Felix Zhang ‘only student on the globe to ever ace the AP Calculus exam

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Penn Junior Felix Zhang being interviewed by reporters. (Credit: Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation)

An Indiana teenager, Felix Zhang, has achieved something no other student in the world achieved this spring: a perfect score on the Advanced Placement Calculus AB exam. The story will amaze you.

The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation said that the College Board, which administers the AP exams, told the school’s principal that Felix Zhang achieved a perfect “5” rating and was the only student in the world to earn every possible point on the AP Calculus AB exam. In other words, he achieved a 108 out of 108.

“I felt pretty confident knowing that I knew what to do on the test, but there was always a chance I would make a small error or something,” he said. “So I wasn’t really expecting to see a perfect score. And that was pretty surprising to me because I felt like, there’s a lot of other people out there who probably perform very well on this test, and I’m pretty surprised that no one else got a perfect score.”

Felix Zhang is currently studying AP Calculus CB.

Read the Full Article on Fox11

How Mentorship Levels The Playing Field For Bloomberg’s Black Technologists
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Mentorship is a vital component of inclusion strategies, especially when trying to attract and retain diverse talent.

One study found that women and people from underrepresented groups are more likely to say that mentoring was an important aspect of their career progression. But, for it to be successful in helping with career advancement, research indicates that mentorship must be more than simply instructional; a mentor must play the dual role of coach and counselor. And, even though there are obvious benefits for the mentee, there may also be benefits for the mentor.

Companies must understand how to effectively establish mentorship programs when trying to recruit and retain talent. It is also important for employees from underrepresented backgrounds to understand how to effectively and strategically seek out and engage with their mentors.

Numerous mentorship programs have been implemented across Bloomberg to help accelerate the growth potential of high-performing employees from different backgrounds. This includes targeted mentorship programs that pair Black employees with managers for career development opportunities.

One of these efforts, the Bloomberg Black in Tech Mentorship Program, was launched for the first time early last in 2021, with 15 pairs of mentors/mentees. The goals of this tailored mentorship program were to provide members of the Bloomberg Black in Tech (BBIT) group from around the globe with the opportunity to broaden their networks, increase their visibility, retain and engage talent, foster career development (for both mentors and mentees), and continue creating an inclusive and diverse culture within Engineering.

We spoke to two mentor/mentees pairs to learn how the BBIT Mentorship Program helped them grow professionally: Akin Mousse (pictured) (San Francisco) and Akshit Kumar (New York), and Meshach Jones (New York) and Peter Baxter (London).

Tell us about your role & how long you’ve been at Bloomberg.

Akin: I joined Bloomberg in London almost nine years ago as part of the Desktop Build Group (DBG). I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco in 2015 and transitioned into a software engineer role two years ago by joining the BQuant Financial Libraries (FinLibs) team. My main focus is to create user-facing APIs that our clients can use with the BQuant platform to help facilitate their investment decisions.

Akshit: Bloomberg was my first job after school, and I have been working here for more than 18 years. In my current role as Engineering Manager for Currency & Commodities Trading Applications (FXGO & CMET), I get to not only work and learn from my team members, but also to collaborate with the wider Engineering organization and our Product & Sales counterparts.

Meshach: I joined Bloomberg around four and a half years ago, straight from university. Since joining the company, I’ve worked on several teams in AIM’s compliance area. I’ve focused on a range of projects from search improvement to re-designing how we generate our market value calculations.

Peter: I’m in a leadership role in Markets, Community & AI (MCA), responsible for Worksheets and Dynamic List. I’ve been at Bloomberg for 15 years and have spent time in a number of different roles, mainly in MCA, where I’ve been a TL for three teams.

Why were you interested in volunteering to participate in this mentorship program?

Akin: I decided to join BBIT after transferring from the Desktop Build Group to the BQuant Engineering team. My main goal was to find people who looked like me and were part of the Engineering department. I was looking for a community I could leverage while making this transition. When BBIT offered a mentorship program in early 2021, I quickly volunteered to take part as a mentee, as I saw it as a career and personal growth opportunity.

Akshit: For me, there were two specific reasons I decided to take part as a mentor.

First, through every stage of my career, various people had unofficially mentored me. They not only honed my analytical and decision-making skills, but also opened their networks to me. Having spent the time I have at Bloomberg, I felt that it was time to do my best to pass on the lessons I had learned about leadership.

Second, and just as important, I expected it to be a great learning experience for me. In the past, I have mentored individuals who were up for a career progression. However, I felt that the BBIT Mentorship Program would help me learn how to be a better mentor and more inclusive leader, as I would be getting the opportunity to learn with Akin, who is at a different point in his career.

Meshach: I was interested in joining the BBIT Mentorship Program, as it would allow me to advance my career progression. Having a mentor who was allied with a group I was deeply ingrained with provided me with a base level of comfort. This was a critical element since both parties have to be trusting and willing to be vulnerable with one another for mentorship to work successfully. I also wanted to participate in the program to help grow connections from BBIT to the wider Bloomberg organization.

Peter: Mentoring is a large part of leadership, and it’s one of the main reasons why I enjoy being a leader. I really like discussing the different challenges that people face and the different ways we can solve problems. I particularly enjoy talking about leadership and how to build a team. Mentoring new people with different backgrounds from other areas of the company also gives me exposure to the variety of different challenges that people face. Learning about the experience of others will hopefully make me a better leader.

