Igniting Passion And Diversity In STEM
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young boy and girl work together in classroom on a STEM project

It wasn’t until my first job out of college—one in the wireless business—that I developed a passion for technology and saw how STEM impacts everything we do. This was the spark that led me to fall in love with the network engineering elements of wireless, and the more immersed I got in the industry, the more exposed and interested I was in other components of technology.

Now, as the father of a teenage daughter who’s interested in STEM subjects and potentially even computer science, I want her to find her own opportunities, discover where her passions lie, and to ensure she has the resources and encouragement to pursue them.

In the U.S., there simply aren’t enough people pursuing STEM to meet growing technology demands. According to the Smithsonian Science Education Center, “78 percent of high school graduates don’t meet benchmark readiness for one or more college courses in mathematics, science or English.” And then there are barriers to STEM advancement like four or six-year degree requirements for many jobs—which are remarkably difficult for most people to afford. So it’s not that surprising when people like Nasdaq vice chairman Bruce Aust say, “By 2020, there will be one million more computing jobs than there will be graduates to fill them, resulting in a $500 billion opportunity gap.”

What’s clear is we need to make it easier for people to experiment with STEM early in life, then create accessible and alternative opportunities to pursue their dreams. Equally important, we need to find ways to dramatically advance gender diversity in STEM fields to accelerate innovation around the world.

Fostering Excitement Around STEM Takes a Village

Organizations like the Washington Alliance for Better Schools (WABS)—which I’m on the board of—partners with school districts around Western Washington State, and is an example of families, teachers, schools, and public and private sector businesses uniting to develop meaningful STEM education and advancement opportunities, because everyone involved can benefit. Hands-on learning and vocational programs like their After School STEM Academy is a great way to help students connect the dots of scientific principles in a fun way. And WABS’ 21st Century Community Learning Centers leverage Title IV funds to help students meet state and local academic standards—from homework tutoring to leadership opportunities that can turn into summer internships or jobs.

As students’ interests in STEM grow, it creates a fantastic opportunity for businesses to see passions play out through hackathons, group ideation, and other challenges. Recently, for the second consecutive year, T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge initiative—in partnership with Ashoka—called on youth aged 13 to 23 from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to submit big ideas for how they would drive change in their communities. T-Mobile received 428 entries—a 28% increase over last year—133 in the ‘Tech for Good’ category. Interestingly, one quarter of all the tech entries were focused on STEM projects and even more interestingly, 63% of all technology category applications were from young women.

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

A History of AAPI Representation in ‘Star Wars’
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STAR WARS, BRITISH RELEASE POSTER WITH AMERICAN STYLE C DESIGN, TOM WILLIAM CHANTRELL, 1977

By Keith Chow, The Nerds of Color

The month of May holds a special place in the hearts of Asian American and Pacific Islander Star Wars fans. For starters, May has been AAPI Heritage Month since 1990, though it originally began as “Asian Pacific Heritage Week” when it was proposed in Congress by Representatives Frank Horton and Norman Y. Mineta in 1977. That’s right, 1977. You know what else debuted in May 1977?

Before the last three Star Wars movies — Episodes VII and VIII, plus Rogue One — became staples of the Holiday Movie Season, every other film in the Saga was a May release. (This year, Lucasfilm finally returns to tradition when Solo: A Star Wars Story debuts in theaters on May 25). Also, “Star Wars Day” falls every May the Fourth, so naturally, May is Star Wars Month by default. So what better way to honor both AAPI Heritage Month and Star Wars then by going through the history of AAPI representation in the Galaxy Far, Far Away?

The Original Trilogy

The Hidden Fortress (1958)

It’s no secret that the filmography of Akira Kurosawa had a huge influence on George Lucas’ space opera. Kurosawa’s 1958 film The Hidden Fortress is perhaps the most obvious. Beyond the narrative echoes between the two stories, Lucas had intended to rhyme Star Wars and Hidden Fortress even more by casting the legendary Toshiro Mifune, one of Kurosawa’s frequent collaborators and the star of Hidden Fortress, as either Darth Vader or Obi-Wan Kenobi. Sadly, Mifune turned down the role, and it would be more than two decades before an Asian face would be seen in Star Wars — not counting Nien Nunb or Lieutenant Telsij (the first Asian actor to speak a line of dialogue in any Star Wars movie), of course.

