Samruddhi Shinde’sclub meeting
HARINDI JAYAKODY Q&A WITHby Nandini Mathur
What initially inspired you to pursue a care er in STEM? And Why specifically Chemical Engine ering and Molecular Biology?
It all started with my dream to get into medicine ever since I was 5. At this point, I probably only knew medicine as a possible career choice. But then this choice grew on me. I kept studying the signsfirstly it was my love for biology, I would read every chapter even before the teacher at school would start teaching us about it. I was obsessed!
But my initial career choice changed after an internship at a local GP clinic. After two days there, I knew although I loved biology, medicine was not for me mainly because I couldn’t bear the sight of people in pain!. I was stuck at this point, as it was the summer before university applications went out!
After conducting some research into biology-related degrees, I decided to choose molecular biology. My decisions were based on my love for biology - in particular human biology. I also knew I eventually wanted a career in industry that would create a positive difference in people’s lives.
I was also an immigrant and with that comes the challenges with getting a sponsored job. I started working full time as a scientist whilst working on my master’s. My Ph.D. in chemical engineering was sparked by my passion to work in industry whilst researching for my Ph.D.
I wanted my research to be performed on products that would eventually be out for commercial use. I was fortunate to find a company and a supervisor at my university who agreed for me to be working in industry full time whilst working on my Ph.D.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls around the world, especially from marginalized communities, regarding STEM and their careers?
A lot of us think STEM is limited to a few careers, be it in medicine, engineering, or IT. I want everyone to know that there is so much out there and it is always possible to find a career that suits you. Just be sure to do your research, seek out your mentors, speak to individuals in the industry and take part in internships to understand if a job in a particular industry suits you!
If you had to study a different field in STEM, what would it be and why?
I don’t think I would choose another field in STEM. I love what I do. If I have a choice I would evolve my role away from research into something like project management- but definitely within healthcare.
You have interacted with a lot of your fellow STEM individuals and have had fascinating conversations. What drove you to create “brownstemgirl?“.
I have always wanted to inspire more women. And while I was sitting around at home during COVID, I realized that this was the best time to put my ideas into practice. After quite a long time of brainstorming, I took the challenge and started my series.
The purpose of the series is to interview diverse women in stem and provide visible role models to other women within STEM or those aspiring to get into STEM, thereby giving them the confidence to fulfill their goals in STEM.by Hannah Burleson
heights and honoring my learnings.
I am a young scientist and researcher who believes in innovation and equality. I believe I have a mindset of growth and passion with the drive and determination to keep on learning, growing and achieving.
The qualities I have developed has grown with my experiences and time. I was an overachiever from a young age in many areas of my life but academics was not one of them.
These areas included sports where I have been nurtured to be a blue belt in karate and have played multiple other sports on various levels including district level where I represented my institution.
Being an athlete in a young age made me a visionary and a challenger. At the same time my love and passion for astronomy and research grew; at the age of 15 I gained my Diploma’s in Cosmology and had started working in research groups at the age of 14.
I have empowered many young girls and their families due to my influence in some of my clubs such as spantrik. My commitment and charisma lead me to be the voice of change I believe in.
My story includes rejection due to age, gender and personality but these didn’t stop me from reaching
I have been a part of many WHO events for the past years to help spread awareness. I am the founder of a youth-serving organization called One.Step which aims to provide help to a passionate learner and having a trustworthy mentor.
I was the first member of SPANTRIK that aims to empower girls and share their stories.
This platform will allow me a larger community to help inspire and grow as we are located in Asia which holds a stereotypical mindset for the girls born here.
These were the things that have led me to gain the Rising Leader Award and the Female Child Prodigy Award from Icons of Asia. I have [also] been awarded Bronze Honor in the International Astronomy and astrophysics Competition held in 2021.
I want that in the coming years the unknown leaders of the greatest success in the world’s history never be hidden again like Margaret Hamilton who deserves the credit for all that they have done.
What do you wish more people knew about STEM, and why?
That it is alright to not like a part of STEM but still feel passionate about the overall result. Many people have this wrong mindset
Who are you, what do you do, and why do you do it?
that if you want to be a scientist you have to love mathematics which leads them to giving up on the sector completely.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I see myself travelling to different countries with different aims of having collaborative research projects with them while learning the ancient past of the places I will be visiting.