As a mentor, what did you learn from your relationship with your mentee that surprised you?

Akshit: Quite a lot. Akin and I were quickly able to establish trust between us. In our first session, we shared our personal life journeys and were surprised how many things we had in common.

We then started our journey in a truly agile fashion. Every time we met, we spent time reviewing the key impressions Akin had taken from our prior discussion. As you can imagine, this was eye-opening. I could clearly see examples of where innocuous confirmation bias may have seeped into my viewpoint about some topics. It truly became a two-way learning experience.

Peter: I’ve been here a long time, so it takes a lot to surprise me! It was interesting to learn about the leadership structure in Meshach’s area, and the particular challenges he has faced with regards to career development. We also spent time discussing how he could be more proactive in conversations about his career. One thing I’ve learnt from working with lots of people is that, even though everyone’s career journey is unique, there are definitely a lot of experiences worth sharing

As a mentee, have you seen a positive impact on your career since joining the program?

Akin: My relationship with Akshit has not only had a positive impact on my career, but also my personal life. In our recurring conversations, Akshit helped me to see things differently. Our discussions helped me grow and be more proactive about establishing, tracking, and assessing my career and life goals. Even though the mentorship program has ended, Akshit and I still meet regularly. Having an ongoing opportunity to talk with him, exchange ideas, and get advice is something that I truly value and appreciate.

Meshach: Since having Peter as a mentor, I have seen a greatly positive impact on my career. I’ve defined what I want for my career in the near term and have started taking tangible steps towards those goals. While it’s impossible to say what my progression would have been without this mentorship, I know that Peter’s mentorship has been critical to helping ensure I’m actively monitoring and guiding my career.

What has been the greatest highlight of your mentor/mentee relationship?

Akin: Early on in our conversations, Akshit encouraged me to expand my thought process or my vision on things. He encouraged me to not limit myself to technical and finance focus reads, but to have a more diverse collection of books, like the autobiography of Frederick Douglass or “Atomic Habits”. I now realize how our conversations influenced me to constantly try to improve myself.

Akshit: The greatest highlight for me is the relationship I have been able to build with Akin and the things I have learned through this relationship. It has pushed me to get more involved in similar programs throughout the firm. Akin and I were able to create a valuable two-way dialogue. His feedback on topics such as personal leadership and initiative made me appreciate how different individuals face unique hurdles during their professional journeys. It actually changed me and I now push to get personal feedback on a regular basis from team members in different roles within my organization. Their insights help me learn more about how we can take action to create a much more inclusive culture.

Meshach: The highlight of my mentorship experience with Peter was defining what my goals were and why. Before sitting down with my mentor I had loose goals for my career progression and was selling my ambitions short due to what I believed was the need to wait for the proper timing. In addition to timing, I also had thoughts about particular actions that should be taken, but didn’t really think deeply about how they played into what I wanted for my career. Peter helped break this thought pattern and helped me better solidify what I wanted to do and the actions I should take to get there.

Click here to read the full article on Bloomberg.

Top Tips for Making the Most of Your MBA
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By Amelia Hopkins

An MBA is a huge investment, and for what it’s costing you, you want to get as much as possible out of the course.
You might think that, having studied at undergraduate level, you already have a good idea about how to make the most of higher education. But, studying for an MBA is entirely different and requires a different set of skills and preparation.

Here are our top MBA tips for choosing the right business school and making the most of your time when you get there:

Getting the most out of your MBA experience

Applying to business school is a very time-consuming process. MBA candidates have to research numerous MBA programs, cram for the GMAT, write multiple admissions assays and prepare b-school interviews.

With so much to do in the admissions process, it’s easy to forget that it’s only just the beginning of your MBA journey. To make sure you get the most out of your MBA experience, here are a few tips:

  • Come up with your financial plan
  • Focus on the full MBA experience
  • Network anywhere and everywhere
  • Be proactive during your MBA program
  • Evolve your career goals as you go
  • Apply for as many summer internships as possible
  • Don’t get intimidated

But before you land a spot on the MBA program of your dreams, there are a few things you can do beforehand…

Visit business schools 

The best way to understand the culture of an institution is to visit it. By looking around the campus, speaking to current students and faculty and seeing the facilities in person, you’ll be able to assess if the school fits with your personality and goals.

If you live too far away to visit, a virtual tour, coupled with thorough research, will give you a fair indication as to whether the school is a good match for you.

Speak to MBA alumni

No one knows an MBA course better than alumni, so try to speak to several ex-students about their experiences. Given the way we all feel about our alma maters, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who’s not willing to share their experiences. Try to pick those whose interests match your own, to provide you with an accurate vision of what could be in store for you.

 

Research yourself online

Before applying, look at your public profiles — how are you representing yourself? Either make all your social media profiles private or clean them up so that you’re presenting yourself in a mature and professional way.

Find your way around campus

There’s nothing worse than getting lost on your first day, so avoid that fate by looking around your institution before your classes begin. Take your timetable and walk to every class beforehand, so you’ll be able to find your way there easily when you need to. Most institutions offer tours of the various departments and facilities, so take advantage of these too.

Start growing your network

A big part of an MBA course is the non-academic side of things. Networking and making contacts are a major reason for attending business school, so make the most of the opportunity. Introduce yourself to everyone you can, and spend time getting to know your classmates and professors. Particularly seek out those with different backgrounds to your own. This is one of the best chances you will have in your life to meet such a diverse range of people.