Twenty years later, in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi, Dalyn Chew became the first actor of Asian descent to have any significant screen time in a Star Wars movie. In an extended musical number inserted into Jedi, Chew plays Lyn Me, one of the backup dancers at Jabba’s Palace. Sure, she doesn’t really have any lines, but she did get more than four seconds of screen time and an action figure!

The Prequel Trilogy

When Lucas returned to the franchise in the late ’90s to tell the backstory of Darth Vader, he also forgot to cast AAPI actors in any significant roles. Aside from Dhruv Chanchani as Ani’s friend Kitsterthe only other Asian-coded characters in The Phantom Menace are the Neimoidians and Queen Amidala’s wardrobe. Speaking of Padme’s fetish for Oriental wear, perhaps the filmmakers were trying to make amends for the original queen’s fashion by casting actual Asian and Pacific Islander actresses like Ayesha Dharker and Keisha Castle-Hughes for subsequent Queens of Naboo?

Ayesha Dharker as Jamilia in Attack of the Clones (2002) & Keisha Castle-Hughes as Apailana in Revenge of the Sith (2005)

The prequel Attack of the Clones in 2002 was also responsible for the most significant AAPI casting decision to date. In addition to several blink-and-you’ll-miss-them AAPI Jedis, veteran Maori actor Temuera Morrison was chosen to play Jango Fett. Not only was Jango the most heavily marketed character of the prequel sequel, casting Morrison had ripple effects in terms of representation throughout the Saga.

Because Jango was the source for all of the Clone Troopers, that meant beloved characters like Captain Rex from the animated Clone Wars were also coded as Pacific Islander. More significantly, Daniel Logan was cast as the pre-pubescent Boba Fett, meaning the man underneath that iconic helmet from the Original Trilogy was also Maori. A point made even more clearly when Lucas had Morrison redub all of Boba Fett’s lines for all future digital and blu-ray releases of the trilogies and allowed Logan to reprise the role on Clone Wars.

Temuera Morrison as Jango Fett & Daniel Logan as Boba Fett in Attack of the Clones (2002)

The Force Awakens & Rogue One

In 2012, the Walt Disney Company purchased Lucasfilm and the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for just over $4 billion. This acquisition signaled a new era in the Star Wars franchise, promising a continuation of the Saga stories but also an interconnected universe of movies, television, comics, and everything in between. Production on the sequel trilogy — the long-promised Episodes VII through IX — began soon after when J.J. Abrams, the man who reinvigorated the moribund Star Trek movie franchise, was brought on to direct the first new Star Wars movie in a decade.

In the run-up to The Force Awakens, Abrams and the Lucasfilm brain trust were asked about Asian representation in the future of Star Wars during a Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con, to which the director famously responded, “Go Asians!”

When The Force Awakens finally premiered, the promise of more AAPI characters in Star Wars was realized… sort of. While TFA featured more AAPI actors than all previous six films combined, none of them could be considered major characters.

For instance, the buzz surrounding the announcement that stars from The Raid, the cult martial arts classic from Indonesia, was going to be in the film as the fearsome Kanjiklub was soon met with indifference once audiences figured out their screen time would be severely limited. Other actors like Ken Leung (as Admiral Statura) and Jessica Henwick (as Resistance pilot Jess Pava) wouldn’t fare much better since their scenes are also glorified cameos.

Ken Leung as Admiral Statura with Carrie Fisher as General Leia Organa in The Force Awakens (2015)

Click here to read the full article on The Nerds of Color.

Looking at Environmental Protection Through the Lens of Disability
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By Alliah Czarielle, Hemophilia News Today

Climate change has been a hot topic in our circles lately. We feel it very much in the Philippines, where hot summers in the months of April and May have quickly turned into a season of strong typhoons and dangerous floods. Recently, a major typhoon hit the province of Leyte, causing a tragic landslide.

Individuals can only do so much to “save” our planet (and humanity) from the drastic effects of climate change. But we can make a difference by doing little things. We can boycott single-use plastics if we’re in a position to do so, lower our energy consumption, and deal with waste appropriately through proper separation and recycling.

Of course, having a disability factors into the equation about how much one can do to help the earth. Many people with disabilities must resort to less eco-friendly practices in order to address health issues and to thrive, although that’s not to say disabled people can’t take steps to be eco-friendly.

