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.

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

NASA is training human-like robots to explore caves on Mars
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A NASA project called BRAILLE is now working on exploring Mars-like caves that already exist on Earth in order to hone key technologies for future missions.

BY SOPHIE LEWIS, CBS News

When searching for signs of life on other planets, scientists say caves are a crucial place to look. But how can a team on Earth effectively explore intricate, dark, unfamiliar landscapes on another world?

NASA and Boston Dynamics have found an answer: Fully autonomous robots. Caves are one of the most likely places to find signs of both current and past life on other planets because they are capable of protecting life from cosmic rays and extreme temperature fluctuations around our solar system. A NASA project called BRAILLE is now working on exploring Mars-like caves that already exist on Earth in order to hone key technologies for future missions.

According to researchers, the project has enabled the first-ever fully autonomous robotic exploration of these types of caves, which are several hundred meters long and limit communication with the surface. As the robots explore, with no prior information about the environment, a team of researchers outside the cave simultaneously performs actions that scientists on Earth would be executing during a real Martian mission.

The research, which project lead Ali Agha said could “fundamentally change how we think about future missions,” is now in year three of four in its quest to journey to the moon, the red planet and beyond.

But researchers are interested in exploring caves for another reason beyond finding signs of life: caves provide obvious natural shelters for future astronauts exploring Mars or the moon.

“Future potential human exploration missions can benefit from robots in many different ways,” Agha told CBS News. “Particularly, robots can be sent in precursor missions to provide more information about the destination before humans land on those destinations. In addition, robots can accompany astronauts during the missions to help with scouting certain terrains or with logistics and many tasks that can make astronauts’ missions safer and more efficient.”

So, how is designing a Mars robot different from designing an Earth robot? They are similar in a lot of ways, Agha said, especially when it comes to the AI robot brain, called NeBula, and its ability to process information and make decisions when they don’t have contact with scientists on Earth.

Click here to read the full article on CBS News.

The Cow That Could Feed the Planet
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Mosa Meat has recruited a global team of lab technicians and biologists to develop, build and run its scaled-up operations. Rui Hueber, checks the health of recent cell samples. Ricardo Cases for TIME

BY ARYN BAKER/MAASTRICHT, Time

The cows in Farmer John’s pasture lead an idyllic life. They roam through tree-shaded meadows, tearing up mouthfuls of clover while nursing their calves in tranquility.

Tawny brown, compact and muscular, they are Limousins, a breed known for the quality of its meat and much sought-after by the high-end restaurants and butchers in the nearby food mecca of Maastricht, in the southernmost province of the Netherlands. In a year or two, meat from these dozen cows could end up on the plates of Maastricht’s better-known restaurants, but the cows themselves are not headed for the slaughterhouse. Instead, every few months, a veterinarian equipped with little more than a topical anesthetic and a scalpel will remove a peppercorn-size sample of muscle from their flanks, stitch up the tiny incision and send the cows back to their pasture.

The biopsies, meanwhile, will be dropped off at a lab in a nondescript warehouse in Maastricht’s industrial quarter, five miles away, where, when I visit in July, cellular biologist Johanna Melke is already working on samples sent in a few days prior. She swirls a flask full of a clear liquid flecked with white filaments—stem cells isolated from the biopsy and fed on a nutrient-dense growth medium. In a few days, the filaments will thicken into tubes that look something like short strands of spaghetti. “This is fat,” says Melke proudly. “Fat is really important. Without fat, meat doesn’t taste as good.”

On the opposite side of the building, other scientists are replicating the process with muscle cells. Like the fat filaments, the lean muscle cells will be transferred to large bioreactors—temperature- and pressure-controlled steel vessels—where, bathed in a nutrient broth optimized for cell multiplication, they will continue to grow. Once they finish the proliferation stage, the fat and the muscle tissue will be sieved out of their separate vats and reunited into a product resembling ground hamburger meat, with the exact same genetic code as the cows in Farmer John’s pasture. (The farmer has asked to go by his first name only, in order to protect his cows, and his farm, from too much media attention.)

That final product, identical to the ground beef you are used to buying in the grocery store in every way but for the fact that it was grown in a reactor instead of coming from a butchered cow, is the result of years of research, and could help solve one of the biggest conundrums of our era: how to feed a growing global population without increasing the greenhouse-gas emissions that are heating our planet past the point of sustainability. “What we do to cows, it’s terrible,” says Melke, shaking her head. “What cows do to the planet when we farm them for meat? It’s even worse. But people want to eat meat. This is how we solve the problem.”

When it comes to the importance of fat in the final product, Melke admits to a slight bias. She is a senior scientist on the Fat Team, a small group of specialists within the larger scientific ecosystem of Mosa Meat, the Maastricht-based startup whose founders introduced the first hamburger grown from stem cells to the world eight years ago. That burger cost $330,000 to produce, and now Melke’s Fat Team is working with the Muscle Team, the (stem cell) Isolation Team and the Scale Team, among others, to bring what they call cell-cultivated meat to market at an affordable price.

They are not the only ones. More than 70 other startups around the world are courting investors in a race to deliver lab-grown versions of beef, chicken, pork, duck, tuna, foie gras, shrimp, kangaroo and even mouse (for cat treats) to market. Competition is fierce, and few companies have allowed journalists in for fear of risks to intellectual property. Mosa Meat granted TIME exclusive access to its labs and scientists so the process can be better understood by the general public.

Click here to read the full article on Time.

We Must Include More Women in Physics – It Would Help the Whole of Humanity
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Woman writing physics equations on a white board

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.