Join clubs

Extra-curricular activities are not only an enjoyable way to meet people and break up your school-work schedule, they also help to impress potential employers. Most clubs will have a ‘try it’ session, so attend all the ones you’re interested in and pick a number to actively participate in. If you can, secure a leadership position in a society, as this looks fantastic in future job applications.

Think about your career

It’s easy to get swept away by the MBA experience, but remember what you’re there for: to advance your career. Make time to research your course options early on and ensure they will help in the pursuit of your goals. Speak to the careers department often and attend recruitment events to meet with potential employers.

The internship portion of your course is also very important for career progression, so prepare for it thoroughly and select a company you’d be happy working for — they might just offer you a job once your MBA is complete.

Practice your interview skills

Informational interviews offer you the chance to get a feel for the kind of interviews that you will be dealing with after graduation. They also provide the opportunity to explore different companies and introduce yourself to recruitment staff. Many MBA courses include classes which include informational interviews.

Make sure you’re organized

An MBA course requires a significant amount of juggling tasks, events and classes, so organization skills are essential. Before beginning the course, familiarize yourself with the tools you’ll use to organize your study, including study apps, planners and calendars. Once your course has started, make a timetable to plan out your time and stick to it — procrastination is your worst enemy. No period of your life will depend on your organizational and management skills more than studying for an MBA.

Engage, but don’t force your opinion

Contributing in class is essential, but that doesn’t mean you should railroad the group. If you have something to add to the discussion, do so and if you disagree with something, make that known, but don’t attempt to dominate the discussion. You’ll learn more by listening than you will by speaking, and you’ll make more friends that way too.

Find a way to relax

MBA courses are stressful, so offset this by finding a healthy way to relax. For some, it might be jogging, for others painting or reading. When you’ve found what works for you, set aside time each week to do it. Your anxiety levels will thank you.

Source: TopMBA

To the Metaverse and Beyond: Access to STEAM Crosses the Digital Divide
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Man wearing VR glasses virtual Global Internet connection metaverse with a new experience in metaverse virtual world. Metaverse technology concept Innovation of futuristic

By Diane McClelland, Dr. Angelina Dayton, Dr. Tom Furness III, Deborah Todd

The metaverse is opening doors for more and more people to work and play in virtual worlds. And within this parallel digital universe, we’re already starting to see virtual reality mirror actual reality in more ways than one—most notably with a lack of equality.

We know that with the exploration of an exciting new world comes great responsibility. And in that truth lies the possibility of creating a more accessible and equitable existence. So how can we leave the inequities of the real world out of the virtual world? The answer, in part, is by getting more girls and women into STEAM to help us bridge the digital divide.

The good news is that colleges and universities are beginning to make a very deliberate, concerted effort to recruit more young women for computer science majors. This can’t come soon enough. In 2021, young women graduating from college earned 18 percent of the nation’s computer science degrees, down from 37 percent in 1984. Current trends show the role of women in tech has declined over the last 35 years, and many women drop out of tech by the age of 35.

But interest in STEM careers seems to be rising. According to Zippia Research, in 2017, 74 percent of girls expressed a desire for a STEM career. That year, women held 49.7 percent of STEM-related bachelor’s degrees, but this didn’t necessarily translate into a tech career, as compared to men.

Career opportunities in STEM and STEAM have to come from more than interest and aptitude. They also have to come from equal access. Inequality is often fueled by policies created by governments, institutions, and corporations that raise roadblocks and barriers to access. These barriers are often based on gender, race, unconscious bias, and even zip codes. The subsequent policies suppress innovation and, as many corporations are discovering, stifle financial bottom lines.

Forbes 500 companies — with a purchasing power of five trillion USD — discovered in 2020 that placing women in leadership roles resulted in a 66 percent increase in ROI. Another report, in 2017, showed that organizations with at least eight out of 20 female managers gained 34 percent of their revenues from innovative products and services.

Young women are paying attention to women-run organizations. Recruiting for the next generation of college students, colleges and universities report that 27 percent of young women said they would consider going to work for companies with positive role models and an inclusive work environment.

The substantial contributions to innovation and profits underscore the importance of having more women at the leadership table, and serving as role models and mentors for younger women. We also need to acknowledge that other voices are missing from the conversation. Equity and inclusion, by definition, are for everyone. We have to take very real, necessary steps to include everyone at the table.

Access to these conversations in the physical world will, of course, determine who has access to them in the metaverse. Likewise, access to the metaverse will determine who can work with 21st century tools in yet-to-be designed digital worlds. Inequality as status quo isn’t sustainable—in society or business. If we don’t address inequalities in the physical world, they will be duplicated and magnified in the virtual world.

There are many under-utilized yet valuable solutions to our world’s challenges that women and other groups provide. One such group is the Girls STEAM Institute™, which is simultaneously addressing real- and virtual-world inequity through a business challenge competition for young girls ages 13-18.

Using project-based learning, the challenge tasks small teams of girls to develop business solutions addressing a global issue, in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Over the course of two days, the girls create a plan for a digital application, assign executive roles, develop a company, create a business plan complete with SWOT analysis, and put together a presentation. At the end of the second day, the teams pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for feedback on the commercial viability of their projects.

The teams work in digital 2-D and 3-D realms, including VR. Participants report a higher level of self-confidence, and the value of their voice as part of a team—inside and outside of the virtual world. Many of the girls pursue college degrees in STEAM, moving into exciting new careers in emerging fields.

