welcome Back!

Bobcats, Longhorns, Bears, and everything in between have made the return to the classroom for a new year! This semester, why don’t you add something to your CV and become a part of the Association of Women in Science’s Central Texas Chapter? We’d love to have you!

In fact, whether you’re an existing or prospective member, we would like to invite you to fill out our short online survey about when and where you would be interested in attending an AWIS CTC meeting. You can access the survey here. We’ll keep the polls open until Friday, August 31st. If you have any additional questions or comments, feel free to find us on facebook or email us at awiscentraltx@gmail.com.