3 powerful women in STEAM
In the framework of our project CHIOICE that aims to promote and improve STEM education at schools by designing innovative Open Educational Resources, collected in a MOOC that will increase the professional competences of teachers by equipping them with a STE(A)M approach of teaching, today we want to talk about 3 powerful women in STEAM:
Barbara Askins | Physical Chemistry
Born in Belfast, Tennessee. She took her bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. She was then employed as a physical chemist by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.
Askins is best known for inventing the autoradiograph, a method of greatly enhancing the density and contrast of photographic images by exposing the silver in the emulsion of a photographic negative to radiation, and then creating a second image by exposing a second emulsion to the radiation from the first one. Askins’s process was initially applied with great success in astronomy, to images taken through light telescopes. Subsequently, it found wide application in medical technology, in the enhancement of X-ray images. In 1978, Askins was named Inventor of the Year by the Association for the Advancement of Inventions and Innovations, the first woman to receive the honor.
Cynthia Breazeal | Computer Science, Robotics
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received her bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering from University of California–Santa Barbara in 1989, and her doctor of science degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000.
Breazeal helped develop a number of more sophisticated robots utilizing similar principles, including Cog, Leonardo, and Nexi. The general term now in use for these more-advanced descendants of Kismet is “MDS” (mobile, dexterous, social) robots. Several commercial spin-offs have been derived from her work, as well, including the personal trainer, Autom, the interactive robot companion, Huggable, and the enhanced video-conferencing system, MeBot. Breazeal is currently Director of the Personal Robots Group under the aegis of MIT’s famed Media Lab.
Ana Caraiani | Mathematics
Born in Bucharest, Romania. She earned her bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Princeton University in 2007. At Princeton, she wrote her senior thesis on Galois representations under the supervision of Andrew Wiles, widely known for having completed a proof in 1995 of Fermat’s Last Theorem.
So far, Caraiani has worked primarily on problems at the interface of the Langlands correspondence with arithmetic algebraic geometry. (The local Langlands correspondences are a part of the overarching Langlands program, which explores conjectured deep connections among diverse areas of mathematics, such as number theory, algebra, and analysis.) Regarding the direction of her future research, Caraiani has said that she hopes to extend the results, in work done jointly with Peter Scholze, about torsion in the cohomology of compact unitary Shimura varieties to the non-compact case. In the spring of 2018, Caraiani is due to take up a position as a von Neumann Fellow at the IAS.