At the beginning of a new digital era, these girls are pioneering the way for others to join in the conversation. They’re becoming role models for older generations—on the value of access and equity in the metaverse.

Our communities are more successful with access, and with all of the brainpower, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking skills working for the greater good. We need the irreplaceable contributions of all peoples to bridge the digital divide to ensure a stronger, richer society.

Credits: Diane McClelland, Co-Founder, Girls STEAM Institute™ Deborah Todd,

Dr. Tom Furness III, co-founder of Virtual World Society, Dr. Angelina Dayton

National Scholarship Providers Association Introduces the NSPA Exchange During National Scholarship Month
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graduate students in caps and gowns smiling

National Scholarship Month, sponsored by the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA), is a national campaign designed to raise awareness of the vital role scholarships play in reducing student loan debt and expanding access to higher education.

To celebrate, the National Scholarship Providers Association (NSPA) has announced the launch of the NSPA Exchangethe first and only scholarship metric database.

Thanks to a partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the NSPA Exchange was created to serve as a central access point for scholarship provider data. Currently, the database is home to metrics from over 1,300 organizations, allowing members to search details about peer providers by location, compare scholarship award amounts, eligibility criteria, program staff size, and more. All information is kept in a secure, cloud-based, centralized database maintained through a custom administration system.

“Our goal for the NSPA Exchange is to ultimately define best practices and industry standards for scholarship providers.” says Nicolette del Muro, Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at NSPA.

“With this database, members now have the data they need to make strategic decisions. For example, of the over 15,000 scholarships in the Exchange database, the average application is open for 90 days. And 75% of these scholarships open in the months of November, December, and January. This offers applicants a relatively short window of time to apply for all scholarships. Insight like this could help a provider determine to open their application outside of the busy season or encourage them to make their scholarship criteria and requirements available online in advance of the application open date.”

“The NSPA Exchange is a great resource for IOScholarships as the information is constantly updated and enables members to review and update their own organization’s scholarship data”, said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships and Individual Affiliate Member at NSPA. “IOScholarships also uses scholarships from the Exchange in our own Scholarship Search, and we trust these scholarships are safe for students, vetted, and current offerings.

To learn more about this exciting new NSPA initiative click here –  Launching a New Member Service: The NSPA Exchange or visit www.scholarshipproviders.org. For more details on how to sponsor the NSPA Exchange, contact Nicolette del Muro Senior Director, Membership and Strategic Initiatives at ndelmuro@scholarshipproviders.org.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIP PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (NSPA)

The mission of the National Scholarship Providers Association is to advance the collective impact of scholarship providers and the scholarships they award. Currently serving over 2,000 individuals, they are dedicated to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profit, foundations and businesses. Membership in the NSPA provides access to networking opportunities, professional development, and scholarship program resources.

ABOUT IOSCHOLARSHIPS

By conducting a free scholarship search at IOScholarships.com, STEM minority and underrepresented students gain access to a database of thousands of STEM scholarships worth over $48 million. We then narrow this vast array of financial aid opportunities down to a manageable list of scholarships for which students actually qualify, based on the information they provide in their IOScholarships.com profile. They can then review their search results, mark their favorites, and sort their list by deadline, dollar amount and other criteria. We also offer a scholarship organizer which is completely free to use, just like our scholarship search. There are scholarships out there for diverse students in STEM. So take advantage of National Scholarship Month and search for available scholarships today!

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com

Raising Our Voices for Diversity in the Geosciences
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A geologist working underground

By Lucila Houttuijn Bloemendaal, Katarena Matos, Kendra Walters, and Aditi Sengupta

Almost 50 years ago, in June 1972, attendees at the First National Conference on Minority Participation in Earth Sciences and Mineral Engineering [Gillette and Gillette, 1972] held one of the first formal discussions on the lack of diversity in the geosciences.

Unfortunately, despite the many conversations since then addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the geosciences still face many of the problems cited in that meeting. These problems include, for example, difficulty recruiting youth from marginalized groups into a field that is often hostile to them and scientists from underrepresented backgrounds routinely needing to go above and beyond their peers to prove their professional value and right to belong.

Clearly, drafting statements in support of diversity—as many institutions have done—is not enough to effect change in the geosciences. Individuals and institutions must engage deeply and with a long-term mindset to ensure sustainable efforts that translate to real, personal success for geoscientists from a diversity of backgrounds. In addition, the community must continue to create spaces for conversations that highlight and share best practices focused on improving DEI.

As members of AGU’s Voices for Science 2019 cohort, we learned several effective methods of science communication. For example, we learned that by sharing lessons learned and blueprints for action with broader audiences, we can more effectively use our voices and power to demand real, tangible goals to make the geosciences inclusive and accessible. From among the 2019 cohort, a small team of scientists from a variety of fields and career stages thus convened a town hall at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019 to discuss improving DEI. At the town hall, titled “Power of Science Lies in Its Diverse Voices,” panelists highlighted their approaches and work to increase diversity in the geosciences for an audience of roughly 100 attendees.

To make the town hall an example of a diverse event, invited panelists represented a wide array of fields, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, and career paths and stages. Below, we highlight the advice and work of the panelists, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Sujata Emani, Heather Handley, Tamara Marcus, Bahareh Sorouri, and Robert Ulrich, to provide avenues for readers to promote diversity, incentivize DEI work, and enact change in their own fields, institutions, and lives.

Continue on to EOS: Science News by AGU to read the full article.