For instance, my husband, Jared, infuses factor products to treat his hemophilia. This procedure involves single-use plastic tubes, metal needles, and glass bottles.

According to a 2019 National Geographic article, one expert estimated that 25% of the waste generated by U.S. healthcare facilities is plastic. This is because the equipment used to treat patients needs to be sterile, and plastic serves that need well.

When my mom was ill with cancer, she needed to drink from plastic straws due to the limitations she had. And by the time she was bedridden, she needed to use disposable adult diapers.

In Japan, a country with a rapidly aging population, adult diaper waste is a growing concern, as The New York Times reported last year. Used diapers are likely to end up in incinerators, like most of the country’s waste. Compared with other types of waste, diapers require more fuel to burn, leading to costly waste management bills and high carbon emissions.

To help alleviate this problem, the Japanese town of Houki converted one of the town’s incinerators into a diaper recycling plant, which in turn produces fuel for a public bathhouse, the Times reported. This, in turn, helps to lower natural gas costs. Japan is fortunate to have the resources to come up with this creative solution.

Since there are limitations to taking steps to protect the environment when accessing or providing healthcare by people with disabilities or those who work at treatment centers, I offer the following suggestions.

If you can afford to, avoid single-use plastics.
If using single-use plastics cannot be avoided, be mindful of how often you use them and how you dispose of them. Seek out alternatives to the plastic bags you use for shopping or carrying things. At home, stock up with multiple-use, high-quality storage containers.

Leave single-use plastic products to the ones who really need them to live. This includes people with disabilities, older people, and babies, for example.

Avoid fast fashion.
I am guilty of patronizing fast fashion — which refers to the mass production of high-fashion clothing trends — because I like dressing up. My clothing budget is quite low, hence the temptation for cheap clothes from chain retailers.

According to a 2019 article by Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen, the fashion industry is responsible for producing 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics.

What percentage of clothing in your closet do you actually wear? Think about it, and try not to buy more than you would actually use. Instead of shopping for new clothes, why not shop at secondhand stores or learn to rework old clothing into more modern styles?

Jared’s entire collection of clothes fits into just one drawer. This makes his wardrobe easier to organize. He wears a “uniform” of plain, minimalist T-shirts with classic denim jeans or shorts. When I first met him in college, he still wore clothes from as early as sixth grade! He only updated his wardrobe when he built up muscle as an adult and needed to switch to clothing a few sizes bigger.

Jared doesn’t go out as often as I do, and bleeding episodes occasionally force him to stay at home. He also considers himself more of an indoor type. So he doesn’t think he needs many clothes.

But even if one’s lifestyle is active or outgoing, we can find some perspective from people like Jared. After all, how many clothes do we really need? As my drawers are now filled to the brim with clothes, I actively try to avoid buying new ones. Furthermore, I now support a local seamstress instead of buying from retail chains. The sewing takes time, but the outcome is often top quality and looks great. It’s also more eco-friendly, and I get to support someone’s livelihood.

Click here to read the full article on Hemophilia News Today.

IOScholarships Launches New Superheroes Podcast & Blog to Encourage More Diverse Students to Pursue Careers in STEM
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five superheroes in different costumes

IOScholarships, a platform that provides access to scholarships worth over $48 million for diverse students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers is launching a new Superheroes Podcast. The host of the series is María Trochimezuk, founder of IOScholarships, well known for her work as a spokesperson for diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and her passion to increasing opportunities for underrepresented students in STEM.

In the podcast, María Fernanda interviews STEM students and experts to learn about more about their path to STEM, what kind of thinkers they are, and the unique benefits of a multicultural approach to careers in STEM. Episodes are 10 minutes on average.

“We are thrilled to be launching the first IOScholarships Superheroes Podcast. Not only it is exciting to hear from the innovators of the future, it’s also inspiring to hear how they overcame obstacles and how their ethnic background is so unique for doing incredible things in the STEM field,” said María Trochimezuk, founder of IOScholarships.

IOScholarships blog provides comprehensive bilingual articles on financial wellness, career tips and some of the most important issues related to STEM. The platform features the scholarship of the month, internship, and job opportunities.

Some of the May featured scholarships and career opportunities include the Olay Face STEM Scholarship open to female sophomores of color, majoring in a STEM field and the Intel Scholarship which helps STEM undergraduate and graduate students of color.