I see myself to be independent and helping support many passionate learners without the care of their gender, race or ability.
Who do you look up to, and why?
I have always had an analogue that states the only person you should look up to is the future you in 2 years span. This allows me to not limit myself from stopping achieving what other great people have already achieved.
How is STEM personally important to you?
For me STEM is a place where anything you dream can come true. It is a way of expressing your imaginenations and help make them into reality may it vary from drone to VR technologies. It gives us a chance to either prove outself right by giving us the ability to test.
What should aspiring young women who want to go into STEM do to get started, in your opinion?
Voicing their opinions and reching out to women or even men in that matter of fact and explaining them their intresents and what they aspire to do. In todays highly connected social society platforms like LinkedIn provide a pathway of connecting with people in every different level of their careers.
How did you know you wanted to work towards your current career goals/path?
For me my astronomy was not something that I got to know as my passion, for a fairly young age I was attracted to the night sky, curious as to what all lies beyond and before the age of 5/6 I was sure that is something I will be doing. Even when I was failing in school, in life my dreams, goals never left the truth of my future.by Nandini Mathur
SPACE, TIME & CLAY TABLETS
SPACE, TIME & CLAY TABLETS
Ancient Mesopotamian artifacts hold the key to some of the oldest astronomy in history
What was the earliest evidence of written science? How did we define the concept of time and calendars? And who was the first scientist?
When we think of ancient astronomers, we think of big names that belong to definitive and close periods. Galileo, who famously invented the telescope in 1609, is the most common example. But to find out who was the first great Scientist, we will have to go back further.
Sumer was an ancient civilization in Mesopotamia and was under the influence of the chief Astronomerpriestess. Back then, “astronomer” and “priestess” were titles given to people who would later go on to be called scientists.
Those who lived here, called Sumerians, were some of the earliest to have such an abundance of written literature. This was made possible by a process called “cuneiform”.
Cuneiform is an ancient writing technique that can be found throughout the history of the Middle
East, with its earliest traces leading us back to the Sumerian language.
People would use clay tablets and carve the words onto it. Cuneiform was a very vital practice in history, and would later become what gave Sumerians the legacy of having a prestigious spot in astronomical development. This form of communication may have cultivated the first astronomers, amongst which was one Enheduanna.
Enheudanna’s name translates to “Chief Ornament of Heaven.” She was a powerful woman and was appointed as Chief Priestess of the City of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, where she managed the temples and agricultural activities and mapped out the year through calendars.
One line in one of her poems, which was preserved and translated from Cuneiform, shows us she was an active observer of the sky. She talks about a place called the “GiPar” where, according to what was deduced by many researchers, the
priestesses would map out the moon’s position and create calendars for important dates and deadlines. This is one of the earliest pieces of evidence of calendar mapping and is a method that went on to be used for centuries
Her poems are proof of how advanced and innovative the Sumerians were in astronomy, and proof that there were a number of astronomers like her, many of whom were women, who contributed to the arts, religion, and science of the civilization.
The Sumerians were not short on great feats when it came to other areas of our modern-day STEM. Their tablets have also been found with math equations and entire mathematical systems carefully and logically constructed.
Their math system was based around the number 60 (“a sexagesimal system”). Sound familiar? That is because over centuries, Babylonians were able to convert this system into measurements that created the foundation of our current system of seconds, minutes, hours, and well, all of time. 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and so on!
There are so many more parts of Sumerian Literature, specifically EnHeduanna’s literature, telling us how priestesses, astronomers, and philosophers observed science.
So the next time you mark a test date on your phone’s calendar or count down the clock till the lunch break, know that it wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the great artists and innovators of a 6000-year-old civilization.
THIS IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST PIECES OF EVIDENCE OF CALENDAR MAPPING.
“ an cuneiformancienttabletby Nandini Mathur
NASA’S LUCY MISSION
A NASA probe looks for answers surrounding the creation of the universe
Where did our planet come from? What is our solar system and how was it created? Even though it isn’t possible to travel 4.54 billion years into the past, scientists have set out on a journey to explore something that might carry these memories of our planet’s creation with it; The Trojan Asteroids.