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

3 Things To Know About What Scientists Say About Our Future Climate
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climate control post. hands holding a world globe

By , NPR

More than 200 climate scientists just released a stark look at how fast the climate is warming, showing heat waves, extreme rain and intense droughts are on the rise. The evidence for warming is “unequivocal” but the extent of future disasters will be determined by how fast governments can cut heat-trapping emissions. Here are the top findings from the report.

#1 Humans are causing rapid and widespread warming
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has now reached the highest level in at least the past 2 million years. As a result, temperatures are warming quickly. Since 1970, global temperatures have increased faster than in any other 50-year period in the last 2,000 years. Some parts of the globe, like the poles, are warming even faster.

#2 Extreme weather is on the rise and will keep getting worse
Heat waves are more frequent and intense. Storms are dumping more rainfall, causing floods. Droughts are getting hotter and drier. Scientists are finding these trends are directly linked to the human influence on the climate and they’re getting worse.

#3 If humans cut emissions, the worst impacts are avoidable
While the planet will continue warm in the near-term, scientists say there is still time to prevent catastrophic climate change. That would mean a rapid drop in emissions from power plants and cars over the next few decades, essentially halting the use of fossil fuels.

Click here to read the full article on NPR.

Scientists Partially Restored a Blind Man’s Sight With New Gene Therapy
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In previous studies, researchers have been able to treat a genetic form of blind ness called Leber congenital amaurosis, by fixing a faulty gene that would otherwise cause photoreceptors to gradually degenerate.

By Carl Zimmer, Yahoo! News

A team of scientists announced Monday that they had partially restored the sight of a blind man by building light-catching proteins in one of his eyes. Their report, which appeared in the journal Nature Medicine, is the first published study to describe the successful use of this treatment. “Seeing for the first time that it did work — even if only in one patient and in one eye — is exciting,” said Ehud Isacoff, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the study.

The procedure is a far cry from full vision. The volunteer, a 58-year-old man who lives in France, had to wear special goggles that gave him the ghostly perception of objects in a narrow field of view. But the authors of the report say that the trial — the result of 13 years of work — is a proof of concept for more effective treatments to come.

“It’s obviously not the end of the road, but it’s a major milestone,” said José-Alain Sahel, an ophthalmologist who splits his time between the University of Pittsburgh and the Sorbonne in Paris.

Sahel and other scientists have tried for decades to find a cure for inherited forms of blindness. These genetic disorders rob the eyes of essential proteins required for vision.

When light enters the eye, it is captured by photoreceptor cells. The photoreceptors then send an electrical signal to their neighbors, called ganglion cells, which can identify important features like motion. They then send signals of their own to the optic nerve, which delivers the information to the brain.

In previous studies, researchers have been able to treat a genetic form of blindness called Leber congenital amaurosis, by fixing a faulty gene that would otherwise cause photoreceptors to gradually degenerate.

But other forms of blindness cannot be treated so simply, because their victims lose their photoreceptors completely.

“Once the cells are dead, you cannot repair the gene defect,” Sahel said.

For these diseases, Sahel and other researchers have been experimenting with a more radical kind of repair. They are using gene therapy to turn ganglion cells into new photoreceptor cells, even though they don’t normally capture light.

The scientists are taking advantage of proteins derived from algae and other microbes that can make any nerve cell sensitive to light.

In the early 2000s, neuroscientists figured out how to install some of these proteins into the brain cells of mice and other lab animals by injecting viruses carrying their genes. The viruses infected certain types of brain cells, which then used the new gene to build light-sensitive channels.

Originally, researchers developed this technique, called optogenetics, as a way to probe the workings of the brain. By inserting a tiny light into the animal’s brain, they could switch a certain type of brain cell on or off with the flick of a switch. The method has enabled them to discover the circuitry underlying many kinds of behavior.

Click here to read the full article on Yahoo! News.

Why Mars? The fascination with exploring the red planet
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A rendering of the planet Mars

By Ashley Strickland of CNN

The mystique of Mars is one that humans can’t seem to resist. The red planet has easily captured our interest for centuries, heavily featured in science fiction books and films and the subject of robotic exploration since the 1960s.

In February, three spacecraft arrived at Mars after departing from different launch points on Earth in July. These myriad missions seek to understand our planetary neighbor and unlock the secrets of its past to prepare for future exploration.
The three missions — China’s Tianwen-1, the United Arab Emirates’ Hope Probe and NASA’s Perseverance rover — took advantage of an alignment between Mars and Earth that occurs every 26 months, allowing for quicker and more efficient trips when the two planets are on the same side of the sun.
The Hope Probe will stay in orbit for a Martian year — equivalent to 687 days on Earth — to gather data about Mars’ atmosphere.
Tianwen-1, whose name means “Quest for Heavenly Truth,” is orbiting the planet before landing a rover on the surface, with the hope that it can gather important information about the Martian soil, geological structure, environment, atmosphere and signs of water.
The Perseverance rover is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars and will collect samples to be returned to Earth by future missions.
Perseverance also carries the names of nearly 11 million people etched on three silicon chips. She is a robotic scientist exploring Mars on behalf of humanity and is able to share what she sees and hears through 23 cameras, including video, and two microphones.
If three missions arriving at Mars within days of each other seems excessive, imagine explorers seeing Earth for the first time and wanting to understand all aspects of its past, climate, water, geology and life systems. It takes time and different capabilities to explore aspects of an entire planet to know the real story.
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

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