Data shows that roughly 20% of whites and students of color declare STEM subjects as their majors entering college, but nearly 40% of minority students change their majors and more than 20% left school without earning a degree.  As a result, while Blacks, Native Americans, Alaska Natives and Hispanics collectively form 27% of the population, but they account for only 11% of America’s science and engineering workers.

“This data is what fuels IOScholarships. It is imperative that we raise awareness of the benefits of diversity in STEM if we want to build a robust STEM pipeline,” said María Trochimezuk.

The new redesigned website, developed by Diego Wuethrich, head of operations at IOScholarships, makes easier for students to look for scholarships and financial wellness resources and provides a refreshed “digital front door” for students interested in IOScholarships’ community. Also, the logo was powered by creative designer Andrea Leon-Grossman who has more than 15 years of creative experience with proven success in developing visual campaigns and delivering results.

The superheroes were created by talented IO Scholar, Matthew Rada who is an aspiring 2D character designer and storyboard artist.

IOSCHOLARSHIPS SUPERHEROES POWERS

  1. SCIENCE
    1. Sofia ~aka~ C O M P O U N D
      1. She combines elements, chemicals and other components to create medicine to heal any ailment.
  1. ENGINEERING
    1. Eli ~aka~ S T R U C T U R E
      1. He has the power to create machines and devices that help build and clean our environment. He works closely with Compound, Techno, Ink and Algorithm to make our world safer.
  1. TECHNOLOGY
    1. Tasha ~aka~ T E C H N O
      1. She has the power to create connections and communicate to people from anywhere in the world wherever she may be.
  1. ART
    1. Inigo ~aka~ I N K
      1. He has a beautiful singing voice and creates stories and paintings that entertain and give joy to people. He also creates awareness and empowers everyone to express themselves through art.
  1. MATH
    1. Amelia ~aka~ A L G O R I T H M
      1. She comes up with the right equations and absolute numbers that can solve any mathematical-related problem. She also aids, supports and enhances the powers of techno, compound, structure, and art to make the world a better place.

 

The IOScholarships Superheroes podcast debuts May 3rd, 2022 at 5:00 p.m. PT and can be found at https://ioscholarships.com/podcast. To receive the newsletter/blog please email info@ioscholarships.com.

The challenge of gender bias: experiences of women pursuing careers in STEM
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Clockwise from top left: Nayeli Stopani Barrios, Jessica Becker and Larissa Sanches (not shown: Elise Murphy)

By WiSE students Nayeli Stopani Barrios, Jessica Becker, Elise Murphy and Larissa Sanches, Nevada Today

Women pursuing STEM careers have faced many challenges in the past, and they continue to do so today. In the past, many of these challenges were built into the framework of our public and private institutions and our legal system. Women, for example, were not allowed to attend college and earn a college education until 1840, when Catherine Brewer was the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree. Gaining a graduate degree wasn’t possible until 1849, when Elizabeth Blackwell earned her medical degree (U.S. News, 2009). Without access to higher education, women had no chance of gaining enough experience and expertise to secure a job of any significance, let alone a career in STEM.

Barriers limiting women’s access to higher education were not eliminated in the mid 1800s with the brave actions of Brewer and Blackwell. The historical prejudices that denied women access to higher education in that century are present today in the minds of many who serve as members of college admissions committees and hiring authorities. According to a study conducted by researchers at Yale University, when provided with identical application materials across all applicants, both male and female faculty rated the male applicants more competent and more employable than female applicants (Moss-Racusin, Dovidio, Brescoll, Handelsman, 2012). Despite holding comparable levels of experience or knowledge, men are consistently chosen over women.

It is an unfortunate truth that gender bias can present challenges even in the circumstance of a woman being identified as the best candidate for a given position and the hiring process initiated. Across the full spectrum of hiring levels – from entry level to executive level – the salary or wage offered to women can reveal gender bias. According to the Stanford School of Business, the entry level salary for a male employee is on average more than $4,000 higher than their female coworkers (Stanford Business, 2021). Because women are less likely to be awarded promotions, the wage gap between women and their male coworkers becomes larger and larger over time. A paper published by the Pew Research Center concluded that, in STEM fields, men earn 40% more than women (Fry, Kennedy, & Funk, 2021). This significant gap in earnings between women and men in the STEM field leads to significant differences in the ability of women and men to pay off debts incurred as part of their undergraduate and graduate education and to establish a solid financial footing as they move through their peak earnings years and into retirement.