The Trojan asteroids are
believed to be a “time capsule” from the planetary evolution period, the earliest days of the formation of planets as we know them. They exist in orbits around the planet Jupiter. Due to their position, the gravities of Jupiter and the sun balancing each other out allows the orbits to be stable and exist for billions of years.
The Trojans are considered to be the earliest remains of the same matter that has built the giant outer planets, i.e. Neptune, Saturn, Uranus and of course,
Jupiter. Thousands of Trojan asteroids have been discovered, and it is said that many of them were created at separate points from where they stand today.
These asteroids exist in binary systems and families, i.e. distinct pairs and groups, and many orbit at varying degrees from Jupiter, constantly moving on their tracks and altering their distance from the planet.
“The Lucy Mission” is an ode to “Lucy,” the name given to a fossilized hominid skeleton that gave scientists in the 70s’ a major insight into the evolution of humanity.
The scientists for the Lucy Mission hope the same effect can occur and, in true Lucy fashion, give us an insight into the evolution of our planetary system, with the asteroids serving as the first fossils.
The Lucy Mission will be the first of its kind. It will explore these asteroids for answers to the unclear creation of the planets, and maybe even life.
This probe will have the most complex 12-year space mission
ever pulled off. It has set out to explore seven Trojans, with an additional asteroid from the main asteroid belt of our system.
In the seven Trojans, four will be binary systems, consisting of two asteroids together. It will be giving us a look into two clusters of the Trojans, and of the C-, P- and D- types of bodies. It is also a solar-powered vehicle that will, ironically yet remarkably, be traveling the furthest from the sun than any other solar-powered device ever has.
Year by year, the different asteroids to be explored by Lucy will include Queta, Rybates and Polymele in the fall of 2027. Leucus and Orus will be explored in April and November of 2028.
The Probe will take three gravity assists from Earth, returning to earth every few years, in 2022, then in 2024, and finally in 2031, after which it will go on its final expedition to the binary asteroids Patroclus and Menoetius.
It will also be exploring Donaldjhonson, an asteroid in the main asteroid belt, in April 2025. The exploration of these various asteroids, their relative ages and the study of their surfaces and materials, will make room for indepth research into the origins of our planets and solar systems.
On October 16th 2021, The Lucy Mission was set into motion with the launch of the probe at Kennedy Space Centre, ready to help us unpack a small part of our vast cosmic universe with its future discoveries.
RAMYA CHAMKERIby Sejal Mohan
Chamkeri gives advice to fellow pre-med women
Ramya Chamkeri is an undergraduate student at the University of South Florida. She is a Biomedical Sciences major toso she can pursue the premedical path.
She is also the current Administrator Chair for the American Red Cross Club at USF and is involved with a research paper concerning cells.
“I’ve always been more inclined towards science and math as a child, and after volunteering in hospitals during high school I decided I’d like to major in something related to medicine. My aspirations in STEM are to do research and contribute to the medical field, whether that be through becoming a practicing physician or working towards systemic justice in healthcare,” Chamkeri said.
She has been a part of the Red Cross club in her high school but started getting consistently involved this past school year when she joined the chapter at USF.
Her duties as Administrator Chair include assisting the President and Junior President in organizing and planning events. She puts hours into the Redinto Red Cross to support the idea of equal and fair treatment for everyone, regardless of borders.
“I am currently not involved in any wet-lab research, but I am contributing to a research paper regarding lipid asymmetry and the phenomenon of PS externalization in the cell membrane,” Chamkeri said.
Whether her contribution is small or large, Chamkeri hopes that her work and involvement can impact the medical field in a positive way, especially because the cell membrane plays a significant role in cancer proliferation.
She feels that research in this topic can help those who are impacted by cancer.
“Ideally, I’d like to enter the medical field and treat patients while conducting research on certain conditions and the flaws of the healthcare system. If not in the medical field, I’d also be interested in participating in the political sphere to bring light to medical justice and healthcare reform,” Chamkeri said.
Chamkeri’s passion is not limited to medical procedures, but to the overall field of medicine to ensure equal medical treatment for anyone who needs it.
