Lady Ada Lovelace was a contemporary and colleague of Charles Babbage, he innovator of the programmable computer, which was referred to as the Analytical Engine in 1842. Ms. Ada Lovelace was intrigued by his ideas and her published notes included an algorithm to be processed by the machine. As a result, she is regarded as the World's First Computer Programmer and an inspiration to women interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, an Mathematics (STEM).
Ada Lovelace Day is a worldwide celebration of her contribution to STEM and society as well as an opportunity to celebrate other women who inspire us all!
So here is my salute to the Ada Lovelaces in my life!
I was very fortunate to study with a female adviser, The Dr. Zuleyma Tang-Martinez (on the far right)- a pioneering researcher in animal behavior and olfactory communication, as well as Fellow of the Animal Behavior Society. Having female mentors is an important part of a young scientists success; and thanks to her (and a host of other female professors at the graduate institution and other nearby universities) my lab mates and I had plenty of female role models to emulate.
I had an amazing co-hort of science scholars at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The other ladies in the photo above are my labmates - academic sisters, Dr. Elizabeth Congdon and Master Marcella Fernandez. My friend, Beth studies capybara - yes, ROUSs! - and teaches biology at The University of Southern Georgia. While completing her graduate research, she braved political upheaval of Venezuela, tackled stereotypes of women and Gringos, and poached a poacher! She's so bad ass. Marcella studies communication dynamics of wild mice. For her Master's thesis she studied singing mice. Now she is working on her PhD (at Cornell University) still studying vocal and chemical communication of small rodents.
Another Lady from the Tang-Martinez Lab, Dr. Deborah Tobin. She's now this awesome professor at the University of Alaska. She studies communication, too but also studies marine biology. In fact, you should sign up for her class and spend a Semester at the Bay.
Ms. Lyndell Bade and I go way back, as NSF GK-12 Fellows at Normandy Senior High School. Together, we managed to convinced the faculty to sponsor a research internship program for St. Louis High School Students. She is one amazing biologist - now studying sharks and rays at Eastern Carolina State University and she continues to inspire next generation of biologists and activists at her blog, SaveOurSharks,and in the classroom.
These two ladies are also AWESOME and inspiring scientists. Dr. Bette Loiselle was one of my instructors at the Unviersity of Missouri-St. Louis and Dr. Gillian Bowser is a graduate - also one of my academic sisters, too. She studied with Dr. Tang-Martinez as well. Here is a video of them discussing the importance of women and minority role models in science and environmental science, in particular.
I've known Ms. Tonya Brown since college, in fact she pinned me when I was inducted into our sorority. She's the Center of Excellence at Flextronics. I don't exactly understand what all of that means, but I know she is one amazing engineer and her responsibilities include keeping everything going smoothly - Supply Chain Excellence and Acceleration Operations - on thres continents! That's superbad in my book!
When I first met Master Piia Hanson, she was doing diabetes research at a Washington University School of Medicine. Though she knew the importance and relevance of the research, she wanted to do more to address the alarming rate of diabetes prevalence among populations of people. For a while she considered becoming a physician, but that too seemed to miss the mark - primarily interacting with people when they where sick. She then decided to pursue public health administration and applies her knowledge of science and medicine to help individuals and communities address social and environmental roots of disease and prevention.
I have my celebrity Ada Lovelaces, too. I literally stalked Dr. Shirley Malcolm - Head of the Education and Human Resources Division of the American Association for the Advancement of Science - and got this photo. She's the bomb and champion diversity of women and minorities in STEM. And I also nearly tackled a women to get this picture with Dr. Mae Jemison - the first black woman to travel in space. She's also a champion of improved access to quality science and math education for girls, women, and minorities.
More phenomenal women who did it first include my college sorority adviser -- Dr. Rubye Torrey. She is still living, but has made history, too earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Syracuse University in New York (1963). My historical role model is Dr. Roger Arliner Young -- the first African-American Woman to earn a doctorate in Zoology (1940).
Who are the Ada Lovelaces in your life?