Barriers women face in the workplace go far beyond those associated with lower pay and reduced opportunities for career advancement. The impacts of gender bias and discrimination are even greater when a woman holds the identity of mother or primary caregiver for another family member. A study conducted at the University of California, San Diego revealed that “43% of women in STEM careers left their full-time job within 4-7 years of having their first child…compared to 23 percent of new fathers” (Cech & Blair-Loy, 2019). Women are often forced to choose between being an important contributor to the STEM field and being a mother, while men are allowed to be both without having their professional commitment or parenting abilities called in question. In fact, in a study conducted by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, one third of private sector employers reported that they believe that women who are pregnant or new mothers are “generally less interested in career progression” (Equality and Human Rights Commission, 2018). Women are often overlooked for promotions and, without prospects for growth within their company, many women pursue jobs at different companies, and sometimes within different employment sectors, that allow for professional growth.

Women who hold a non-white racial identity sometimes experience even more extreme forms of workplace bias and discrimination, including having to rise to higher hiring and workplace performance requirements than their white male and female coworkers, being paid lower salaries than their white male and female coworkers, having to assert their rightful status within the workplace more often than their white male and female coworkers, and experiencing less support from women co-workers than white women. Joan Williams, Katherine Phillips, and Erika Hall published a study that examined the prevalence of gender bias among women of color in the workplace (Williams, 2020). These researchers investigated prejudices in women’s daily work life by conducting in-depth interviews with women of color and administering an extensive battery of questionnaires to a diverse group of women working in STEM. Findings from their study and a thorough review of the literature revealed four unique types of bias that influence the ways women of color are regarded in the workplace (Ngo, 2016). One of the identified biases is the Prove It Again bias. This bias is considered to be in effect when men are hired and/or offered advancement opportunities based on their potential, while their women coworkers are hired and/or offered advancement opportunities based on ratings of their current performance and historical successes. Some experience of the Prove It Again bias is reported by nearly 65 % of women, with as many as 77% of Black women in STEM reporting experience with this particular form of gender bias (Williams, 2020).

The Maternal Wall bias arises out of the belief that women lose their ability and commitment to work after having children. Nearly two-thirds of scientists with children said that parental leave influenced their coworkers’ views of their commitment to the workplace (Williams, 2020). Interestingly, women scientists without children are impacted by their coworkers views of womanhood and parenting; they report being expected to work longer hours to compensate for work that is not being performed by coworkers who have taken maternity leave. Many everyday workplace experiences challenge women’s very presence as contributing STEM professionals. Among women holding professional STEM positions, 32% of white women and nearly 50% of women who identify as Black or as Latina report being mistaken for administrative or custodial staff. These biases have significant implications for the success of women of color and all women working in STEM settings.

Harassment in the workplace can take many different forms and can be targeted towards anyone holding any position within a given organization. That said, harassment often plays out in the context of power hierarchies; persons of higher professional rank and power are more able than persons of lower professional rank and power to use their professional power in ways that meet the definition of workplace harassment. (Wright, 2020). Sexual harassment appears to be a particular frequent form of workplace harassment. Holly Kearl, Nicole Johns, and Dr. Anita Raj authored a report of findings from a national study of sexual harassment and assault occurring in workplaces across the United States (Kearl, Johns, & Raj, 2019). According to their report, 38% of women and 14% of men have reported experiencing sexual harassment at work. Much of what can be considered “the STEM education and workspace” has been and continues to be male dominated. Although the gap is decreasing, women still make up only 28% of the STEM workforce (AAUW, 2021).

Click here to read the full article on Nevada Today.

A Latina creates a platform to provide scholarships for STEM students
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María Trochimezuk created the IOScholarships platform last year to provide access to scholarships and boost more Latino and other students in STEM careers.

By Edwin Flores

A Latina has created a platform to provide access to scholarships worth almost $38 million for Latinos and other students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

María Trochimezuk, 47, created IOScholarships after noticing the amount of scholarship money that went unrewarded due to the lack of applicants. The free platform gives STEM students in high school and college a place to find scholarships, internships, work opportunities, financial education and resources based upon GPA, merit and financial background.

The aim, said Trochimezuk, is to help students graduate college debt-free while boosting the number of Latinos and other students of color pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

“I always had a vision that I wanted to create a platform that would be a community,” said Trochimezuk who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s a first of its kind because we are focusing on underrepresented and underserved students, African American, Latinos, Asian American, Native American and also we have scholarships for DACA students.”