Even though a lot of strides have been made to bring women into the STEM field where she grew up, her personal experience has not been negatively affected because of her sex.
“However, my experience has made me think about women in more conservative, poverty-stricken areas, and how they may be barred from obtaining an education and entering the STEM field. Knowing this makes me very grateful to be able to go to school and work towards my ambitions, and it motivates me to take advantage of every opportunity I am given,” Chamkeri said.
Chamkeri makes sure to be grateful for her opportunities and makes the most of them.
To advise other women who may want to pursue STEM, Ramya has advice on how that would work out in a college setting.
“I’d say that one thing that has really helped me get my foot in the door for STEM has just been actively participating in classes and clubs. For example, going up to teachers after lectures to ask them a question or making an effort to attend club meetings in-person instead of online has allowed me to form connections and feel more engaged in what I’m studying,” Chamkeri said.
Ramya emphasizes the importance of finding a community of people who see your full potential and are willing to help you reach it.
Having a STEM major or working on a STEM-related track can prove challenging, but not impossible, and certainly not unfruitful for those who really have the passion to put their ambition into practice.by Sejal Mohan
Samruddhi Shinde is a senior at the University of South Florida, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. In her college career, she has pursued numerous research endeavors, mainly in psychology labs focusing on clinical and cognitive psychology.
As a research assistant, she worked in data collection and analysis for different projects. She is also a peer mentor for other students in the Judy Genshaft Honors College.
“I personally have always enjoyed the field of psychology. Human behavior guides every decision we make so I believe it is important to understand why we have certain mannerisms and how they can impact a population. I think the greatest thing about research is providing people with awareness of an issue they may not have previously considered. This newfound awareness can guide future policies and make the world a little bit of a better place,” Shinde said.
Her current research, as a part of the Judy Genshaft Honors College, involves a capstone project in which she is delving into the nuances of Black life in America to break down misunderstandings. Her research aims to promote equality.
“I have been very fortunate to have worked in extremely diverse environments where my gender identity was accepted. However, I have close friends who have more difficult experiences and it’s those times that
Shinde speaks on social science research
remind me how important perseverance is. When you leave college and apply for jobs, the perception of your identity will affect the number of opportunities you receive and even the pay for those positions. Persevering in a field where you are not the majority is what will help the field grow and become more accepting,” Shinde said. It is crucial to understand that even as the inclusion does improve as time goes on, it does not apply to all areas or all people.
One goal Shinde has is to make research and science more accessible and diverse to encourage more women who are interested in STEM to seize their opportunities.
Like many women, she looks to be an inspiration for others through her dedication to creating a safe and welcoming space in research.
Her role as a peer mentor allows her to guide younger students to choose the path best for them, allowing her to provide proper support, whether it be through moral encouragement or resources, to anyone who might want to pursue STEM.
She also acknowledges that even though her current projects have not been subject to discrimination, there is definitely a possibility as she continues to further her education and her work in the STEM field. Her future holds many possibilities for success that younger women can look up to.
Could you tell us a bit more about Girls Will Code, a brief introduction and the programs it has hosted for young women in STEM?
Sanya: “Girls will code is a youthbased organization primarily based in the Philippines. Our Mission and aim is to promote interest in young girls in STEM-related activities. We’ve been hosting “Introduction to Coding” workshops so people can get into the different (coding) languages that are out there. We also have Webinars where we showcase the different STEM fields, and we also recently hosted our first ever hack-a-thon, where people were prompted to code something that could help change their community.”
Anya: “Girls will code started with service trips so we did service trips to local elementary schools and taught girls how to code there. To compensate for that, as due to Covid we could not conduct them, we started a youtube channel and posted online workshops, we teach kids python over zoom and we also have a blog, which is quite fun.”
What initially inspired you to pursue a career in STEM and Coding?
Sanya: “I was always fascinated by technology, especially the way it has helped us. The fact that we are communicating through a Video Chat, right now, and it’s all possible because of the new nature of technology. I was very grateful that in middle school and high school I got the opportunities to explore the different fields and areas there are under STEM. I could pursue Robotics, IT, computer science. I liked that problemsolving aspect and just wanted to learn more.“
Anya: “My interest kind of just grew over time, when I was really young I really liked Math and science and I liked the exploratory nature of it, you know, you solve all these problems. You know that rush every time you solve a computer science problem or a math problem? It’s like, “Oh my god, I did it”, I love that feeling. Eventually, I started getting into robotics and technology where you actually build cool stuff, it’s more of the engineering side of it. I took up computer science, which I found out I really liked as well. Right now, I am exploring that interest.”
