Where can curiosity, drive, intelligence, and imagination take you? Anywhere you want to go. Here are three fantastic women who are shaping the world right now.
Dr. Hazel Barton – Explorer & Microbiologist
Are you afraid of the dark?
Hazel Barton boldly (and routinely) goes where no one on Earth has gone before. A professor of microbiology and geology at the University of Akron, Barton explores caves in the earth, underwater, and in the ice.
These environments are remote. There is no light and often very little heat. Sometimes there is no oxygen. In these deep, dark, dangerous places, Barton and her team hunt for extremophiles – microorganisms that have found a way to survive in incredibly harsh conditions.
She brings these microorganisms back and studies them so that other scientists can develop new antibiotics to fight disease. The extremophiles she discovers are also used to study the possibility of life on other worlds.
Hazel Barton’s fierce determination, relentless curiosity, and boundless love of science and exploration make her one of the incredible women who are shaping the world.
Dr. Deborah Jin, Physicist & Fermion Wrangler
Have you ever made something awesome?
Deborah Jin is a physicist and researcher at the JILA (Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics). In 2003, Jin and her team made an entirely new state of matter.
On Earth, we typically encounter four states of matter – solids, liquids, gasses, and plasmas. There are other “exotic” states of matter – supersolids, quark-gluon plasma, quark matter (maybe). Deborah Jin created a Fermionic Condensate, a state of matter so exotic that it has probably never existed before anywhere in the Universe.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of particles – bosons and fermions. Electrons, protons, and neutrons are examples of fermions. Atoms are fermions, too. Well, some are. Some atoms are bosons. The quantum world is mind-bogglingly cool.
What’s important is that two fermions cannot occupy the same quantum state at the same time. Bosons can. But no one had ever seen a Fermionic Condensate. Deborah Jin made one anyway.
Jin captured 500,000 potassium-40 atoms in a magnetic field and cooled them down to a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero… just like you would in your physics lab at home.
Inside the magnetic field, the potassium-40 atoms paired up and started to behave like bosons. And at that ultra-cold temperature, the fermions condensed into a superfluid.
For her amazing work in ultra-cold physics, Jin was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship (the “genius grant”). She has since won the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics from the Franklin Institute and the Isaac Newton Medal from the Institute of Physics.
Dr. Mae Carol Jemison – Scientist, Trailblazer, & Explorer
What’s your dream?
As a girl, Mae Carol Jemison looked up at the stars and dreamed of going to space. She was inspired by Star Trek and the possibilities of a brilliant future.
A lot of people want to be astronauts when they’re kids, though fewer than 600 of the seven billion or so people on Earth have ever been to space. Mae Carol Jemison decided she was going to do it anyway.
At 16, Jemison studied chemical engineering at Stanford University. After that, she earned a medical degree at Cornell. She served in as a doctor in the Peace Corps. Jemison applied to NASA, but they rejected her. Four years later, NASA called her back and asked if she was still interested in going to space. She said absolutely, yes.
In September of 1992, Mae Carol Jemison spent eight days on the Space Shuttle Endeavor as the science mission specialist on the STS-47 Spacelab J flight. The first thing she saw from space was her hometown of Chicago.
Mae Carol Jemison is a chemical engineer, a physician, a scientist, an astronaut, an entrepreneur, and an educator. She was the first African American woman in space. She is the only real astronaut to ever appear on an episode of Star Trek. She has started two successful technology companies.
Jemison is also leading something called the 100 Year Starship, a project exploring the technology that humans would need to safely travel through interstellar space.
Why did we choose these women? Because they’re daring, intelligent, and incredible. Why didn’t we choose other daring, intelligent, incredible women? Because lists are weird like that.
Who Did We Miss?
So many amazing women in science and technology have made our world a better place. Who are your heroes? Let us know.