April 2019

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski (1993 – Present)

Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski is a PhD student at Harvard University studying theoretical physics, whose work involves understanding quantum gravity. She is an incredibly accomplished young scientist who is known for her work on the spin memory effect and the Pasterski–Strominger–Zhiboedov triangle. Already, her work has been recognized by many including Stephen Hawking, garnering her the title of “the next Einstein”.
Sabrina is a first generation Cuban-American who was born and raised in Chicago. Sabrina has commented that “years of pushing the bounds of what I could achieve led me to physics”. At the early age of 9, Sabrina began flying. She received a Cessna 150 from her grandfather on her 10th birthday, and as it often broke down, she also began to practice rebuilding engines. Sabrina started rebuilding her plane’s engine at age 12, and just two days before her 14th birthday, she flew solo in her rebuilt Cessna 150. That same day, she received a job offer from Jeff Bezos (her scientific hero), which still stands today.
She went on to complete her undergraduate degree at MIT in 3 years, where she graduated #1 at MIT Physics with the highest GPA achievable and as the first girl to win the MIT Physics Orloff Scholarship. She began her doctoral studies at Harvard University in 2013 under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Strominger, and gained academic independence in 2015. She is the recipient of several awards and honours, including the Hertz Foundation Fellowship, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, Genius: 100 Visions of the Future Award, Young Women’s Honors Education/Genius Award, MIT Physics Rising Star, Stephen P. Jobs Trust’s Ozy Rising Star, and both Forbes’ and Scientific American’s 30 Under 30. In addition to her research, she has also been nationally recognized for her advocacy of STEM education for girls, promoting the Let Girls Learn Initiative in the US well as other initiatives in Cuba and Russia. Her words of advice are to “Be optimistic about what you believe you can do”. Sabrina will be defending her thesis later this week on April 17th.

March 2019

Jane Marcet (1769-1858)

Jane Marcet was born in London in 1769 to a wealthy Swiss merchant and his wife. Jane was home-schooled with her brothers, and studied chemistry, biology, history and Latin, among other languages. Although Jane’s formal studies ended when she was 15, she often acted as her father’s hostess during parties with different scientific and literary guests. In 1799, Jane married Alexander Marcet, a Swiss physician who shared her interest in chemistry, and often gave lectures along with other eminent chemists. Jane and her husband often conducted experiments in their home laboratory, and then discussed the relevant scientific principles together. After reading the proofs for one of her husband’s books, Jane decided to write her own book on chemistry so that everyone could understand the subject. Her work, “Conversations on Chemistry, Intended More Especially for the Female Sex”, was anonymously published in 1806. The book was widely popular for how user-friendly it was. Chemical concepts were explained through a series of conversations between a female teacher and two female students, and contained illustrations by Jane for further clarification. The style of dialogue made chemistry a subject that was accessible to everyone, such as women and people who did not receive a lot of schooling. This was how Conversations on Chemistry introduced Michael Faraday to the sciences while he bound the book in 1810 as a bookbinder’s apprentice. The book was translated into French and German and became widely popular in the United States. Jane was not acknowledged as the author until 1832, when the 12th edition was published. Although Jane Marcet never received any awards for her work, it is widely acknowledged that her influence on science was enormous.

February 2019

Mona Nemer (1957 – Present)

Dr. Mona Nemer is Canada’s Chief Science Advisor and a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa. She was born and raised in Lebanon where as a teen, she advocated for the creation of a science-stream at her all-girls school in Beirut. She then went on to complete her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, minoring in both French and Mathematics at Wichita State University in 1977. She obtained a PhD in Bio-organic Chemistry from McGill University in Montreal in 1982. Her research at the University of Ottawa focuses on cardiac function and formation and she has published over 150 publications to date. In 2017, Nemer was appointed as Canada’s Chief Science Advisor where she plays a key role in helping the government make scientifically informed decisions. One of her key contributions in this role has been in developing scientific integrity policies for government scientists to help ensure their right to share their research with the Canadian public. In 2001, Nemer became a Royal Society of Canada fellow, and in 2014 she also became a member of the Order of Canada.

January 2019

Faiza Al-Kharafi (1946 – Present)

Dr. Al-Kharafi (born 1946) is a Kuwaiti electrochemist known for her studies in corrosion science and engineering. She became the first woman to head a major university in the Middle East, is the vice president of the World Academy of Sciences, and was named one of “The 100 Most Powerful Women – Women to Watch in the Middle East” by Forbes magazine in 2005.
Dr. Al-Kharafi earned her BSc degree from Ain Shams University in Egypt in 1967, and her MSc and PhD degrees from Kuwait University in 1972 and 1975, where she later became a professor of chemistry in 1987. She served as president of Kuwait University from 1993 to 2002 and is current a member of the Board of Directors of Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.
In addition to work studying the impact of corrosion on engine cooling systems, crude oil distillation units, tap water, and geothermal brines, Al-Kharafi also studied the electrochemical behaviour of vanadium, niobium, and alumninum, and contributed to the discovery of a novel class of molybdenum-based catalysts to enhance the quality of gasoline octane.
In 2006 she was awarded the Kuwait Prize in Applied Sciences and in 2011 was awarded the L’Oreal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Sciences for her work on corrosion.

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