GIRLS WILL CODEby Nandini Mathur
Sanya Chawla and Anya Chan run coding workshops for girls in the Philippines
Sanya: “I think first it’s important to appreciate how far we have come, there are all these women in stem related activities and fields. I think it’s time we accelerate the process, we need to get rid of the Gap. I don’t know how long it will take the gap to close, but hopefully, in the future, it will happen. I think what really needs to change in society and the expectations it places on girls at a very young age. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, we can see young girls and boys dabbling into different fields, and finding what they enjoy. Seeing girls setting a path for themselves.”
Anya: “I think we have to acknowledge that it will not be easy changing society’s perception. A lot of individuals were raised with the idea that women are supposed to conform to certain roles. We really have to acknowledge how monumental even the smallest steps are because it’s really difficult to change a mindset that is so integrated with our society, we are not going to see change overnight, but every single thing counts and makes a difference in the end.”
How did you start out in your STEM careers, what were some of the biggest challenges you faced? What was your main motivation to break all barriers and create impact?
Sanya: “I agree with Anya, When I went into more STEM-Based subjects in High School, Threw were only two to three girls in a class of 20, which reduced my confidence. I used to not respond in class, and not participate because I did not want to be wrong and judged by the boots. When I found and joined Girls will code, I realized there were other girls in the same situation, and it felt more empowering. We wanted to lift each other up and represent women in our classes. From here, everyone does their part and empowers the women around them.”
Anya: “Representation is important, it’s important that young girls have role models and for you to have someone to collaborate with, who you can relate to, so I think the lack of women in STEM really hinders a young girl’s interest in STEM and pursuing the field. I hope to create a community at Girls will Code where we can prevent that, and have someone with whom young girls can share their passion.”
How do you see the status of the current gender gap in engineering and STEM changing in the next few years?
This is Teju Calambakkam :) I have the privilege of being Editor-inChief for the first volume of the Girls For Science Mag! Thank you so much for reading, I genuinely hope you enjoy what the team has been working on for the past months!
The creation of this magazine has been such a journey. When I first joined GFS in 2019 (over 3 years ago O_o), I could have never imagined where we would be now. Thank you so much to Divya and Sweta for your continued encouragement throughout the years. I am so grateful to be able to work under your leadership. Thank you so much to the team - your hard work and patience with this new stage of GFS are so appreciated.
STEAM has always been a part of my life. My goal with GFS has always been to educate others about the STEAM possibilities in their futures and to inspire young people to work towards their goals. Thank you Girls For Science for letting me achieve that.
Much love, Teju <3
As editor director, I am so incredibly pumped for you to have this in your hands! Creating a magazine was a new and exciting adventure for Girls For Science, and to see our first volume finally complete is absolutely crazy. We did it! And I hope you love it. Working with the other editors and the rest of our amazing team on this project, aimed to inspire curiosity and education in others, has been so gratifying. I loved doing this so much and cannot wait for what is to come in the future. Stay tuned!Nicole W. TEJU CALAMBAKKAM NICOLE WILKES YUKTEE SRIKANT
Thank you for reading our magazine! I am Hannah, Director of Writing for GFS. It was such an honor working with this team and I really loved putting this all together- I hope you enjoy our magazine as much as I did! Special shout out to our team members for working so hard to get this put together. Thank you to Divya and Sweta for this amazing opportunity.
I am looking forward to seeing our organization develop even more.
Take care, Hannah B.
To all the cool people reading this right now,
Thanks for making it all the way to the back of the magazine! You have excellent taste. To the lovely people who worked on this magazine with me, you’re amazing and I appreciate all of your hard work. I can’t wait to get some people on the design crew next issue; I hope this wonderful magazine has convinced you to join the team! And to Teju, thanks for being the rock this magazine stands on. You’re the best.Best, Max SWETA
MATHURGraphic Design Director