We Must Include More Women in Physics – It Would Help the Whole of Humanity
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By , The Wire

All around the world, there is an extreme gender imbalance in physics, in both academia and industry.

Examples are all too easy to find. In Burkina Faso’s largest university, the University of Ouagadougou, 99% of physics students are men. In Germany, women comprise only 24% of physics PhD graduates – creeping up from 21% in 2017. No women graduated in physical sciences at the University of El Salvador between 2017 and 2020.

Australia fares little better. Australian National University Professor Lisa Kewley forecasts that on current settings, it will take 60 years for women to comprise just a third of professional astronomers.

And the hits keep coming. A survey by the UK Royal Astronomical Society, published last week, found women and non-binary people in the field are 50% more likely than men to be bullied and harassed, and that 50% of LGBQ astronomers have suffered bullying in the past 12 months.

There are occasional glimmers in the gloom. In India, for instance, women now comprise 43% of those with a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). But that figure is much lower in physics and in the higher echelons of academia.

Clearly, this gender imbalance urgently needs to be fixed. This is not simply a matter of principle: around the world, many of our best and brightest minds are excluded, to everyone’s detriment.

This month, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) held its seventh conference focused on the roles and prospects of women in the discipline. Held online, but hubbed in Melbourne, the five-day event was attended by more than 300 scientists from more than 50 countries.

We met many women who showed strength, leadership and commitment to progress physics in their countries, sometimes under very difficult circumstances. As the conference progressed, some distinct targets for action emerged.

Dissolving barriers

One priority is the need to overcome the barriers that prompt many women to leave physics before reaching its most senior levels. This happens for many reasons, including uncertainty in gaining long-term employment and the associated doubts about ever achieving senior positions, but research shows the effect is felt disproportionately by women.

Kewley’s analysis found that in Australian astronomy, 62% of women, compared with 17% of men, leave between postdoc and assistant professor level. A further 48% of women (and 28% of men) leave before the associate professor level.

Similar results are found in the UK, where the Royal Astronomical Society reported that women make up 29% of astronomy lecturers but only 12% of astronomy professors.

Collaborating with industry

Mentoring women to become entrepreneurs and commercial leaders is a key strategy for underpinning independence, well-being and social standing for women physicists.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t common in many developing countries, particularly not among women physicists, where social and economic conditions impede innovation and collaboration with industry,” Associate Professor Rayda Gammag, from Mapúa University in the Philippines, told the conference.

Another participant, Professor Mmantsae Moche Diale, a senior physicist at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, reflected that many people don’t know how to translate their research ideas into business.

“It is important that you get guidance on how to navigate challenging situations to translate your research into a product you can sell,” she said.

Helping women physicists in developing countries

In some countries, social, cultural, economic and religious norms mean there is little support for women physicists. This can be deep-rooted, with discrimination at the earliest levels of education. University-educated women often find themselves blocked from research funding or leadership positions.

IUPAP has an important role to play here, through connecting women physicists in developing countries with their global colleagues, developing codes of conduct to combat discrimination and aggression, and reaching out through our regional chapters.

“Some countries have so few women that they’d benefit from joining a network with others in a similar situation,” Adjunct Professor Igle Gledhill from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa told the conference.

Showing the way

Despite the deeply ingrained challenges, there are some signs of progress. Two standout nations are Iran and India.

In Iran, women make up 55% of physics PhD candidates and high-school science teachers, Azam Iraji zad of the Physics Society of Iran told the conference. It was also revealed that the proportion of women in STEM education in India is larger than in the UK, the United States or France.

Nevertheless, the conference heard stark evidence that action to remove gender barriers in physics around the world will often be met not just with resistance but sometimes violence.

One of us (Prajval Shastri) led a workshop that delivered powerful and practical recommendations on how to ensure no one is left behind. Physicists have multiple identities beyond gender, such as race, class, caste and abled-ness, creating a complex pattern of disadvantage and privilege.

Ultimately, the physics enterprise should learn from the gender gap but go beyond it and aim to centre itself on the interests of its most vulnerable members. That way, it will emerge as a better and more inclusive profession for everybody.

This needs to happen everywhere from the classroom to the lab, to conferences, industry networking and public science communication. Boys and girls alike deserve to see more role models from all marginalised groups doing physics.

Click here to read the full article on Forbes.

This is how the human heart adapts to space
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Two men are standing looking at each other in front of what appears to be a map.

By Ashley Strickland

When astronaut Scott Kelly spent nearly a year in space, his heart shrank despite the fact that he worked out six days a week over his 340-day stay, according to a new study.