Trochimezuk said the platform, part of the National Scholarships Provider Association (NSPA), has helped provide access to nearly 11,000 students about a diverse range of STEM scholarships that are available from foundations and corporations.

She founded the platform last March, first investing her personal savings and then securing funding for the project through a grant provided by Google’s Ureeka PowerUp program, which supports Latino-owned businesses.

In 2000, Trochimezuk moved to the U.S. on a postgraduate scholarship in marketing and public relations at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and later was selected to be a part of Stanford’s prestigious Latino entrepreneurship initiative.

She worked on public education campaigns for Google and other financial institutions that focused on Latino community support.

Through her experiences, she witnessed how much scholarship money was undistributed because students were not applying. Yet Trochimezuk said she was able to pay off her entire education with grants and scholarships.

Over the last decade, the number of scholarships awarded to students has increased by 45 percent. Yet, the NSPA estimates $100 million in scholarships go unawarded each year due to the lack of applicants.

“We opened opportunities for students with scholarships that now are going to Stanford or MIT — these are brilliant, diverse students, they’re Latino, Black students. And it’s very important that companies pay attention to this workforce because these are the innovators of the future,” she said.

Despite making up 17 percent of the total workforce across all occupations, Latinos account for 8 percent of all STEM-related jobs.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

New spinal cord stimulation study puts people with paralysis on their feet again
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a man who could have a spinal cord injury is sitting in front the camera

Michel Roccati lost the ability to walk after a motorcycle accident in 2017, when he had a complete spinal cord injury. But today, equipped with an electrode device implanted on his spinal cord, Roccati can enjoy the simple things again: standing at a bar for drinks with friends, taking a shower without a chair and even strolling through the town with a walker.

“I am free,” said Roccati, who is from Italy. “I can walk wherever I want to.”
Roccati was one of three men between the ages of 29 and 41 to participate in the STIMO clinical trial, led by Dr. Jocelyne Bloch from Lausanne University Hospital and Grégoire Courtine of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The results of the study were published Monday in the journal Nature Medicine.
The participants had 16-electrode devices implanted in the epidural space, an area between the vertebrae and the spinal cord membrane. The electrodes receive currents from a pacemaker implanted under the skin of the abdomen.

All the patients in the trial had a complete loss of voluntary movement below their injuries. Two also had a complete loss of sensation. But with the devices in place, the researchers could use a tablet computer to initiate unique sequences of electrical pulses, sent to the epidural electrodes via the pacemaker, to activate the participants’ muscles.

Other studies have anecdotally seen movement soon after surgery to implant similar devices, but this is the first study to report that all participants independently could take steps on a treadmill just a day after surgery, the researchers say.

“It’s a very emotional moment, because [patients] realize they can step,” Bloch said.

Researchers have been looking into electrical stimulation to the spinal cord for three decades. This study redesigned technology originally used to alleviate pain to target spinal nerve roots.

Previous studies out of the University of Louisville have shown that people who were completely paralyzed but still had sensation could walk again with several months of rehabilitation through electrical stimulation to the spinal cord. The STIMO trial found that within a week of their surgeries, all three participants could walk independently with the use of body-weight support from parallel bars and an overhead harness.

“For the first time, we have not only immediate effect — though training is still important — but also individuals with no sensation, no movement whatsoever, have been able to regain full standing and walking independently of the laboratory,” Courtine told CNN.

Dr. Nandan Lad, a neurosurgeon at Duke University, said this “very exciting work gives a new treatment option for tens of thousands of patients that have spinal cord injury and don’t really have other options.” Lad is leading a clinical trial in this area of research in the US and was not involved in the new study.
The Swiss team has been able to observe immediate results through important changes in the structure and implantation of their electrode device. The electrode array used in the STIMO trial, made by Onward Medical, is wider and longer than the array most commonly used in similar studies. According to Bloch, this new electrode array allows access to a broader area of the spinal cord to stimulate both trunk and leg muscles.

The investigators developed an algorithm to optimally place the electrode array, running tests during the surgery to measure muscle activity after delivering pulses. The precise neurosurgical placement of the electrodes is key to the study’s ability to stimulate the necessary muscle groups in the legs so quickly, Lad said.

