The phrase “STEM career” is a vague term that actually represents an exciting array of jobs. For STEM month, we at Girl Scouts of Central Maryland would like to introduce you to several women who work in STEM fields. They will tell you in their own words why STEM careers are the best!
Scientist/Postdoctoral Researcher for Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Education History: Grew up in Australia, college and graduate school at Osaka University in Japan in behavioral physiology, graduate school at University of Florida in behavioral neuroscience and a Ph.D. from Florida State University in Neuroscience.
What do you do?
I work in a laboratory designing and conducting experiments using animal models (rats and mice). We collect the data and publish it in journals for people to read and go to conferences to talk to other scientists. I interact with students who are developing laboratory skills and give lectures to college students.
How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
I am interested in behavior, what makes us eat certain things or move in certain ways? I’m also interested in biology and it’s a way we can figure out HOW we have these different behaviors. I took classes that I was interested in and I followed people who worked in labs until I found something that I enjoyed a lot.
What is a typical day like at your job?
A day working in the laboratory involves taking care of the animals, running experiments, collecting data. Some days I spend in the office which involves reading about what else is going on in the science world, analyzing data that I’ve collected from the laboratory and writing about what we have found. Several times a year, I am able to go to different places in the US and the world to meet with other scientists and talk about what we have found in the laboratory and problems we have solving particular questions.
What is the best part of your job?
That my job is to think!
What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered about your field?
I work on questions about how biology influences behavior, for example, how do we taste something that’s sweet and why do some people think sweet tastes good but some people hate it? These are questions that almost all of us have thought about and can relate to, yet there is a lot we don’t understand.
What did you have to learn in order to do what you do?
I had to take classes about basic neuroscience, work in different laboratories to learn how to do experiments and learn from more established scientists about how to design experiments and collect data.
What is one piece of advice you would give to girls about careers in STEM?
Do what you feel interests you the most! It doesn’t matter if you think it’s unusual or impractical or you don’t know quite yet how you will get there.
What is something girls should know about STEM?
STEM involves a wide range of topics and types of skills, many of which are still unexplored.
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