Surprisingly, researchers observed the same change in Benoît Lecomte after he completed his 159-day swim across the Pacific Ocean in 2018.
The findings suggest that long-term weightlessness alters the structure of the heart, causing shrinkage and atrophy, and low-intensity exercise is not enough to keep that from happening. The study published Monday in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.
Photo : CNN
The gravity we experience on Earth is what helps the heart to maintain both its size and function as it keeps blood pumping through our veins. Even something as simple as standing up and walking around helps pull blood down into our legs.
When the element of gravity is replaced with weightlessness, the heart shrinks in response.
Kelly lived in the absence of gravity aboard the International Space Station from March 27, 2015, to March 1, 2016. He worked out on a stationary bike and treadmill and incorporated resistance activities into his routine six days a week for two hours each day.
Lecomte swam from June 5 to November 11, 2018, covering 1,753 miles and averaging about six hours a day swimming. That sustained activity may sound extreme, but each day of swimming was considered to be low-intensity activity.
Even though Lecomte was on Earth, he was spending hours a day in the water, which offsets the effects of gravity. Long-distance swimmers use the prone technique, a horizontal facedown position, for these endurance swims.
Researchers expected that the activities performed by both men would keep their hearts from experiencing any shrinkage or weakening. Data collected from tests of their hearts before, during and after these extreme events showed otherwise.
Kelly and Lecomte both experienced a loss of mass and initial drop in diameter in the left ventricles of the heart during their experiences.
Both long-duration spaceflight and prolonged water immersion led to a very specific adaptation of the heart, said senior study author Dr. Benjamin Levine, a professor of internal medicine/cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
While the authors point out that they only studied two men who both performed extraordinary things, further study is needed to understand how the human body reacts in extreme situations.
Read the full article at CNN.
Empowering Women in STEM at Stanford
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Stanford women in stem pose together with arms around each other shoulders smiling

By Taylor Kubota

Although women are graduating with science degrees in increasing numbers, their representation diminishes by the time they reach more senior levels.

To give women a sense of belonging in STEM departments—and ultimately ensure the world benefits from their ideas and insights—over a dozen groups at Stanford University are pushing their communities to amplify and encourage the influence of women in STEM.

One such group, led by Margot Gerritsen, professor of energy resources engineering in the School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences, runs an international network of data science conferences that feature woman panelists and speakers called the Women in Data Science Conference (WiDS).

“We do not just want work with women at the exclusion of others. We do want to promote outstanding work by outstanding women, and show women they are not alone in this field.” Gerritsen said.

A Vision for Stanford

As part of Stanford’s vision, the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access in a Learning Environment (IDEAL) initiative is working across the entire campus community to advance the university’s commitment to the values of diversity and inclusion.

“Promoting diversity at Stanford is critical for ensuring our intellectual strength and ability to contribute to our communities in meaningful ways,” said Provost Persis Drell. “The number of women undergraduates in STEM subjects at Stanford is increasing—which is great—but there is still a large disparity for women entering these fields professionally. And women leave their STEM-based careers at a much higher rate than men. These campus organizations help call attention to these issues.”

Centering Women, Welcoming All

Stanford’s Women in STEM groups focus on supporting women, but are open to anyone who shares the goal of promoting a supportive and encouraging environment for all.

“The default is for men to feel more wanted and for women to doubt whether they should attend an event or speak up during a discussion. It’s important to have some spaces where we reverse that expectation and explicitly tell women that they belong here,” said Julia Olivieri, a graduate student in the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering who is also co-president of Women in Mathematics, Statistics and Computational Engineering (WiMSCE).

Olivieri founded WiMSCE with her co-president, Allison Koenecke, also a graduate student in the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering, inspired by Gerritsen’s efforts to elevate women in their institute.

As with many similar groups, they aim to create an environment where women don’t have to worry about being the spokesperson for their gender or about bringing up issues specific to being a woman in STEM.

“Oftentimes you’re the only woman in the room, so you’re scared that if you say something wrong, not only will they think you’re stupid, they’ll think that all women are stupid,” said Koenecke. “These women-centric groups, like WiMSCE, are a place for women to gain experience in asking questions and not be afraid to fail.”

The Women in STEM groups at Stanford support many activities, bridging professional, personal and cultural enrichment. They host networking and career development events, where attendees can find mentors, meet with industry professionals and learn how to ask for raises. They have informal community-building events, like paint nights and hangouts, to discuss the week’s highs and lows.

The groups do delve into specific issues that tend to go hand-in-hand with existing as a woman in academia, such as the imposter syndrome (the idea that you don’t deserve your success, even in the face of clear evidence that you do) and the “mom effect” (the expectation that as teachers, they should be more nurturing than teachers who are men).

“I went to community college before transferring and was fortunate enough to learn about programs that encourage women and minorities in science,” said Priscilla San Juan, a graduate student in biology and president of Stanford Hermanas in STEM. “We can make an impact just by being present, so that these young students can see that there’s more than one kind of scientist.”

Elevating Others

Many of Stanford’s groups supporting women in STEM are having an impact outside the campus community. Stanford’s Womxn in Design had over 350 people attend their conference last fall, and hosted their first makeathon in February.

“As we were searching for a diverse lineup of conference speakers, we were faced with the harsh reality— the rest of the field isn’t really elevating womxn of color. So, we are really pushing to be more inclusive,” said Nicole Orsak, a management science and engineering major and co-president of Stanford Womxn in Design. “We’ve also changed the ‘e’ in our name to an ‘x’ to make it clear that we welcome all womxn and, really, anyone who is an ally to womxn.”

Stanford’s Hermanas in STEM is also considering a name change in order to reinforce that their membership goes beyond women and Latinx people.

“Everyone is welcome in Hermanas in STEM. All we ask is that people advocate for Latinx folks in academic spaces because we don’t always feel welcome or that we belong,” added San Juan.

Gerritsen, too, acknowledges that the success of WiDS sets the stage for a more complex effort to promote other minority groups in data science, such as women of color and gender non-binary people.

For now, she’s focused on how to make the WiDS network as strong as possible.

“What I’m hoping is someday these conferences are totally unnecessary. That would be great,” said Gerritsen. “We just want to normalize that there are women out there doing outstanding work.”

