Tuesday 16 October 2012

Links round-up: Ada Lovelace Day edition

 Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, this week's linkspam has a general focus on awesome women in science, technology, engineering and medicine! In no particular order...

 An international wikithon aims to improve Wikipedia's documentation of women in STEM: Professor Uta Frith, who'll be leading a panel discussion at the Royal Society in London after the edit-a-thon, says "Can you immediately come up with a handful of names of female staff in technology? Is that because there aren't any or because they're sort of invisible? It's a catch-22 - if you can't find them easily in a place like Wikipedia, you won't know anything about them. You'll think they are not important."

Gertrude Elles and Ethel Wood lie close to kaberett's heart: they are responsible for the magnificent tome A Monograph of British Graptolites, published between 1901 and 1918, which remains the definitive work for identification of this extremely important but incredibly dull class of fossils, as most graptolite researchers have minimal interest in making it easy for other people to work out what on Earth they're looking at! This is a pity, because lots of them have been reclassified in the last 100 years. Sadly there isn't much information available about either of these researchers, but we did manage to dredge up a few paragraphs on Gertrude Elles via Google Books.

Relatedly, the British Geological Society have a page entitled Women in Geology, starting in 1770 and continuing to the present day in steps of a decade!

Lise Meitner's story is incredible: an Austrian (and later Swedish) Jew (born 1878), she escaped Nazi Germany in 1938 with 10 Marks and a diamond ring given her by her head-of-group. She was a stunningly capable nuclear physicist, and part of the research team that discovered nuclear fission.

Julia Serano, probably best known around here for writing Whipping Girl, is also a very well-regarded biochemist and biophysicist at University of California, Berkeley. Here's her research page!

Paramjit Khurana's research includes work on the genetics of heat- and drought-tolerance along with insect- and herbicide-resistance in crop plants; Charusita Chakravarty is a theoretical chemist and physicist, working on phase transitions and energy landscapes with particular application to protein folding and aggregation, in the context of water - a truly bizarre fluid. Both have been named among the top 25 scientists in India (sadly, the rest of the article lists a bunch of dudes). See also the page for Women in Science & Engineering India!

Jane Marcet (1769-1858) wrote a book entitled Conversations on Chemistry published anonymously in 1805 - one of the earliest books on elementary science!

Denise Paolucci is the co-founder of journalling site Dreamwidth, excellently profiled as part of geekfeminism.org's Geek Women series. Her commitment to a safe and supportive environment where non-coders are encouraged to learn if they want to, and non-code contributions to the project aren't considered any less valuable, is pretty much the reason that Dreamwidth's contributors are skewed massively towards the female-identified - unlike pretty much every other software project ever. kaberett's favourite fact about Denise: she sometimes weaves glow-sticks into her wheelchair spokes to make her more visible at night.

In 2010 Under The Microscope compiled a list of notable black female scientists and innovators. Brown University's programme aiming to retain female scientists have made a similar list with some overlap, again highlighting the role of black women.

Sossina Haile is a materials scientist (Why You Don't Fall Through The Floor and all that!) focussing on ionic conduction in solids - she invented an entirely new kind of fuel cell!

In an awesome video, Dr Maggie Anderin, rocket scientist & educator, explains how the South African Large Telescope (SALT) works.

Monisha Kaltenborn has just become the world's first female Formula 1 team principal!

Mary Anning (1799-1847) - the inspiration for she sells seashells on the sea shore... - was a working-class woman whose scientific contributions ended up credited to others for the majority of her lifetime. She found the first complete icthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified; the first two pleiosaurs ever found; the first pterosaur outside of Germany; and a multitude of other fossils, including belemnite chamber containing preserved ink. Her finds formed key evidence for the process of extinction; she also co-developed the study of coprolites (fossil poo!), which allows us to work out how ancient ecosystems worked.

And to close, we leave you with Rosalind Franklin, a Jewish woman featured in Hark! A Vagrant! and in the image below by Quentin Blake. Her painstakingly-acquired X-ray diffraction data - and her equally painstaking interpretation! - lead her to independently unravel the structure of DNA... but Crick & Watson, who'd used her data without either her knowledge or her permission, managed to get away with barely acknowledging her and still being covered in all the glory. Thanks, dudes. Franklin went on, though, to do a whole bunch more amazing work with XRD. She & her group carried out pioneering research on RNA, the type of molecule that is to most viruses what DNA is to us. How's that?!

And who are your favourites?

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