Inspiring Scientists

Rosalind Franklin

posted Dec 19, 2016, 12:52 PM by Raymond Clayton   [ updated Dec 19, 2016, 9:42 PM ]

Rosalind Franklin, courtesy of National Geographic

In 1951, Rosalind Franklin, a chemist from King's College London, was the first to discover the structure of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA, using x-ray diffraction crystallography, a type of photograph. This was two years before James Watson and Francis Crick would make their breakthrough in DNA but only upon seeing Franklin's work. Watson and Crick published in April of 1953 and received a Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine in 1962 for their work. Franklin never received recognition for her work nor was she nominated for a Nobel. She is now known and recognized today for her contribution to our understanding of the structure of DNA.

Ellen Ochoa

posted Aug 26, 2016, 4:14 PM by Ann Marostica   [ updated Aug 26, 2016, 4:17 PM ]

In 1993, Dr. Ellen Ochoa became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. She has flown in space four times, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit. Prior to her astronaut career, she was a research engineer and inventor, with three patents for optical systems. Ochoa is also the first Hispanic (and second female) to be named director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.


Debbie Sterling

posted Aug 20, 2015, 10:05 AM by Ann Marostica   [ updated Aug 20, 2015, 10:13 AM ]

When Debbie Sterling was at Stanford earning her degree in mechanical engineering, she was disturbed by how few women there were in the program, so she set out to do something about that.
Debbie knows she’s a rarity with estimates claiming less than 15% of the world’s engineers are women. But considering that engineers make the biggest advances in our society and that women make up about half the world’s population, she believes the world deserves to have the female perspective when it comes to these advances.

She sank her savings into starting GoldieBlox, a toy company aiming to “help girls build the future” by “disrupting the pink aisle” and introducing girls to the joy of engineering at a young age. 

Sterling’s startup has been a noteable success. Stocked by companies like Toys R Us and, GoldieBlox is growing in popularity. So secure is the company that it became the first startup ever to run a Super Bowl ad in 2014. You can watch the ad below. 

Before you watch the ad, though, check out her 2013 TED talk where she asked the audience to close their eyes and picture what an engineer looks like. Spoiler alert: They did not picture her. 

Goldieblox Startup

Debbie Sterling TED talk

Neil deGrasse Tyson

posted Nov 30, 2014, 9:48 PM by Ann Ransom

Neil deGrasse Tyson (born October 5, 1958) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. From 2006 to 2011, he hosted the educational science television show NOVA ScienceNow on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher. Since 2009, he has hosted the weekly radio show Star Talk. In 2014, Tyson hosted Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, a sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (1980) television series.

Learn more about him here:

The Most Astounding Fact

Heather Knight aka Marilyn Monrobot

posted Sep 12, 2014, 3:18 PM by Ann Marostica

Heather Knight, better known as Marilyn Monrobot, grabbed national attention in 2011 when she landed on the Forbes list of 30 under 30 in science. 

The social roboticist has a MS in electric engineering and computer science from MIT and is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute while running Marilyn Monrobot Labs in New York, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art. 

Heather’s work also includes: robotics and instrumentation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interactive installations with Syyn Labs, field applications and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics, and she is an alumnus of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. 

Beyond the Forbes list, Heather gained some fame as a key designer behind the below OK Go video’s Rube Goldberg Machine through her work at Syyn.

She’s also spoken at TED conferences. Watch her 2010 talk on robotics and entertainment, two areas that she believes combined will attract more people to STEM.

TED talk: Silicon based comedy

OK Go, This too shall pass Rube Goldberg machine

Tongue Untwister

posted Sep 1, 2014, 10:00 PM by Ann Marostica

Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation winner Eitan Acks was inspired to study speech therapy by his little brother, who has dyspraxia, a disability that affects the ability to communicate. Eitan wanted to improve on the simple exercises using tongue depressors prescribed by speech therapists. So he put his engineering skills to use building a better device to strengthen the parts of the body used in speech, and to mend the connection between those muscles and the brain. Through trial and error with five different prototypes, Eitan found that his device is capable of improving modern speech therapy for dyspraxia as well as other speech disorders.

Eitan was selected because he demonstrates both vision and promise as an innovator, and in the spirit of radio inventor Guglielmo Marconi, has shown aptitude and skill in applied electrical engineering concepts in his science project and in the STEM challenges throughout the week.

Ria Chhabra found that fruit flies that eat organic produce are healthier

posted Sep 1, 2014, 9:42 PM by Ann Marostica

Ria Chhabra found that fruit flies that eat organic produce are healthier.The teen from Dallas, Texas settled a long-standing debate between her parents over the merits of organic produce by feeding organic and conventional foods to fruit flies.

She began the project while still in middle school, and eventually submitted it to the 2011 Broadcom Masters science fair and was named one of the fair's 30 finalists.

Teen's Science Fair Project Can Save the US Govt Millions

posted Aug 14, 2014, 3:04 PM by Ann Marostica   [ updated Aug 14, 2014, 3:11 PM ]

Teen's Science Fair Project Saves Government Millions

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