Source:  https://news.stanford.edu/2020/03/02/recognizing-empowering-women-stem/

Can Virtual Reality Help Autistic Children Navigate the Real World?
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Mr. Ravindran adjusts his son’s VR headset between lessons. “It was one of the first times I’d seen him do pretend play like that,” Mr. Ravindran said of the time when his son used Google Street View through a headset, then went into his playroom and acted out what he had experienced in VR. “It ended up being a light bulb moment.

By Gautham Nagesh, New York Times

This article is part of Upstart, a series on young companies harnessing new science and technology.

Vijay Ravindran has always been fascinated with technology. At Amazon, he oversaw the team that built and started Amazon Prime. Later, he joined the Washington Post as chief digital officer, where he advised Donald E. Graham on the sale of the newspaper to his former boss, Jeff Bezos, in 2013.

By late 2015, Mr. Ravindran was winding down his time at the renamed Graham Holdings Company. But his primary focus was his son, who was then 6 years old and undergoing therapy for autism.

“Then an amazing thing happened,” Mr. Ravindran said.

Mr. Ravindran was noodling around with a virtual reality headset when his son asked to try it out. After spending 30 minutes using the headset in Google Street View, the child went to his playroom and started acting out what he had done in virtual reality.

“It was one of the first times I’d seen him do pretend play like that,” Mr. Ravindran said. “It ended up being a light bulb moment.”

Like many autistic children, Mr. Ravindran’s son struggled with pretend play and other social skills. His son’s ability to translate his virtual reality experience to the real world sparked an idea. A year later, Mr. Ravindran started a company called Floreo, which is developing virtual reality lessons designed to help behavioral therapists, speech therapists, special educators and parents who work with autistic children.

The idea of using virtual reality to help autistic people has been around for some time, but Mr. Ravindran said the widespread availability of commercial virtual reality headsets since 2015 had enabled research and commercial deployment at much larger scale. Floreo has developed almost 200 virtual reality lessons that are designed to help children build social skills and train for real world experiences like crossing the street or choosing where to sit in the school cafeteria.

Last year, as the pandemic exploded demand for telehealth and remote learning services, the company delivered 17,000 lessons to customers in the United States. Experts in autism believe the company’s flexible platform could go global in the near future.

That’s because the demand for behavioral and speech therapy as well as other forms of intervention to address autism is so vast. Getting a diagnosis for autism can take months — crucial time in a child’s development when therapeutic intervention can be vital. And such therapy can be costly and require enormous investments of time and resources by parents.

The Floreo system requires an iPhone (version 7 or later) and a V.R. headset (a low-end model costs as little as $15 to $30), as well as an iPad, which can be used by a parent, teacher or coach in-person or remotely. The cost of the program is roughly $50 per month. (Floreo is currently working to enable insurance reimbursement, and has received Medicaid approval in four states.)

A child dons the headset and navigates the virtual reality lesson, while the coach — who can be a parent, teacher, therapist, counselor or personal aide — monitors and interacts with the child through the iPad.

The lessons cover a wide range of situations, such as visiting the aquarium or going to the grocery store. Many of the lessons involve teaching autistic children, who may struggle to interpret nonverbal cues, to interpret body language.

Autistic self-advocates note that behavioral therapy to treat autism is controversial among those with autism, arguing that it is not a disease to be cured and that therapy is often imposed on autistic children by their non-autistic parents or guardians. Behavioral therapy, they say, can harm or punish children for behaviors such as fidgeting. They argue that rather than conditioning autistic people to act like neurotypical individuals, society should be more welcoming of them and their different manner of experiencing the world.

“A lot of the mismatch between autistic people and society is not the fault of autistic people, but the fault of society,” said Zoe Gross, the director of advocacy at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. “People should be taught to interact with people who have different kinds of disabilities.”

Mr. Ravindran said Floreo respected all voices in the autistic community, where needs are diverse. He noted that while Floreo was used by many behavioral health providers, it had been deployed in a variety of contexts, including at schools and in the home.

“The Floreo system is designed to be positive and fun, while creating positive reinforcement to help build skills that help acclimate to the real world,” Mr. Ravindran said.

In 2017, Floreo secured a $2 million fast track grant from the National Institutes of Health. The company is first testing whether autistic children will tolerate headsets, then conducting a randomized control trial to test the method’s usefulness in helping autistic people interact with the police.

Early results have been promising: According to a study published in the Autism Research journal (Mr. Ravindran was one of the authors), 98 percent of the children completed their lessons, quelling concerns about autistic children with sensory sensitivities being resistant to the headsets.

Ms. Gross said she saw potential in virtual reality lessons that helped people rehearse unfamiliar situations, such as Floreo’s lesson on crossing the street. “There are parts of Floreo to get really excited about: the airport walk through, or trick or treating — a social story for something that doesn’t happen as frequently in someone’s life,” she said, adding that she would like to see a lesson for medical procedures.

However, she questioned a general emphasis by the behavioral therapy industry on using emerging technologies to teach autistic people social skills.

A second randomized control trial using telehealth, conducted by Floreo using another N.I.H. grant, is underway, in hopes of showing that Floreo’s approach is as effective as in-person coaching.

But it was those early successes that convinced Mr. Ravindran to commit fully to the project.

“There were just a lot of really excited people.,” he said. “When I started showing families what we had developed, people would just give me a big hug. They would start crying that there was someone working on such a high-tech solution for their kids.”