The STIMO trial also introduces a new method for initiating and sustaining movement. To begin stimulation, previous studies have relied on participants’ intent to move and the brain signals that follow. In the new study, a timed sequence of stimulations is generated using motor responses to different jolts of electricity. These pre-established sequences trigger movement and attempt to mimic the natural pattern of muscle activation needed to walk.

Susan Harkema, a professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery who led the Louisville studies, said it’s encouraging to know that two types of stimulation can generate movement patterns through human spinal circuitry, indicating that some function is retained, even with complete injuries.
“But I don’t think we have enough evidence yet to know the best way to stimulate for the best outcomes,” Harkema told CNN.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

This is the space graveyard where the International Space Station will be buried
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Image of the international space station hovering over the Earth's atmosphere. The ISS will be moved to the Space Graveyard in the year 2030.

By Katie Hunt, CNN

Three thousand miles off the coast of New Zealand and 2,000 miles north of Antarctica, Point Nemo is so far from land that the closest humans are often the astronauts on board the International Space Station — that orbits 227 nautical miles above Earth. It’s precisely this remoteness that explains why the ISS, once it’s retired in 2030, will end its days here, plummeting to Earth to join other decommissioned space stations, satellites and space debris. This is the world’s space graveyard.
Spacefaring nations have been dumping their junk in the area around Point Nemo, named after Captain Nemo from Jules Verne’s novel “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea,” since the 1970s.

Also known as the Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility or South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area, the exact coordinates of the world’s most remote spot were calculated by Canadian-Russian engineer Hrvoje Lukatela in 1992.

More than 263 pieces of space debris have been sunk in this area since 1971, including Russia’s Mir space station and NASA’s first space station Skylab, according to a 2019 study. They’re not intact monuments to the history of space travel but are likely fragmented debris scattered over a large area.

“This is the largest ocean area without any islands. It is just the safest area where the long fall-out zone of debris after a re-entry fits into,” said Holger Krag, Head of the Space Safety Programme Office at the European Space Agency.

Point Nemo is beyond any state’s jurisdiction and is devoid of any human life — although it’s not free from the traces of human impact. In addition to the space junk on the seafloor, microplastic particles were discovered in the waters when yachts in the Volvo Ocean Race passed through the region in 2018.
Best practice

Space junk such as old satellites reenter the Earth’s atmosphere on a daily basis, although most of it goes unnoticed because it burns up long before it can hit the ground.
It’s only larger space debris — such as spacecraft and rocket parts — that pose a very small risk to humans and infrastructure on the ground. Space agencies and operators must plan well in advance to ensure that it falls to Earth in this far-flung bit of ocean.

In the case of the International Space Station, NASA said the ISS will begin maneuvers to prepare for deorbit as early as 2026, lowering the altitude of the space lab, with it expected to crash back to Earth in 2031. The exact timings of the maneuvers depends on the solar cycle activity and its effect on Earth’s atmosphere.

“Higher solar activity tends to expand the Earth’s atmosphere and increase resistance to the ISS’ velocity, resulting in more drag and natural altitude loss,” NASA said in a newly published document outlining plans for decommissioning the ISS.

Space agencies and commercial operators must also notify authorities in control of flights and shipping — usually in Chile, New Zealand and Tahiti — of the location, timing and dimensions of the debris fall-out zones. Around two flights per day pass through the air space, said Krag. These authorities produce standardized message sent out to air and sea traffic.

A bigger problem than the spacecraft that end up in Point Nemo, said Krag, is chunks of metal rocket stages and spacecraft making what’s known as an “uncontrolled reentry” into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Click here to read the full article on CNN.

First Latina to go to space announces bilingual STEAM board book series
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Dr Ellen ochoa smiling and posing in front of a gray background for the camera. She is wearing a blue button up. Ochoa is writing a STEAM board book series

By The Downey Patriot

Lil’ Libros Publishing has acquired world rights to a bilingual five-board book STEAM series, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World, researched and written by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, American engineer who became the first Latina woman to go to space.

Inspired by her experiences as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Ochoa’s books will celebrate the joy of scientific curiosity, the fundamentals of STEAM topics, and the American Latino experience for the youngest of readers.

“I wish I had known when I was little that science [or STEAM] is all about curiosity and creativity,” said Dr. Ochoa. “Those skills come naturally to young kids, and I hope this series engages kids and parents alike, in both English and Spanish, about STEAM concepts and excites them about exploring the world they inhabit.”