Clinicians who have used the Floreo system say the virtual reality environment makes it easier for children to focus on the skill being taught in the lessons, unlike in the real world where they might be overwhelmed by sensory stimuli.

Celebrate the Children, a nonprofit private school in Denville, N.J., for children with autism and related challenges, hosted one of the early pilots for Floreo; Monica Osgood, the school’s co-founder and executive director, said the school had continued to use the system.

Click here to read the full article on New York Times.

Women and Drones Documentary Filming Onsite at Commercial UAV Expo
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woman flying a drone wearing a safety vest and glassess

Commercial UAV Expo has been announced as an official filming location for a multi-part documentary produced through a partnership with Women and Drones and documentary film company Monumental Access. The partnership will focus on inspiring the next generation of talented aviation leaders by capturing the stories and footage of women in the drone industry.

In partnership with Women and Drones, Monumental Access has been creating a multi-part documentary for a behind-the-scenes look into the professionals, especially women, in the uncrewed aviation space. The multi-part documentary will give a birds-eye view of the significance of the drone industry by capturing in-depth interviews with educators, CEOs, and professionals allowing their stories to be told from the first-person perspective. Viewers will have an all-access look into the women’s lives who are shaping the industry.

“Women and Drones has been an important supporting partner of Commercial UAV Expo for years. We are thrilled that we can help elevate their mission and provide a documentary filming location to access some of the most influential leaders in the commercial drone industry by bringing the filming location to Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas,” said Lora Burns, Marketing Manager and Coordinator of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion UAV Empower initiatives at Commercial UAV Expo.

“The partnership with Monumental and Commercial UAV Expo will allow us to capture stories of the individuals who are contributing to the future of STEM and aviation. From the nonprofits and educational organizations introducing youth to aviation and STEM via drones to the innovators leading the way in the various emerging aviation technologies we plan to shed a bright light on the industry” said Sharon Rossmark, CEO of Women and Drones.

“Monumental Access is excited to highlight the excellence achieved by women in the field of emerging aviation technologies. By capturing their stories through the lens of a camera everyone will have an opportunity to have a front-row seat alongside these amazing women” said Monte Chambers, founder and CEO of Monumental Access.

Filming started in May with the Disaster Response Workshop hosted by Dr. Robin Murphy at Texas A&M and the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. The project captured the experiences of the participants and facilitators and shared a powerful message about the importance of this type of training for women. “Ultimately, my desired outcome for filming in the Disaster Response Workshop will be to create engaging content for viewers unfamiliar with the drone sector of the aviation industry. By raising awareness to the public, these modern-day hidden figures will be in the spotlight” Chambers added.

The next round of filming will take place at Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas, Sept 6-8, 2022. In addition to the onsite filming, Commercial UAV Expo offers a robust conference program delivering practical, actionable education. Sessions include a panel on Women Behind the Drone Revolution, hosted by DroneTalks, featuring inspirational women from around the world as they share career path stories, and deliver actionable insight based on their successes, key challenges, important learnings, and their current activities in the industry.  Additional programming includes deep dive vertical industry sessions for professionals in construction, drone delivery, energy & utilities, forestry & agriculture, infrastructure & transportation, mining & aggregates, security, and surveying & mapping. Industry Update Sessions provide up-to-the-minute information on topics that affect everyone in UAS, such as AAM, BVLOS, and autonomy.

Event features include an exhibit hall that will feature 200+ top UAS companies from around the globe. Additional special events include Live Outdoor Flying Demonstrations, the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Summit, and Workshops and Trainings, all of which allow for hands-on learning and industry connections. The 2022 event boasts more than 300 media and association supporters from six continents, including the longstanding supporting partnership with Women and Drones. Visit www.expouav.com for more information or to register.

Women and Drones Email Contact:  media@womenanddrones.com
Commercial UAV Email Contact: lburns@divcom.com

About Commercial UAV Expo 

Commercial UAV Expo, presented by Commercial UAV News, is an international conference and expo exclusively focused on commercial UAS integration and operation covering industries including Construction; Drone Delivery; Energy & Utilities; Forestry & Agriculture; Infrastructure & Transportation; Mining & Aggregates; Public Safety & Emergency Services; Security; and Surveying & Mapping. It takes place September 6 – 8, 2022 at Caesars Forum, Las Vegas NV. For more information, visit www.expouav.com.

Commercial UAV Expo is produced by Diversified Communications’ technology portfolio which also includes Commercial UAV News; Geo Week, Geo Week Newsletter, 3D Technology Newsletter, AEC Innovations Newsletter, Geo Business (UK) and Digital Construction Week (UK).

About Women and Drones:

Women And Drones is the leading membership organization dedicated to driving excellence in the uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) industry by advocating for female participation in this dynamic segment of the global economy. We partner with companies committed to an inclusive culture where women can thrive. Our educational programs range from kindergarten to career in efforts to balance the gender equation in the industry now, as well as for the future of flight.

About Monumental Access

Monumental Access focuses on producing quality media by creating content, capturing the heartfelt story, and connecting with community stakeholders. With the nationwide demand for videographers, Monumental Access developed a unique market for governmental, non-profit, and corporate companies.  What started off as a dream during the 2020 Global pandemic, has transitioned into a reality in detailing the important moments of our clients through the lens of a camera.  Combined with unique storytelling and professionalism, Monumental Access connects the hearts and attention of many across the country with its interviews, commercials, and documentaries! As a result, Monumental Access is one of the most creative media companies in the Saint Louis, MO area.

 

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