“We are excited to work alongside Dr. Ochoa to help create an environment where our littlest readers are introduced to STEAM concepts confidently and in two languages,” said Patty Rodriguez, publisher at Lil’ Libros. “Becoming a scientist is no longer just a dream for our children, it is a possibility and Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an example of that.”

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Ellen Ochoa to the Lil’ Libros family. Bringing bilingual STEAM topics to children will open a world of possibilities,” added Ariana Stein, Lil’ Libros co-founder. “We are confident that Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World will inspire curiosity and leave a lasting impact on children.”

Publication for the first book, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World: We Are All Scientists, is set for August 30, 2022.

Lil’ Libros is a bilingual children’s book publisher based out of Los Angeles. In a world lacking bilingual books for children, two best friends-turned-mothers – Patty Rodriguez, of Downey, and Ariana Stein – began their mission to celebrate the duality of the American Latino experience through picture board books and now hardcovers.

Click here to read the full article on The Downey Patriot.

Letter From the Editor — The Power of Act II
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Leland Melvin Cover

By Tawanah Reeves-Ligon

The beauty of the STEAM fields is that they represent industries where growth and change are constant. STEAM is all about repurposing and redefining both ourselves and the world around us for a better tomorrow.

Oftentimes, the best part of the story comes in the second act.

For American engineer and STEAM advocate Leland D. Melvin, this couldn’t be truer. Melvin was a star on his high school and collegiate football teams before beating the odds to join the NFL as a member of both the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.

However, he would beat the odds again after a career-ending injury would catapult him into his Act II as an astronaut and Associate Administrator for Education for NASA.

Now, he’s an advocate for diversity and inclusion in the STEAM fields. “The biggest part of succeeding in a NASA culture is to be a team member,” he said. “Just like sports and mathematics. That’s why diversity is so important.”

Learn more about Leland Melvin’s story on page 26.

If you’re thinking about your own second act, check out which careers are in high demand this year on page 38.

Tawanah Reeves-Ligon
Tawanah Reeves-Ligon, Editor Diversity in STEAM Magazine

Trying to grow or save your small business post-pandemic? Learn the five business strategies that can help you overcome COVID-19 on page 66.

If the next part of your story is getting more education, find the best STEAM scholarships on page 80.

Finally, check out how researchers are planning to combat climate change by giving critically endangered and extinct animals (like the Woolly Mammoth!) a second chance in the wild on page 16.

It’s rare to get things perfectly right the first time around. At Diversity in STEAM, we encourage you to continue pressing forward, so that your next act is always your best act.

A dinosaur embryo has been found inside a fossilized egg. Here’s what that means.
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dinosaur embryo Reconstruction of a close-to-hatching oviraptorosaur egg.

BY Caitlin O’Kane, CBS News

A well-preserved dinosaur embryo has been found inside a fossilized egg. The fossilized dinosaur embryo came from Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province in southern China and was acquired by researchers in 2000.

Researchers at Yingliang Group, a company that mines stones, suspected it contained egg fossils, but put it in storage for 10 years, according to a news release. When construction began on Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum, boxes of unearthed fossils were sorted through.

“Museum staff identified them as dinosaur eggs and saw some bones on the broken cross section of one of the eggs,” Lida Xing of China University of Geosciences, Beijing, said in a news release. A embryo was found hidden within, which they named “Baby Yingliang.”

The embryo is that of the bird-like oviraptorosaurs, part of the theropod group. Theropod means “beast foot,” but theropod feet usually resembled those of birds. Birds are descended from one lineage of small theropods.

In studying the embryo, researchers found the dinosaur took on a distinctive tucking posture before hatching, which had been considered unique to birds. The study is published in the iScience journal.

Researchers say this behavior may have evolved through non-avian theropods. “Most known non-avian dinosaur embryos are incomplete with skeletons disarticulated,” said Waisum Maof the University of Birmingham, U.K. “We were surprised to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture had not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before.”

While fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found during the last 100 years, discovering a well-preserved embryo is very rare, the researchers said in the release.

The embryo’s posture was not previously seen in non-avian dinosaur, which is “especially notable because it’s reminiscent of a late-stage modern bird embryo.”

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. NABA 2022 National Convention & Expo
    June 21, 2022 - June 24, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022